By Graham Hardcastle
Four years of the Kia Super League has undoubtedly helped local women’s county players develop their games, but the Yorkshire Diamonds are proof that the legacy of the competition spreads even wider.
Since the start of the Super League in 2016, the Diamonds have employed a trio of head coaches – Rich Pyrah for the first year, Paul Grayson in 2017 and 2018 and Danielle Hazell this summer.
All three have progressed their own careers on the back of the experience, most recently former England spinner Hazell, who was last month announced as the new coach of the Leeds-based team for The Hundred next summer.
Pyrah was appointed the full-time bowling coach of the Yorkshire men after his Diamonds role, while similarly Grayson took on the role of the county’s batting coach at the start of March.
“That’s a real positive for the Diamonds and the Super League as a whole to reflect upon,” said Grayson. “Results are important, of course they are. But development of those involved also needs to happen, and it has.
“Gareth Breese (Grayson’s assistant coach in his two years in charge) has also moved on and is working full time with the England women. He’s their lead spin bowling coach.
“Working with the Diamonds was something new and different for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. They were a good set of girls with an excellent work ethic.
“I enjoyed working with Lauren Winfield as captain. It was a shame we couldn’t win a few more games along the way.
“Last year, I thought we made some progress, which looks like it’s been carried on this year with their performances.
“From a personal point of view, I would have been very happy to carry on with the Diamonds had the batting coach’s job not come up with Yorkshire.”
Hazell and Charlotte Edwards are two former England internationals who will take charge of Hundred teams next summer, with Edwards leading the Southampton team.
Ex-Australia international Lisa Keightley will also be in charge of the Lord’s based women’s team, and Grayson would love to see more female representation in coaching positions across the game.
“I was always very keen to get a female coach into the group because they’ll know the players much better,” he said.
“I think that’s worked really well for the Diamonds this year from all accounts.
“I see it as really important for women’s cricket moving forwards that we do encourage more women to get involved in coaching and make sure it’s not just male ex-first-class cricketers taking the jobs.
“Obviously, it has to be the right candidate for the job. It doesn’t have to be the head coach either, it can be an assistant or a specialist batting or bowling coach.
“The KSL has definitely pushed the women’s game forward.
“A lot of the girls are getting used to cricket at that level, and they have to be playing more and more to understand what it’s like in pressurised situations. That’s the only way they will get better.
“The profile of the game has risen through this competition. The players have loved it, and the coaches have too.”
Meanwhile, Western Storm claimed the final KSL title by beating Southern Vipers in Sunday’s final at Hove. Storm won 10 of 11 games this season, losing only to the Diamonds at Taunton last week.