Increasing reports suggest Matthew Mott is the frontrunner likely to be appointed as the new England men’s cricket team’s white-ball head coach.
Last week, the ECB officially announced Kiwi Brendon McCullum would oversee the Test side on four-year deal, but the board has yet to commit to someone for the shorter formats.
At the time of writing, that decision was expected to be a two-man race between interim coach Paul Collingwood and Mott.
The Australian has been at the helm of our world No.1 women’s team since 2015 and is currently contracted until September 2023.
It’s the second time this year Mott’s been linked to a men’s national side, after being touted as a replacement for Justin Langer following his resignation in February.
In late March, while in the middle of leading the Australian women to the 2022 Women’s World Cup trophy, Mott was asked if he’d thought about throwing his hat in the ring.
In response, Mott revealed that he’d certainly considered crossing over, but that he was in no rush to leave his current post.
“As a coach, you have to look at the next pathway … there will always be that: ‘What’s next?’ … But I’m thoroughly enjoying what I’m doing at the moment.”
Now it seems he’ll switch focus, not only when it comes to gender, but also in allegiance for country.
However, Mott is a much-loved member of the cricket community, and fans are unlikely to bear any resentment if he does indeed move on.
What would his departure mean for the Australian women’s team?
After seven years in charge, you can understand why Mott may be looking for a new challenge, seemingly having achieved everything possible in the women’s international game.
During that time, Australia has held the Women’s Ashes for the past four series, set a new world record for the longest ODI-winning streak in men or women’s cricket (26 straight) and, as of last month, have won three World Cups in limited-overs formats, including that unforgettable night in 2020 at the MCG.
It’s also interesting to reflect on the rise of the women’s game since Mott started in the job in March 2015, the same year the Women’s Big Bash was launched, and a year before the NSW Breakers became the first full-time professionally paid team in the Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL).
Now the WBBL is a high-rating TV product, with last season reaching a cumulative average audience of 5.36 million viewers, setting the standard for other women’s sports around the country when it comes to interest and sponsorship.
The WNCL has also come a long way, building towards a full home-and-away season for the first time this summer with an additional $7,000 on average in match payments.
Mott’s influence cannot be discounted throughout this period, as a passionate advocate for the rights of female players and their worth.
Plus, the success of the team, thanks to his guidance, has pushed those in charge to keep upping the standards of the women’s pathways and their investment in the game.
At times, some have been critical of Mott’s decisions to favour all-round capabilities when it comes to selection.
Opting to pick players who can field, bat and bowl, rather than a specialist knocking down the door with incredible form.
He’s also shown loyalty to players already in the Australian set-up, trusting their ability to come good based on previous performances when they’ve had an extended dip in form.
Despite others missing out for these reasons, the incredible success of the team under his tenure means the approach has, by and large, paid off.
So how would the team do without Mott involved?
Australia already has a strong senior leadership group, possessing some of the best players in the world.
Meg Lanning has been captain since 2014 and shows no sign of slowing down, while experienced campaigners Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry, Jess Jonassen, Megan Schutt and Beth Mooney are all likely to help the side through its period of transition.
Lanning and Mott have always had a particularly collaborative approach in the direction of the team and their tactics on field, meaning it’s likely whomever replaces Mott will need to share that temperament and co-operative quality.
Who would most likely take over?
Although he’s not gone just yet, there are a number of Australian coaches waiting in the wings.
Former Australian all-rounder Shelley Nitschke has been working full-time as an assistant under Mott for the past four years, and is the head coach of 2021 WBBL champions, the Perth Scorchers.
During an international career that spanned from 2004 to 2011, Nitschke represented Australia at four World Cups and won trophies in both the 50-overs (2005) and T20 (2010) formats.
Nitschke was named as the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year in 2010 and won the Belinda Clark Award four years in a row, from 2009 to 2012.
As someone who played six Test matches, Nitschke’s experience would be invaluable in an era where women’s cricket is seeking to play more of the traditional format.
Other strong candidates include Ben Sawyer and Jo Broadbent.
Sawyer is the second assistant coach currently operating under Mott and has a strong relationship with multiple players from his seven seasons in charge at the Sydney Sixers in the WBBL.
He won two back-to-back titles in WBBL02 and WBBL03. According to Ellyse Perry, he was an integral figure for Australia’s victory in the 2019 Ashes.
After working part-time with the national side in previous series, Sawyer was appointed full-time in 2021.
Meanwhile Broadbent, like Nitschke, is a former Australian batter, well-known as our first female player to reach a double century in Tests (1998).
Broadbent led the NSW Breakers to six WNCL titles in the space of seven years and won the inaugural season of the WBBL as the Sydney Thunder’s head coach.
Nowadays, Broadbent is coaching Northern Districts in New Zealand, as she aims to help grow the game elsewhere, but Cricket Australia could probably lure her back across the ditch, especially if it means coaching the national side she once played for.