Photo Credit: ECB
Sydney Thunder is pleased to announce it has signed one of cricket’s most sought-after coaches, former Australia representative Lisa Keightley, to guide the club’s talent rich Weber Women’s Big Bash League squad for the next three years.
Keighley, who appeared in nine Tests, 82 One Day Internationals, and one T20 match, is considered a great of NSW and Australian cricket.
As a member of the NSW Breakers, Keightley’s 91 matches yielded 3081 runs at 37.12. Her achievements in the WNCL also include coaching the Breakers to two WNCL titles; scoring three centuries; 21 half centuries and capturing 10 wickets at 27.6.
Since her retirement from cricket in 2005, Keightley’s accomplishments as a Head Coach for numerous prestigious teams has enhanced her standing in the sport.
Besides creating history as the first woman to coach Australia’s national team, and then England, she’s also coached NSW, Western Australia, guided the Perth Scorchers to two WBBL Final appearances (2017-18), and led England’s Women’s Academy.
The former right-handed batter – who is remembered for being the first woman to score a century at Lord’s, and who’s unconquered 156 against Pakistan in 1997 is the second highest by an Australian in Women’s ODI – is currently in South Africa as the Tactical Performance coach for the domestic T20 team, Paarl Royals.
Keightley described her appointment with Sydney Thunder – where she replaces Trevor Griffin, who navigated the club to the WBBL|06 title and who fostered the club’s young talent – as an exciting “challenge”.
“I know Sydney Thunder has a good history, and it has won two titles,” she said. “There’s also a good group of players who have enjoyed success.
“When I say it’s a challenge, it’s in the sense of the team having a couple of seasons where they’d want to be. I’ll be making sure we’re competitive and winning games of cricket.
“Thunder has a core of players who have played for a number of years and have enjoyed success. I’m hoping it won’t take too much.”
Keightley said she looked forward to working with Thunder’s talented youngsters, including 19-year-old Phoebe Litchfield, who starred in Australia’s recent One Day series against Pakistan by becoming the youngest player to score a half century on debut, and the first Aussie player to start her international career by hitting back-to-back half centuries.
“Hannah Darlington has had success, as has Phoebe Litchfield,” said Keightley.
“Tahlia Wilson has been playing in [the NSW WNCL team] consistently over the years, and she’ll be looking to improve and have an impact.
“I look at other players and see Sammy-Jo Johnson as a seasoned campaigner who is probably a little disappointed in how she played this year. However, she’s had success in the past, so I can see no reason why that can’t be turned around.
“Then you have the likes of Lauren Smith, another player who has played for a number of years and had success throughout the WBBL. It’s a matter of, to me, some overseas players being in and around the quality that we’ve got, and then playing some consistent cricket.”
Keightley said she planned to work closely with Thunder’s players throughout the year so they’re aware of the brand of cricket that’s expected of the team during WBBL|09 and beyond.
“I’m looking forward to connecting with the players, especially the Sydney-based ones to make sure when we go into that competition it doesn’t feel new,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to helping them and discussing their games and where they’d like to be. I want to share my observations of how they’re playing, and maybe, the areas where they can grow, learn, and stretch.
“I think that would be a good transition to make during the year, rather than coming in two weeks before the WBBL. I think that’s the nice bit of the challenge; knowing when we play in the WBBL that they’re clear about the brand of cricket we want to play.”
Head of Thunder Andrew Gilchrist said he was confident Keightley would usher in a new era for the club.
“Lisa Keightley is one of world cricket’s most respected coaches, and we are thrilled to have her as our Head Coach,” he said.
“She has proven herself at every level of the game, and her work in recent years to help turn England into a powerhouse through her efforts with that country’s national team and also, it’s Women’s Academy, inspires everyone at Thunder to believe she can have the same impact here.
“Lisa has made it clear she wants to work with Thunder’s players throughout the season, and that can only be beneficial for the squad regardless of whether they are raw rookies or experienced campaigners.
“Sydney Thunder welcomes Lisa, and we can’t wait for her to get started on plotting our WBBL team’s future.”