25 Jan

Sarah Aley, the Australian former Sixers and NSW pace bowler, has turned her attention to coaching, as she seeks a way to give back to the game following her retirement from playing in November 2020. 

Aley is one of three players selected for Cricket NSW’s first elite coaching apprenticeship program specifically designed for women, alongside current Breakers allrounder Lisa Griffith and former Breakers squad member Hannah Trethewy. 

The program aims to ensure the development of female coaches keeps pace with the game, which has been going from strength to strengths thanks to the success of the Australian women’s team and the Rebel WBBL. 

Aley has long had an interest in coaching and has held various roles mentoring players coming through the NSW pathway while playing elite cricket; she now hopes the apprenticeship will be the launching pad to a new post-playing career. 

"It’s going to involve a few different things on the tools and also learning a bit about myself as a coach and as a leader and trying to upskill," Aley told cricket.com.au. 

"It’s not about being pigeonholed with just female coaching (either), there’s going to be some male pathways and NSW Blues experience in there as well, to get a different perspective, as well as the opportunity to look at other sports and other coaches to see how they go about things. 

"It’s been something that’s always been in the background at certain stages throughout my career … I’ve taken on a mentor role as I got older within teams and squads, and it feels like a natural fit and something people have felt I had a talent for, so they kept giving me jobs within the pathways systems at NSW. 

"Now I’ve finished playing, it’s a way I feel I can give back to the game I’ve been involved with for more than half my life, and as a player who played in both the non-professional era as well as the more professional era, I feel I’ve got perspectives with both sides of things." 

Currently, there are three women who hold head coach roles with state or Big Bash teams; Shelley Nitschke (Scorchers, also Australia assistant coach), Becky Grundy (WA) and Salliann Briggs (Tasmania and Hurricanes) – and both CA and Cricket New South Wales want the number of elite female coaches to continue to grow. 

The coaching apprenticeships follows Cricket NSW’s introduction of a head of female cricket last year, becoming the first state to do so when former Australia and Breakers batter Leah Poulton took on the role. 

"There have never been more opportunities for women and girls to play cricket,” Poulton said. 

"More than 30 percent of players at all levels and ages participating in cricket are now female. It’s important we create opportunities for women to contribute to our sport in a range of roles. The development of more female coaches, umpires and administrators is an important next step and can only enrich our great game.I’m thrilled to have Hannah, Sarah and Lisa as part of our coaching team. All three are wonderful role models. Their energy and knowledge will be a great asset to our programs." 

John Stephenson 


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