New Stars coach Poulton quits to head home
Just weeks after being unveiled as new coach of the Melbourne Stars, Leah Poulton has returned home to work with Cricket NSW
7 April 2020, 01:59 PM AEST
Less than a month after she was appointed coach of Melbourne Stars for the next Rebel WBBL season, former Australia opener Leah Poulton has quit to take up the role of Head of Female Cricket at Cricket NSW.
Poulton, who also oversaw Australia's female National Performance Squad based in Brisbane, claimed the newly created position at CNSW was simply "too great an opportunity to pass up" and she was excited by the prospect of returning home to Sydney.
The 36-year-old, who played two Tests and 88 limited-overs internationals during her six-year Australia career, will relinquish her national coaching duties as well as the job with the Melbourne Stars.
While Poulton admitted it was "not ideal" to resign from the Stars job just weeks after her appointment was announced, the CNSW position was created as part of a restructure of the state's high-performance program to better align their male and female pathways programs.
In her new role, she will oversee all elements of NSW's female performance program from development squads to the hugely successful NSW Breakers outfit for whom Poulton was a star performer and was a four-time winner of the Belinda Clark Medal as their best player.
"Cricket NSW has been a big part of my life for the past 20 years (and) it feels great to be coming home," Poulton said.
"NSW has an amazing history of innovation and success, I’m looking forward to working with our staff, athletes and communities to ensure we continue this great history.
"While it’s not ideal to accept a position and move on so quickly, the Head of Female Cricket role at Cricket NSW was too great an opportunity to pass up.
"I’d like to thank the Stars for everything over the past couple of months.
"Although I was only there a short time, the energy and passion was obvious.
"I have no doubt they will achieve great things in the future and wish them all the best for this season and beyond."
In a statement released today, the Stars said they respected Poulton's decision and planned to begin their search for a replacement coach, a job that had been previously held by David Hemp since the WBBL's inception in 2015, "in due course".
"While we are naturally disappointed not to have her involved, we know Leah’s expertise is highly sought after and we wish we her well," the statement said.
The Melbourne-based franchise finished bottom of the ladder in the last season's WBBL|05 and they remain the only team never to have participated in the competition's finals series.
As is the case for all coaching staff in the men’s and women’s Big Bash Leagues, Poulton’s employment with the Stars would have been primarily in-season while the CNSW position is a full-time ongoing role.
Poulton had been targeted by the Stars not only because of her experience in developing and implementing coaching strategies for some of Australia best up-and-coming players, but also due to her successful involvement in the WBBL.
In addition to coaching the women's Australia A, under-19 and under-15 squads, Poulton was assistant coach at Sydney Thunder when they claimed the inaugural WBBL crown in 2015-16.
That was also her first season after retiring from competitive cricket after more than 100 appearances for NSW, with her first coaching role being Cricket NSW's female pathways manager and assistant coach with the Breakers.
She then took up the CA role at the Bupa National Cricket Centre in Brisbane in 2017 from former Australia women's team head coach Cathryn Fitzpatrick, and CA's Female High Performance Manager Shawn Flegler today thanked her for the contribution she has made.
"Leah has played an extremely important role in the national women’s program during her time at Cricket Australia, taking the reins on the restructured National Talent Pathway and producing ready-made players capable of taking the next step into international cricket," Flegler said
"She oversaw the development of the Female National Performance Squad as well as the introduction of the Australian under-19 and Australia A programs, including the first overseas tours for female Australia under-19 and Australia A sides.
"She has been an incredible influence on the next generation of Australian players, and she should be proud of the work she has done and what she has achieved.
"Whilst it’s disappointing that she is leaving this role, I have no doubt that she will continue to be a key driver in the continuing success of Australian Cricket."
In addition to her national development coaching position, Poulton has also acted as assistant to Sydney Sixers head coach Ben Sawyer in the WBBL for the past two seasons and has therefore maintained strong links to the game in her home state.
"NSW has been very successful in women’s cricket, from pathways through to the Breakers, however we are aware that the level of cricket has improved significantly across the country," Cricket NSW Chief Executive Officer Lee Germon said today.
"Leah, with her experience and exceptional skill set, will inspire and drive a high-performing culture that helps us deliver successful, respected and inspiring New South Wales players and teams, including our Sixers and Thunder WBBL sides.
"With her unique mix of pathway development and high-performance success, Leah will provide leadership that is imperative to enable us to continue to develop outstanding young cricketers who become great NSW and Australian players."