The new year has brought new beginnings for Scotland with the appointment of Mark Coles as the first full-time head coach of the national women’s team. The New Zealander, who succeeds Steve Knox, arrives with an impressive pedigree which includes two years at the helm in Pakistan.
“I’m extremely excited,” he said. “I’m very humbled and privileged to be given this opportunity.
“I’ll obviously be doing a lot of listening and observing for the first little while to get an understanding of what’s required and the expectations of the players, and then [we’ll look to] build something around that.
“I’m just looking forward to getting to Scotland and getting stuck in.”
After high-performance roles with Western Australia, Wellington and Northern Districts – coaching a Wellington Blaze team that included then-Scotland international Leigh Kasperek to the New Zealand Women’s T20 title in 2013 – Mark was given leave from Waikato Valley to join Pakistan in September 2017. An initial engagement for a single series turned into an extended stay in which he oversaw a dramatic improvement in the culture and fortunes of a side that had been left in disarray after its winless campaign at the 2017 Women’s World Cup. Getting the inside line on the Scottish game will be his first priority, but Mark is also clear about the way in which he sees his new team developing.
“For me it’s about finding a style of cricket that suits Scotland,” he said. “When I first went to Pakistan it was exactly the same. It’s finding what works for Scotland – not trying to emulate Australia or England or New Zealand or whoever, but a style of cricket that suits our players.
“I’d like to think that that’ll be a positive style of cricket, but I think that’s really important, finding the style that suits the players, that you can have some fun with and be brave with and then look to win games with.
“Wherever you go in the world, every team is stronger in some aspects than others, so it’s about putting it all together in the melting pot, finding out what suits us and then working really hard with it.”
With the European Qualifier for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup fast approaching, this will be a crucial summer of cricket for a side that, along with many of its peers, has lost more than a year of its development thanks to the global pandemic. But while the immediate task will be to regroup and refocus, the ultimate goal is still plain.
“The success of Thailand is a great example of what can be achieved and of what Scotland should be aiming for,” said Mark. “They found their own style – they were very quick in the outfield, they were quick between the wickets and they bowled accurately. They weren’t the fastest bowlers in the world, they weren’t the biggest spinners of the ball in the world, but they found the style of play that suited them and they just got really good at it.
“Scotland has produced some absolutely amazing cricketers over the years, and there’s no reason at all why we shouldn’t be playing in the T20 World Cup on a regular basis.”