England ready to ‘grow wings and fly’, new coach Jon Lewis insists

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Jon Lewis believes he has taken over an England team that is ready to “grow wings and fly” as they head towards a new year chasing Women’s World Cup and Ashes glory.

Lewis was appointed as Lisa Keightley’s replacement last week, while on a training camp with the England Lions men’s side in Dubai, and is already back at Loughborough getting to know his squad.

His first assignment, an eight-match white-ball tour of the West Indies, is close at hand and in 2023 the intensity will dial up a notch as England attempt to reclaim the urn off Australia as well and challenge for the T20 World Cup in South Africa.

Keightley has left him a fresh-faced team, featuring plenty of rising talent including Alice Capsey, Freya Kemp, Lauren Bell and Issy Wong, and Lewis is enthused about helping unleash their ability.

“My pitch (for this job) was my excitement about the lack of ceiling they have, this team is ready to fly and my job is to take the handbrake off,” he said.

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“I want to free the players up and have them play to their potential. It’s a beautifully balanced side.

“The team is a in great position to grow wings and fly. There are some exciting young cricketers and the world is their oyster… there’s nothing this group cannot achieve.

“I’m very fortunate that the younger players have tasted international cricket and understand what it takes to win at international level, but they are still very much at the start of their journey. It’s a really exciting time to be taking over.

“When you take over any England cricket team, World Cups and Ashes series are top of the priority list. It doesn’t matter what stage the team is at. They’re the things you focus on.

“Australia have been dominant and rightly so. But we’re looking to play a brand of cricket to go and challenge them and push them off the top.”

It has not escaped Lewis’ attention that one of the key figures in establishing Australian hegemony in women’s cricket, Matthew Mott, is currently a colleague at the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Mott won three World Cups in charge of Australia but swapped his job with the Southern Stars to take over as England men’s white-ball side and has already banked the T20 World Cup title.

Not long ago it was Mott’s business to find weaknesses in the England set-up, but now he will be asked to help eradicate them.

“I haven’t spoken to him yet but I definitely will be,” said Lewis.

“It would be pretty dumb not to, he’s an amazing resource for us to tap into. I coached with him for two series during the summer and we got on pretty well so I will be speaking to Motty about what he did with the Australia team, the journey they went on and also the areas they felt they could pinpoint in our group to win games of cricket.”

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England will name a vice-captain for returning skipper Heather Knight shortly before the series starts in Antigua on December 4.

Regular deputy Nat Sciver, who took a break from the game at the end of the summer to prioritise her mental health, has chosen to ease herself back into the playing group without a leadership role but is expected to be back in post in the future.

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