Jamie Watkins to be involved in development of women’s cricket throughout Central Districts

Jamie Watkins, head coach of Central Hinds. © Getty Images

Head coach of Central Hinds, Jamie Watkins, will be closely involved in the development of women’s cricket throughout the Central Districts thanks to a new role created by the Central Districts Cricket Association (CDCA). The expanded position of ‘Coach: Female performance and pathways’ will see Watkins take up a full-time role for the first time in his coaching career.

Having previously held part-time positions with both CDCA and the Taranaki Cricket Association, Watkins had to resign from the position at TCA to take up this assignment. He will continue to be based in New Plymouth, but will have to oversee the development responsibilities of the women’s game across the region. This is one of CDCA’s many attempts to spread their coaching resources across the region to facilitate in the growth of players everywhere.

Ahead of the 2019-20 season, Dave Meiring was appointed in a similar role for the men’s game, creating a hub in Manawatu for boys coming up through age-groups. Watkins will be expected to play a similar role for the women and girls on the western coast.

“Having seen the impact Dave has made already in our region, it’s exciting to have a position now focusing solely on the female pathway, and in addition it will allow me to spend more time with the Hinds,” said Watkins. “It’s a further step in CDCA’s strategy to create and support more player depth, putting things in place to help players along the pathway, to spend more time working with them and to help us to identify them earlier.”

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In 2018-19, Watkins led Central Hinds to their first Hallyburton Johnston Shield win in a decade. He has overseen the transformation of the likes of Hannah Rowe, Rosemary Mair, Jess Watkin and Natalie Dodd – all of whom have been in and around the national team setup in recent times.

“I’m very passionate about coaching the Hinds – and it’s given my coaching a new lease of life just from my enjoyment of it,” admitted Watkins who previously coached men’s age-group cricket and is married to former New Zealand captain Aimee Watkins.

“Through Aimee I’ve been invested in the women’s game for years and it was as a supporter that I first saw what the likes of Aimee, Sara McGlashan and Rachel Priest were trying to do, as amateur players at that stage trying to play for New Zealand.”

“Investment in the women’s game has come forward in leaps and bounds since then, but it’s still a work in progress, and I can appreciate from the Hinds’ perspective what they are trying to achieve. Our domestic players still need to juggle work or study and sport and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy my role with Hinds so much – knowing what those players have to put in to perform at this level. To then see them achieve goals like winning a national trophy or making the White Ferns or getting an NZC contract – that is special, and I want to do everything I can to assist that process.”

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Watkins’ new role will give him more time to invest in the development of the players in and around the Hinds setup. He said he is excited by the opportunity to work more closely and consistently with the players.

“It will be nice to be able to spend more time with Hinds players after a round, for instance, looking at video and reviewing performances and putting plans in place for the next game. Often we haven’t had a chance to do that because everyone has to get back to their jobs across the country, including me.”

“We might have just half an hour after the game before having to head away to the airport – and of course if you have lost, that is not the time to review anything because people are down and still too invested emotionally. You have to let people digest it, then come back to it the next day or the day after. That can be a much more productive process, but previously time just didn’t allow it.”

“Being full-time with CD will allow all this to happen as now I have a chance to get around the players more.”

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The head coach also said he is looking forward to reuniting with the squad and can’t wait to get stuck into training going into the 2020-21 season.

“We’ve built a really strong team culture and have a number of players who were on the fringes two or three years ago who are now really stepping up for the team,” he said. “Players like Melissa Hansen, Emily Cunningham reached new personal landmarks last summer, and we had some very good wins. The belief is certainly there and I’m very happy to be able to continue the development from the last three years.”

Pete de Wet, CDCA chief executive, said he was thrilled the organisation was able to continue to invest in the development of the women’s game.

“We have been strategically working towards decentralising some of our coaching resources from Napier to target that next level of players who don’t necessarily centralise in Napier at camps, as our contracted Stags do. It will create a stronger coaching network across our eight District Associations, and it’s exciting to be in this position now where we have someone as passionate and experienced as Jamie working alongside Dave Meiring in this key tier,” de Wet concluded.