Jon Lewis keen to take World Cup fight to dominant Australia
England head coach Jon Lewis is determined to unseat “standard bearers” Australia at the Women’s T20 World Cup as he begins to grapple with the biggest job of his career.
Lewis is no stranger to the international arena, capped by his country in all three formats as a player before leading the men’s Under-19 setup and working alongside the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad as the ECB’s pace bowling lead for almost two years.
He was a key part of Chris Silverwood’s backroom team during last winter’s Ashes, when Australia eased to a 4-0 win, and left the men’s game in December to take over from Lisa Keightley.
The identity of England’s main rivals is a familiar one and their dominance even more pronounced, with Australia’s women winning the last three World Cup tournaments and holding the Ashes urn for the last four series.
“This is 100 per cent, for sure, my biggest job so far,” Lewis told the PA news agency.
“As a skills coach in the men’s set-up you have influence, you have a say, but the decisions aren’t yours, they’re someone else’s. This is a much greater challenge for me.
“Australia are definitely the standard bearers in the women’s game, they are the benchmark team. They’ve done fantastically well since 2017, when we last won a World Cup, and they have dominated.
“We’ll go into this tournament with Australia as favourites and that’s right, they should be. But with favouritism comes the demands and the pressures to keep on winning.”
England begin their campaign on February 11, facing the West Indies in Paarl, having beaten the same opponents 8-0 on aggregate on their recent white-ball tour of the Caribbean.
While the on-field challenge was flimsier than expected, Lewis took his time to take the measure of his new team and believes there is room for even the most established figures in the group to reach fresh heights.
“I think all of them have levels to explore, in terms of how they play the game. The newer players are obviously exciting, with high potential, but the senior group is one that still has a lot of untapped potential.
“Heather Knight, our captain, is an incredibly talented player and a really good leader, but I see more in her tank in terms of how creative she can be, how unconventionally she can play and captain.
“There’s Nat Sciver-Brunt, one of the best players in the world, and she’s someone who could go even further with the tempo she can play at. She can dominate teams. At times I feel those two players have felt really responsible for the results of the team, so I’ve told them it’s my job to raise the standard of everyone so they can be even more expressive.
“If you can just free some of their minds up, make them realise they don’t have to stick to how it’s always been done, the talent we have is so abundant. This group can do anything they want to. They might not realise it yet, but it’s my job to get that out of them.”