No return date has been set for superstar Meg Lanning and vice-captain Rachel Haynes has hung up her bat months out from a T20 World Cup but newly appointed head coach Shelley Nitschke is a long way from hitting the panic button.
Cricket Australia confirmed what most suspected would happen, naming Nitschke as the head coach of the Australian Women’s Cricket team for the next four years.
Nitschke, 45, was named interim head coach in May following the resignation of Matthew Mott.
One of the world’s leading all-rounders, Nitschke broke into the Australian team in 2005 as a 28-year-old and went on to play 80 One-Day Internationals, 36 Twenty20’s and six Test matches. In that time, she amassed over 3,000 runs and claimed more than 150 wickets with her left-arm orthodox bowling.
After serving as the assistant coach since 2018 it was no surprise Nitschke settled into her new role quickly – leading the Aussie’s to gold at the sports’ Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham earlier this year.
Her appointment follows the news that vice-captain Haynes was retiring and Lanning announcing she was taking a break from the sport.
“Rachael is a massive void both on and off the field,” Nitschke said.
“She is going to be really hard to replace.”
Nitschke stopped short of naming her top pick to replace Haynes.
“I wouldn’t like to single anyone out,” she said. “There is a good group of emerging leaders in our team that are going to have an opportunity to stick their hands up for different roles over the next six to 12 months.
“It is an exciting time to see where that takes us and our emerging leaders and how they go about their business.”
The new coach remained tight lipped on Lanning’s expected return date but was confident she would rejoin the team in the near future.
“Meg is having a break from the game and we are giving her that space,” Nitschke said.
“When the time is right we’ll have those conversations about whether she is back in December or whenever it might be.”
Nitschke doesn’t have any grand plans to reshape the squad or mess with what has proven to be a winning formula.
“If it isn’t broke don’t fix it,” Nitschke said.
“I certainly won’t be going in there and changing everything we do because we have been successful. I think it is about evolving the game and looking to improve.”
On top of her national team commitments Nitschke will continue to coach the Perth Scorchers WBBL side for this season – the final year of her contract with the club.
Nitschke’s first assignment will be Australia’s five-match T20 tour of India in December, with a home bilateral series against Pakistan in January to wrap-up Australia’s preparations ahead the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in February in South Africa.
Originally published as Shelley Nitschke appointed as Australian women’s cricket team head coach for next four years