Lisa Keightley 'happy' with teams' progress in her first ODI assignment

Shajin Mohanan S
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Lisa Keightley. © Getty Images

Lisa Keightley was appointed as the England head coach in October 2019, but she didn’t travel with the side when they played Pakistan in Malaysia in December the same year. With England not playing any ODIs in 2020, the New Zealand tour turned out to be her first series as a coach in the format although she started her coaching stint with the T20 series against West Indies at home in September 2020.

England clinched the series with convincing wins in the first two ODIs, before going down by seven wickets in the third match at the University Oval in Dunedin on Sunday (February 28). “I've been new in the role and haven't had much experience around the girls playing 50 over cricket,” Keightley said at a media interaction after the match on Sunday.

The former Australia cricketer is pleased with the way England have been able to give game time to some of the inexperienced players and observe their performance in the format. “We've been able to give some players more experience. Sarah Glenn hasn't played much, Freya Davies hasn't played much, Tash Farrant is only played a handful of games. From the bowling unit and obviously not having Anya Shrubsole around, it was good to expose some players and to see what they can do really,” Keightley said.

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“It's been great for me to have a look at the players, to see how we lining up and who's doing well and what our strengths are and areas to improve and to start to build a brand in 50-over cricket that we want to play.”

Talking further about the brand of cricket they want to play in the ODI format, Keightley added they want to play with a focus on taking wickets and allowing batters to play aggressively. “We're working really hard to take wickets, in 50-over cricket, if you can take wickets up front and I suppose throughout the middle, that sets you up in the back end to keep teams quiet because you've got most of the batters out. So, that's a real key for us,” Keightley added.

“We're really working hard on batters getting hundreds and partnerships and putting the pressure on. Strike rates we are looking at, it's really helpful if most of our batters are going one hundred or just over.”

The  49-year-old Keightley lauded allrounders Natalie Sciver and Katherine Brunt for the role they played in the series win. “Having Nat Sciver and Katherine Brunt as allrounders really helps us to have a bit more depth and a few more options with the ball. I want to give all those bowlers as much opportunity as they can to improve and be able to execute their skills under pressure. So, when we get to that World Cup, we can have a look at the conditions and as long as we've got a really well-rounded bowling unit with lots of options, be whoever is really bowling well and putting their hand up to get that spot.”

She also had special words of praise for the player of the series, Tammy Beaumont, who finished the series with scores of 71, 73* and 88*. “Beaumont, I suppose, showed her dominance in this format. It's been brilliant for her to score as many runs as she has, and she's been a real anchor for us,” Keightley said.

“In the last five years, she's got probably the most runs for England. She's consistent, she knows the game really well in the ODI format. We just wanted to churn out as many runs as she can in the next 12 months to make sure she's getting better even still moving into a World Cup.”

Beaumont’s opening partner Danielle Wyatt had a tough time in the series, having failed to make any substantial contributions in all three matches. But Keightley backed her to come good and form a good partnership at the top in the upcoming T20Is.

“Everyone knows what a class player Dan is, she probably hasn't had the runs that she wanted. She just needs to have a clear, clear mind back her ability and execute. When Dan's going, with Dan and Tammy up the front, it's a really exciting time when that happens and I'm backing them that we'll see that throughout the summer,” Keightley concluded.