Capturing the three biggest prizes in women’s cricket and nailing the 20-over game are top of the agenda for Australia head coach Matthew Mott as he settles in for another three years at the helm of the World No.1 ranked Southern Stars.
Cricket Australia today announced Mott’s contract has been extended until June 2020, a period that will cover this year’s 50-over World Cup in England, two Ashes series and two World T20s – the first of which will be held in the Caribbean next November ahead a tournament on home soil in early 2020.
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Australia have added several pieces of silverware to the trophy cabinet since Mott took the reins from former mentor Cathryn Fitzpatrick in March 2015, claiming the Ashes on English soil for the first time since 2001 and winning the inaugural ICC Women’s Championship, while they have also strengthened their grip on the No.1 ranking and made the final of the World T20 in India last year.
"It’s been interesting to take over a team that’s had so much success, you do tend to judge yourself quite harshly,” Mott told cricket.com.au.
"Our one-day game has been very strong over the two years and winning the one-day championship was probably the highlight.
"It shows consistency against other teams, both home and away, over a long period of time.
"The team was very proud of that and with it being the inaugural trophy, that added significance."
Ensuring the World Cup – which the Southern Stars claimed after defeating the Windies in the 2013 final – and the Ashes remain in Australian hands are the most pressing concerns for Mott’s squad this year.
But longer term, Mott knows his biggest challenge will likely lie in the Twenty20 arena.
The gap between the world’s top teams is closing fastest in the game’s shortest format and while Australia have not lost an ODI series since mid-2013, they haven’t managed the same unblemished record in T20Is during the last two years, losing to West Indies in last year’s World T20 final in addition to four consecutive T20 series defeats, to England, India and twice to New Zealand.
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With a chance to win back the title of T20 World Champions looming in the Caribbean in November 2018, and the pressure of a home World T20 in 2020, Mott knows his charges need to get it right in the shortest form of the game.
"The biggest disappointment is that we still haven’t nailed our T20 cricket,” Mott said.
"We’ve still got a lot of work to do there, we’ve exposed a few players and we blooded three debutants last summer.
"But with the World T20 not too far away, that might be our biggest challenge, getting our T20 game right.
"We’ve experimented a lot with our selections and I think we’ve been pretty bold.
"We’ll experiment more and make more mistakes, but we’ll keep learning and getting better."
One thing Mott has learned about his players over the last two years is the resilience and fight evident in the world’s best team.
The Southern Stars lost the opening ODI of the 2015 Ashes before bouncing back to claim the multi-format series 10-6, while most recently in New Zealand they fought back from a 0-1 deficit to continue their 18-year hold on the Rose Bowl Trophy.
"I certainly learned in New Zealand about the resolve and resilience of the group,” Mott explained.
"We were hurting bad after that T20 series loss - it was on Channel Nine and quite public, we never like losing to the Kiwis at the best of times and the players were hurting from that.
"Then to be 1-0 down in the one-day series on their turf and up against it, the group showed real steely resolve that made me feel proud to be a part of it.
"They showed they’re a champion team, not just when they’re frontrunners, they can also come from behind.
"We’ve got a good mix, our staff are exceptional and we’re very lucky with some of the people we’ve added to the group.
"The players themselves been an exceptional unit for a long time. Staying at the top is hard, but they’re determined to extend that gap on the rest of the world."
That resilience is something Mott expects his charges will need to draw on when they defend their World Cup crown in England from June 26, tipping the tournament to be the closest yet.
"Coming second in the (World T20) was a pretty empty feeling and we’ve got it all ahead of us over in England,” he said.
"It’s going to be a wide-open World Cup; we’ll have to turn up and play at 100 per cent to win all our games.
"As far as World Cups go, this is as good as it gets with the final at the home of cricket at Lord’s.
"Having coached Glamorgan to a (English domestic one-day) final at Lord’s I know what that means. It’s a very special experience and I’d love for our players and staff to experience that day.
"The result with Glamorgan didn’t go our way, so I’d love to win at Lord’s."
Cricket Australia’s Executive General Manager Team Performance, Pat Howard, said Mott’s achievements during his first two years in the role had proved his ability to get the best out of his players.
"It’s terrific to have Matthew on board for another three years and we’re excited to see what he and the Australian team can achieve over that period,” Howard said.
"Matthew has a strong relationship with all the members of the squad and his record shows that he knows how to get the best out of his players.
"The next 12 months are huge for this group, they have the chance to continue their success in Australian sporting history and we believe Matthew is the person to make that happen."
Australia is expected to name a training squad for the World Cup later this month who will take part in a three-week camp at the Bupa National Cricket Centre in Brisbane.
From there, selectors will whittle the group down to the final 15-player touring part who will depart for England in early June, ahead of Australia’s tournament opener against West Indies in Taunton.
Australia's World Cup schedule
June 26: Australia v West Indies, Taunton
June 29: Australia v Sri Lanka, Bristol
July 2: Australia v New Zealand, Bristol
July 5: Australia v Pakistan, Leicester
July 9: Australia v England, Bristol
July 12: Australia v India, Bristol
July 15: Australia v South Africa, Taunton
July 18: First semi-final, Bristol
July 20: Second semi-final, Derby
July 23: Final, Lord's
Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes schedule
October 22: First ODI, Allan Border Field, Brisbane
October 26: Second ODI, Coffs Intl Stadium, Coffs Harbour
October 29: Third ODI, Coffs Intl Stadium, Coffs Harbour
November 9-12: Day-night Test, North Sydney Oval, Sydney
November 17: First T20I: North Sydney Oval, Sydney
November 19: First T20I: Manuka Oval, Canberra
November 21: First T20I: Manuka Oval, Canberra