Danielle Hazell will continue her habit for blazing a trail for women’s cricket after she was last week named as the first English female coach for the inaugural season of The Hundred next summer.
The 31-year-old has been appointed coach of the Leeds-based women’s team for the new 100-ball format, which is set to launch next July with a men’s and women’s five-week tournament to run side-by-side.
It is the latest step in the progress of women’s cricket in this country – a journey that Hazell has been front and centre of during a nine-year England career she called time on in January.
The Durham-born spinner was amongst the first group of England players to be offered a central contract five years ago which has paved the way for successes such as that memorable Lord’s afternoon in 2017, when England won the ICC Women’s World Cup in spectacular fashion.
Hazell was, of course, a part of that team and as a three-time Ashes winner, a former England captain and having also held the status as the number-one ranked women’s Twenty20 bowler in the world she has set the blueprint for the next generation of players to follow.
“I’m just glad I get to put something back now to my part of the world as a coach,” Hazell said.
“I’ve got to travel the world as a player, which was great, but I have always had a strong interest in the game and I have always wanted to give back to it.
“It’s an exciting time for women’s cricket. It’s nice to be involved in it as a coach now and it’s exciting to see where The Hundred takes the women’s game and the effect that it has in the future.”
Having seen where the game had come from since the start of her career Hazell knows what the tournament, in addition to the multi-million investment into the women’s game by the ECB over the next two years, can do to ensure women’s cricket takes the next step.
“It is going to push the game forward,” she said.
“The more professionalism you have in the game that equals more coaching, more knowledge, more nutrition, more understanding of the game and the more that people are in that environment they are going to thrive.
“It’s about the cricket, but it’s about things that happen around the game and understanding that there is a pressure around playing and understanding how you go about that. It’s as much about your life off the cricket field as it is on it as well.
“This will help make that part of the game easier. When we go into schools and ask kids if they want to be a cricketer they say ‘yeah’, but there’s more to just the on-field.
“Now there’s a clear pathway where six or eight years ago it was quite a hard path to go down. Now there is a clear domestic pathway into international cricket.
“That makes things smoother and hopefully players will stay in the game or not go off to other sports when it comes to have a pathway.
“We have seen that over the past few years with England winning the women’s World Cup, there was a natural stepping stone from that to push the game forward.
“The Hundred is slightly different, and not a lot of people have played it, so you have to go into it with an open mind.
“At the end of the day it is still a bat and a ball and we’re playing a game that we all enjoy. It’s still an off drive, it’s still a pull shot and people are excited about it, whether they’re excited because they don’t understand it or because it is something different, but it’s something we should look forward to.”