ICC Women's ODI World Cup 2022
Aussie assistant coach joins NSW Breakers
Highly rated coach Ben Sawyer joins New South Wales, but will still be part of Australia's next World Cup campaign
9 July 2020, 04:00 PM AEST
Australia will retain the services of Ben Sawyer for their Women’s ODI World Cup campaign early next year, despite the highly rated assistant coach taking on a new full-time role with Cricket New South Wales.
The two-time WBBL winning mentor has been appointed NSW Breakers’ assistant coach, a role he will combine with his Big Bash duties in charge of the Sydney Sixers.
Sawyer has worked and travelled with the Australian women as an assistant coach since 2018, a period that included an away Ashes win and two successful T20 World Cup campaigns, while his influence over the fast-bowling group has been lauded by the likes of star allrounder Ellyse Perry.
It was a contracted role tied into training camps and tours – different from the full-time assistant position held by Shelley Nitschke.
Australia’s hectic schedule across the past two years kept Sawyer on the road more often than not, but a combination of circumstance and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic made the full-time offer from Cricket NSW an attractive prospect.
The Australian team are on a six-month hiatus from playing – a break planned prior to the pandemic – while the usual preseason training camps in Brisbane have not been held due to travel restrictions.
Sawyer’s planned winter stint in the United Kingdom, where he would have coached Birmingham’s women in the inaugural women’s Hundred, also did not go ahead after the competition launch was postponed until 2021.
Speaking to cricket.com.au on Thursday, Cricket Australia Female High Performance Manager Shawn Flegler revealed an agreement had already been reached between Cricket Australia and Cricket NSW that will allow Sawyer to re-join the Australian team for their ODI World Cup campaign in New Zealand early next year.
"We would have loved to have been able to offer Ben a full-time contract, but in the current situation we weren’t in a position to do that – but NSW were and it combines his role with the Sydney Sixers and the NSW Breakers," Flegler said.
"Once we come out of this, next financial year, we’ll review where we’re at, but for him it’s great he’s still involved in the system and seeing the up-and-coming bowlers, so it’s a bit of a win-win to be honest.
"For him it’s a great opportunity to have some stability for his family for a couple of years and stay connected to the system, he was really clear that he wanted to stay involved with the Australian team if he could.
"We identified the World Cup as the priority event and (Australian coach) Matthew Mott was keen to have Ben as the bowling coach for that tournament.
"Cricket NSW have been really good with that, they see it’s a really good opportunity for Ben as well."
Sawyer’s Breakers commitments mean he will not be with the Australian squad for their upcoming home ODI and T20I series against New Zealand starting in late September, and Flegler said options were still being discussed for that tour.
"Motty and Shelley are two very experienced coaches, and we’ve got Sunny Kaliyar who is a level three coach as well as our analyst and has been with the team for a long time," he said.
"He’s a very good coach in his own right, so we’ve still got to decide what we do there, whether we bring someone else into that role just for that series, or we keep it consistent with the existing staff."
Sawyer said he was excited to be part of the Breakers program full-time, where he’ll work alongside Breakers head coach Dominic Thornely.
He will also link up with former CA high performance coach Leah Poulton, who joined NSW as Head of Female Cricket earlier this year.
"I’ve had a variety of part time roles with the Sixers, the Emerging Blues and the Breakers," Sawyer said.
"Now I’ll have more opportunities to sit around with other coaches and share ideas working with the squad 12 months of the year, not just floating in and out.
"Being full-time I’ll be able to get to know the players even better, particularly the younger girls in the Breakers, and not just rely on other opinions."