UK duo pitch in for Aussie juniors

Lloyd Lambert ticked all the boxes Roxburgh Park Broadmeadows Cricket Club wanted in a development coach.

Vice captain at his club, Basildon and Pitsea, in England, he is also the junior cricket program co-ordinator there.

The one thing the Falcons didn’t expect was that his partner, Hannah Courtnell, would have a cricket resume that would make most people sit up and take note.

The Falcons signed Lambert as a player and coach, and didn’t waste any time in offering Courtnell the chance to also be involved in the coaching set-up with last year’s Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association’s north-west runners-ups. She will be part of the senior coaching panel and assist with the juniors.

“I have had a lot of overseas players playing at my county side,” Courtnell said last week. “They suggested we should come out and try it for ourselves.

“I had already gone and spoken to Essendon Maribyrnong Park, and kind of knew that’s where I was going to play.

“It was about finding somewhere for Lloyd to play his cricket. We saw the application for the coaching role and thought that was his way into playing and coaching out here. Once they said they wanted me too, it was the perfect opportunity.”

Courtnell, 22, is accomplished on and off the cricket field. She is captain of Essex’s women’s team and has been involved with the England Cricket Board as a coach and performance analyst. She was a performance analyst for the English men’s team earlier this year at the ICC World Cup.

“I have coached through all the women’s age groups at Essex and also worked with under-10 Essex boys,” Courtnell said.

“I also went into performance analysis with the Essex men’s team for a few years, then evolved into working with the ECB and the women’s academy and the England women.”

She concedes it’s a toss-up over which of the two off field roles she prefers.

“It’s a difficult one really,” she said.

“I very much like technology, which is where the performance analysing comes in handy.

“It’s nice to be working with the camera and working with the guys in a technical way. I like watching replays over and over again.

“From a coaching point of view, it’s more hands on, and nice to work with younger players and help bring them through the ranks.”

Courtnell says having a female coach in a male environment is not common.

“There have been a few female coaches in England. The ECB is tied in with Loughborough University, and there have been a few high level coaches.

“It’s definitely different to have a female coach in the male environment, but I think it’s nice to have the change, especially since we have so many male coaches in the women’s program.

“It is kind of what they [men] need. Males are coming around to the idea the game is unisex now.”

For Lambert, who is a carpenter by trade, cricket is more of a hobby.

He plays for Basildon and Pitsea back in England and got his first coaching badge at 17.

“I would probably say this [subbies] is the highest level of cricket I’ve played. It’s better than what I play at home,” the 25-year-old said.

“I would like to go further with coaching. It is satisfying when you see a kid under-11 who has gone on to play county level. For me, it’s more part-time; I like helping the club out.”

Lambert, a slow left arm orthodox bowler and left handed middle order batsman, is looking to use his time in Australia to improve his game, and possibly play at a higher level back home.

Courtnell is hoping to put her name back in the thoughts of English selectors.

“I was part of the English under-19 team,” she said. “It would be nice to have a good season out here to take back home to the county season, where I am captain. It is nice to sit back and learn from the girls here.

“The hard work starts here. Playing for England has always been the dream.”

Courtnell has already seen differences in the way England and Australia women’s teams go about their preparations.

“I had my first training session with Karen Rolton, former Australian captain – that was an amazing experience. It is completely different to back home. We have a lot of male coaches back home who don’t understand the girls. My coach back home has coached me since the age of 10. Women coaches know what they want to see out of you and are quick to criticise.”

For Lambert and Courtnell, who met the Falcons juniors they will help coach for the first time on Wednesday night, the short time they’ve had in Australia so far has been enjoyable.

“It has been fantastic so far, and everyone has been welcoming, especially Adam Yates and his family, who we have been staying with,” Lambert said.

Courtnell added, “the intensity is a bit higher, and something we probably both need, to try and improve our cricket.

“It’s nice to get to know different faces,” she said.