First, but not the last: Osborne breaks ground in coaching job
World Cup winner Erin Osborne will oversee the next generation of ACT talent after being handed a major promotion
26 June 2021, 12:19 PM AEST
Erin Osborne was not always convinced a career in coaching was in her future.
But now the former Australia spinner is breaking new ground, and she is adamant the sky is the limit when it comes to women in elite coaching roles.
Osborne has been appointed Cricket ACT’s Male Pathway Manager, becoming the first woman to hold the role, and it’s a job she is set to combine with her current duties coaching the ACT’s female Meteors Development Squad, as she oversees the next generation of talent coming out Canberra.
The four-time World Cup winner initially doubted whether her future lay in coaching - "I didn't know if I'd be good at it," she told cricket.com.au - but Osborne now draws more enjoyment from mentoring than from playing.
The 31-year-old was part of a ground breaking pilot program in 2020, designed to keep players involved in the game and to address the lack of female coaches at the elite level of the game as part of Australian Cricket’s Press for Progress strategy.
Last summer, three out of 11 head coaches across the WBBL and WNCL are female, while a further five women held formal assistant roles across the two competitions.
No women hold current positions with men's state or BBL teams, although former Hobart Hurricanes WBBL coach Julia Price made history in KFC BBL|09 when she joined the Brisbane Heat as an assistant coach for part of the season, and a female has never held the top position of a senior elite men's side.
It’s a trend Osborne is optimistic will change in the future.
"Why wouldn’t you want to have more women involved?" she said.
"It’s only going to better the game, and that’s not to say men don’t have a role in coaching female teams and vice-versa – I think females can also have a role in coaching male teams.
"If you’ve got a talented coach, why wouldn’t you give them an opportunity no matter what sex they are?
"It would be great to see a female coaching a BBL team one day and I don’t see why it can’t happen."
The journey from player to coach started two years ago, when Osborne found herself in discussion with Cricket ACT’s then-General Manager of High Performance (and now current CEO) Olivia Thornton around what her future could look like once she did put away the kit bag for good.
"I was really hesitant when I first started, but I’ve found it extremely rewarding," Osborne reflected.
"It’s brought back the love of the game for me and it’s definitely something I see being long-term and I’m very grateful to Cricket ACT for giving me the opportunity.
"It’s something I can see myself doing for a long time … I’ve been fortunate to have great opportunities in the female coaching space (and now) I’m very grateful Cricket ACT have provided me with another opportunity with the pathways and trusting me with that program, because it’s quite a big one in our region.
"The development from the young girls and boys, at that age they pick up skills so quickly and for me, that’s so satisfying and rewarding, and so is knowing there’s a pathway for these kids now in our region, that’s a really pleasing thing.
"To be part of that and to have an opportunity to give back to the game as well – I moved to Canberra six years ago and they welcomed me with open arms and provided me with some wonderful opportunities and I think I’ve now found the way I can give back to the game and the community."
The off-spinner, who played the last of her 121 matches for Australia in 2016, has not called time on her playing career just yet either.
Osborne has a year left to run on her current contract with the Melbourne Stars, and while she is no longer contracted to the ACT Meteors, having opted against another 12-month state contract due to her burgeoning coaching career, she is still training with the squad and hopes to play in the domestic 50-over competition when available this coming summer.
These dual commitments lay the foundation for a hectic season ahead, but Osborne is embracing the challenge.
"It is a bit of a juggling act but I’m hoping I can continue playing with the Meteors this upcoming season, and I also have one more season left with the Melbourne Stars and I’m looking forward to that," she said.
"I’m really fortunate I’ve had a lot of help from (Cricket ACT Coach Development Manager) Mick Delaney, who is going to step in when I go away from the Big Bash.
"I’m lucky to have his support as well as Liv in allowing me to continue to play and juggle this new job."