New England women’s head coach Jon Lewis says “the team are ready to fly” as they prepare for their winter tour of the West Indies.
The white ball tour is Lewis’ first in charge, and he’s been boosted by captain Heather Knight’s return from injury.
He takes over a team that is beginning to transition, with Lisa Keightley bloodying plenty of young talent over the summer – but it excites him.
“The ceiling is incredibly high for this group of players,” he said.
Speaking after his first training session with the team, Lewis said the team had benefited from their young players’ early exposure to international cricket.
“We have a beautifully balanced squad,” he said.
“With some players emerging this summer who might not have had those opportunities had all of our senior players been fit, we could be in a very different position now.
“But I’m very lucky that they’ve had a taste of international cricket now and know what it takes to win at international level.”
It was a tough end to the summer for England and a tough end to Lisa Keightley’s reign. They beat South Africa in the multi-format series but finished fourth at the Commonwealth Games and lost 3-0 in the one-day internationals to India.
They were without Knight, who underwent hip surgery, while Nat Sciver and Katherine Brunt took breaks from the game.
But Lewis is taking the Caribbean side with all three fit and available – despite Brunt only being selected for the T20 leg of the tour and Sciver opting out of vice-captain – and is excited to combine his experience with the emerging talent of Alice Capsey, Issy Wong, Lauren Bell and Freya Kemp.
“They are exciting young cricketers and the world is theirs,” he said. “I’m excited to help them unlock that potential and there’s nothing this group can’t achieve.
“I think this team is ready to fly. My job is to release the handbrake, set them free and allow them to play to their full potential.”
While the West Indies tour is Lewis’ first assignment, attention soon turns to the T20 World Cup in South Africa in February, a tournament in which England will be desperate to impress after missing out on the final in 2020. .
They reached the 50 plus World Cup final in March only to be beaten by Australia but Lewis is confident they can bounce back.
“We know we’re not far from winning trophies, and there were little moments in those games that if they had been our way we would be world champions,” added Lewis, a former Gloucestershire dressmaker, 47 years old.
“But Australia have been dominant, and rightly so they play fantastic cricket, but we’re looking to play a brand of cricket to challenge them and bring them down from the top.”