Andy Flower was firmly concealed as England’s Test head coach, but relinquished the limited-overs side of the job after nearly four years in charge; Ashley Giles was then appointed to be England’s first white-ball head coach. Yet this was never a partnership of equals.
Flower, who had overseen over a fine era for England across formats, was emphatically the senior party; Giles essentially had to defer to the Test coach on player availability, and was seldom able to pick his preferred team. Giles was so put off by the experience that, when it came his turn to appoint England’s coaching team, he insisted on a single coach across formats saying that, with split coaches, “There are a number of things there that are going to give me a headache remove quickly.”
As England move to split coaches for only the second time ever, they have been guided by the lessons from 2012-14. The first is to appoint the two coaches at the same time, avoiding a repeat of the situation where the existing coach naturally assumes primacy.
The second is to appoint two coaches with a strong rapport – both personally and in their professional outlook – giving them the best chance of working through the inevitable tensions of leading England in the Test and limited-overs games. Without McCullum’s appointment, then, it is unlikely that Mott would now be appointed as England white-ball coach.
‘He was very approachable… he gave me a lot of confidence’
Yet none of this should obscure that Mott is a fine coach. Indeed, his experience of coaching, which dates back to 2003 – as his Australian domestic career was ending – far exceeds McCullum’s. With New South Wales, Mott won the Sheffield Shield in his first season, and also lifted the Big Bash and the inaugural Champions League T20 tournament.
Mott capped his three years in charge of Glamorgan by taking the county to the Yorkshire Bank 40 final in 2013 – their first Lord’s date for 13 years. Since 2015, he has been head coach of the Australia women’s side, presiding over one of the finest eras any international cricket team has ever enjoyed.
The hallmark of Mott’s coaching style is his emphasis on personal responsibility and ownership. “He was very approachable – he wanted us to ask questions and come to him,” recalls Andy Balbirnie of working with Mott when he was a consultant for Ireland during the 2015 World Cup. “Being a younger member of the squad at the time, he gave me a lot of confidence – he told me to keep my game pretty simple when batting in Australia.”
Ireland were so impressed by Mott that they made overtures to him about becoming their new head coach. Instead, Mott stayed in Australia to take up the berth of women’s head coach.
Australia’s remarkable dominance in the women’s game is rooted in the nation’s unrivalled commitment to women’s cricket – administratively, financially and culturally. As head coach, then, Mott had a brilliant inheritance. But he could seldom have done more with it: Australia have won 40 of their last 42 one-day internationals, including a record-breaking run of 26 consecutive victories.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.