“Some of the girls are at the same stage as the boys are… they’re similar age. But those extra two years will just allow more people to stay in the system, more people to develop. That’s my personal view. But if it ends up being the Under-19s, it’s still going to be a great initiative and great progression for the game.”
Robinson, currently touring Sri Lanka with the England team, has overseen three straight series wins after they lost the ODI leg of their India tour 2-1 last month. They thumped India 3-0 in the T20Is that followed, replicated the feat in the ODI series against Sri Lanka, and, on Tuesday, took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the T20I series, stretching their winning streak across limited-overs formats to nine matches.
A big international home summer, too, awaits England as they gear up to host West Indies in June and Australia, for the points-based multi-format Ashes, in July.
Although wary of the might of the current Ashes holders, who also beat his team comprehensively in the World T20 final last November, Robinson said England have substantial time to iron out creases ahead of Austealia’s arrival.
“We’ve got a lot of cricket to try and sort out things,” Robinson said. “What we’re trying to do is create options in positions; always try and see who your best players are, and the back-up players as well. So when the Ashes come around, you have all your best, key players – your Brunts, Taylors, Knights, Shrubsole and Beaumonts – all fit.
“We’ve got a good record against Australia. We drew the last Ashes [after losing the ODI leg]. We are the 50-overs holders of the World Cup. But Australia have made a move as well. They’ve moved their cricket on, so we’ll have to be at our best to beat them. That’ll be the ambition and hope.”
Mark Robinson, coach of England women, addresses the huddle Getty Images
Emphasising the giant strides made by women’s cricket in Australia, Robinson echoed former England captain Charlotte Edwards in underlining the importance of the new secondary-schools initiative for girls that the national cricket charity Chance to Shine is set to launch in England and Wales.
“It will bridge the gap between primary school to secondary, and keeps that interest in cricket growing, allows cricket to be accessible to more people, which is fantastic,” Robinson said. “The girls then will need to go and play in the clubs, and from the clubs they need to have good coaching, and hopefully progress into the county system, into the KSL, the Hundred, and hopefully one day into England. You’ll have all those bridges joined up.
“One thing Australia have done really, really well is, they’ve been ahead of the rest of the world in the strength of their professionals. You know you’ve got a hundred professionals, and that’s a big advantage to Australia against the rest of the world. We’ve got to look at ways to bridge the gap and one way to do that is initiatives like this secondary-school programme.”
Robinson was as optimistic – although reluctant to put his finger on a likely year – about the prospect of England women getting a female head coach.
“You hope so, don’t you?” Robinson said, pointing to the possibilities that could be opened up in the wake of the KSL franchise Yorkshire Diamonds’ appointment of Danielle Hazell, the recently retired England offspinner, as head coach.
“Danielle Hazelle… she’s got an early opportunity,” Robinson said. “She’ll need some good people around her. She’s a bright girl, got good cricket knowledge, and I’m sure she’ll do really, really, well.”
Robinson, 52, however, said that in a set-up like the ECB’s, earning one’s stripes is what has and will lay the pathway for any coaching aspirant irrespective of their gender.
“That’s what you want, really,” Robinson said. “You want women to come in. But they’ve got to do the yards. They’ve got to learn how to do the job. By doing the yards I mean… I went from second-team young players, second team, first team, England Lions with the men, to this job. You can’t cheat experience, whether you’re a player or a coach, you need that experience.
“So Danielle, or any of these players, they need to get experience – hopefully the KSL, hopefully county cricket, earn the reputation and the experience; learn how to understand the difficulties that players go through, get things wrong and get things right. And when the best chance comes available, and you’ve got the knowledge and experience on their CV where they can put themselves forward.”
England men’s coach Trevor Bayliss and his women’s counterpart Mark Robinson Getty Images
A former fast bowler, who oversaw two County Championship wins with Sussex, Robinson’s own credentials as England women head coach has only grown from strength to strength since he took charge of England in November 2015. In a recent interview to the BBC, he admitted that he “came from the men’s game and some point I might go back,” but said replacing England men’s head coach Trevor Bayliss was not “on the radar”.
Having led England women to two straight world tournament finals, Robinson played down his own contribution, attributing much of the success to his team’s commitment and restraint. Their willingness to embrace change, to step out of their comfort zone and, most of all, their “togetherness” as a unit, he said, is what has made his own “CV look like what it looks like now.”
“Perhaps we’re still a similar team in terms of potential, since when we started off,” Robinson said. “We’ve got some gaps we need to fill. But these girls are honest, hard-working, and a lot more resilient.
“As a staff, we’ve not been scared of making decisions. We’ve challenged the girls. But the credit goes to the girls because when we asked them to be fitter, they made themselves fitter. When we asked them to take themselves out of their comfort zones and made them do things that make them feel uncomfortable – like Sarah Taylor – they’ve done things like that, and become more resilient.
“They train harder and cleverer. They take time off when we ask them to take time off and get away from the game. So from my and the staff’s point of view, we’ve tried to accept defeat and victory and treat them at the same.
“We try not to over-celebrate when we win, we try not to overanalyse when we lose, and try and be as consistent as we can. We’ve asked the girls to be a very, very honest team, a humble team. If we try and do the simple things, we may not be the best all the time on paper, but that collective togetherness can take us a long way.”