Jon Lewis on England Women success in WI

Jon Lewis believes England’s clean sweep of their tour of the West Indies, on which they won eight internationals out of eight, showcased the team’s new “attacking mindset” – but said the real test would come when they are asked to stick to their approach in high-pressure moments, such as at the forthcoming Women’s T20 World Cup.
Lewis, who took over as head coach last month, spoke before his first assignment about encouraging a more positive style of play, and was rewarded with a series of emphatic displays, as England won the ODI series 3-0 followed by a 5-0 result in the T20Is.

“The thing I’ve been most pleased about is the way the girls have attacked their cricket and the mindset they’ve tried to adapt to,” Lewis said. “I’ve talked to a lot of them over the course of the tour and you can hear loud and clear the way they’re thinking and the way they’re trying to go about their business. That’s the most pleasing thing for me, the shift that they’ve made in terms of how they’ve tried to approach cricket, in terms of putting bowlers under pressure and taking wickets at every opportunity and also working really hard in the field.

“I think regardless of the actual results in the games, the way that we’ve been able to attack our cricket and try and play the way that we want to play as a group has been really, really pleasing.”

England were rarely pushed during the tour, with victories by 16 and 17 runs in the second and third T20Is respectively the closest West Indies came to halting their momentum, and Lewis was able to rotate his players in a bid to find out more about them just six weeks out from the World Cup.

“Whilst the challenge of this tour hasn’t been as great as we would have probably liked, there’s still been some pressure moments in games where people stood up and took responsibility to do the job. There’s obviously greater challenges ahead of us. There’s some really good teams out there in women’s cricket. It’ll be exciting to see how they how they cope with those pressures.

“I said I was more than happy to lose games on this tour as long as we shifted the way we wanted to play. And that’s the thing I’m most pleased about, the way that we’ve approached cricket, the attacking mindset they’ve taken into the games. I feel like it’s a real shift from what I’ve watched in the past and the times I think they’ve played safe. But there’s been a real shift in the in the group in the way they’re talking and the way they’re trying to grow their game.”

With England expected to name their World Cup squad next month, there were impressive performances from the likes of Charlie Dean – whose 18 wickets across formats made her the most-successful bowled on tour – and Lauren Bell. Injuries to Alice Capsey and Freya Kemp were less welcome, but Lewis suggested that Capsey could still return from a broken collarbone in time to be selected.

“I’m getting some really positive noises actually, which is a bit of a surprise to me once I’d heard what she’d done,” he said. “I didn’t realise that those injuries could heal as quickly as they can. So there’s some really positive noises coming out but she’s still got quite a way to go to make sure that she’s going to be fit and available for a World Cup. I think probably the hardest thing for her will be when she starts hitting the ground again, diving. So that’s probably just building her confidence in the work that’s been done on her collarbone. But as far as I know, from all the information I’ve got from the medical staff, she’s progressing really well.”

As for England’s chances of pushing Australia, winners of the last three global limited-overs tournaments in women’s cricket, in South Africa in February, Lewis suggested that the group needed to stand up in “close moments” if they were going to achieve the success that has eluded them since the 2017 World Cup.

“I would say that the biggest challenge ahead of us is maintaining our confidence and belief in the way we’re going to play,” he said. “So when the pressure ramps up, when you get bigger games, you are put under more pressure by the opposition – then the ability to hold on to the belief and trust that the way that we’re trying to play our cricket will work. So that’s I think our biggest challenge, but that will only come with time, and probably wins and losses. Just opportunities to put themselves under more pressure in moments and games, and show how talented they actually are.

“It’s really it’s interesting to think about how to judge this tour. Did West Indies play like they did because of how we played or were West Indies in that position prior to the tour anyway. What part did we play on the way West Indies played? You would like to think the pressure that we put on them made them worse. This team’s done stuff in the West Indies that no other England team has done, broken a lot of records while they’ve been out here. There’s [been] contributions from individuals that they haven’t done before. So it’s whether or not we can we can just maintain that belief and confidence in in how we want to go about business.”

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