Molly Strano hails mentor Kristen Beams for helping her transform as a bowler

Women's CricZone Staff
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Molly Strano hails mentor Kristen Beams for helping her transform as a bowler

Kristen Beams and Molly Strano. © Getty Images

Australia off-spinner Molly Strano credited former Australia international and Victoria teammate Kristen Beams for her evolution as a spin bowler through her career. She said the leg-spinner helped her learn and develop her craft as she tried to, initially, deal with a case of second season blues, and make her way into the national team.

“I just can't thank Beamsy enough - she was so generous with her time and knowledge,” Strano said on The Inside Edge Podcast. “And while she was trying to forge her career at Australia, she was also unofficially coaching me down at Victoria - helping me tinker with my game and work out who I was as an off-spinner and what my craft looked like. Because during that phase I really got the yips and I didn't know what I was doing or I just didn't know my craft."

Strano, who has played seven T20Is for Australia so far, called Beams her "unofficial coach and mentor" for helping her to transform from a slow off-spinner to someone who can open the bowling in T20s and restrict the batters with her fast, accurate deliveries.

"My spin bowling mentor and my unofficial coach throughout all my Victorian years has been is Kristen Beams and I just idolized everything she did and really looked up to her. I am just a massive fan of how she goes about her cricket - the way she sees the game and even her journey is a special one. She had to move from Tassie (Tasmania) to Victoria to chase First-Class (List-A) opportunities. Then, she made her debut as a 29-year-old for Australia and I just love her story,” Strano said.

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Reflecting on how she - much like Beams - started off as a "loopy" bowler, Strano said her transformation came down to the T20 revolution.

"I think Beamsy and I were quite similar early in our career, she bowled her loopy leggies and I bowled my loopy offies. I think that was just the product of the game - there wasn't much of T20 cricket, we played a lot of longer format cricket. So, we had the opportunity to toss up the ball and give the ball a bit of air."

"I just sort of watched Beamsy's evolution since walking into Aussie set up and how her bowling changed over time and how successful she was at international level playing white ball cricket; she got quicker through the air and she is similar to me as well. I know she is a leg-spinner and I am an off-spinner, but both not massive turners of the ball. So, our general philosophy around spin bowling is the same - attack the stumps, don't give the batters any width to play with and just bowl really tight lines.”

"She was generous with her time and knowledge, she was pretty much passing all the information she was getting up there (in the Australian team) down to me at Victoria and she was helping me change my own game and work out how I could be successful at the First-Class level too, because I don't think my slow, loopy offies were going to cut it in the Big Bash and they would have orbited off the bat quicker the other way,” she laughed.

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Strano, who plays for Melbourne Renegades in the Women’s Big Bash League, also thanked Lachlan Stevens, head coach of Renegades, for helping her transform into a successful T20 bowler. Strano said it was Stevens who told her not to worry about getting sideways movement with the ball, but focus on her strengths - getting the ball to drift or "swing away" and beat the batters on the outside edge.

"I was always searching for the perfect off-spin ball, Nathan Lyon like, out of the rough spinning it sideways through the gate. I remember I had a moment with Lockie Stevens where he just really made it simple for me and the penny dropped for me. He was like 'Why you are stressing so much about turning it sideways? Your strength is you can swing the new ball and test the outside edge and you get shape through the air like no other off-spinner does. So, why don't you just embrace that?"

"With a little bit of mentoring from Lockie and with a little bit of help from Beamsy - getting a little bit more pace on the ball which helped me swing the ball a little bit too - I was also able to work out what my craft looked like. I am not your typical off-spinner, but them two people have played massive role in me working out what my craft looks like and how I can perform best at first-class level."