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“Our Job Is To Win Games Of Cricket”- Jon Lewis Ahead Of The New Zealand Series

In the hallowed corridors of cricketing strategy, Jon Lewis stands as a maestro, orchestrating the symphony of success for both England and the UP Warriorz in the Women’s Premier League.

While replying to Neha Shetty of Women’s CricInsight at the England Press Conference – Jon Lewis, took some time to reflect on the recent campaign of UP Warriorz in the Women’s Premier League and offered insights into his strategies ahead of the upcoming tour to New Zealand.

Speaking about UP Warriorz’s season, Lewis didn’t mince his words about the disappointment of not making it to the finals. “We were really disappointed with where we finished the table, obviously not to qualify for the finals,” he stated. Lewis highlighted missed opportunities, especially in the first game against RCB, where a win could have altered their fate.

“That result probably would have forced them out of the tournament and maybe given us the opportunity to go into the finals and try and win the trophy,” he reflected, highlighting the fine margins that define success in competitive cricket.

Jon Lewis reflected on UP Warriorz's campaign [Image: Getty]
Jon Lewis reflected on UP Warriorz’s campaign [Image: Getty]
He further said, “My reflection on the tournament itself, is that it’s an incredibly hard-fought tournament and the margins are very small. We played some very good cricket at times, but at times we played some pretty sloppy cricket, especially in terms of our fielding and our catching. In terms of our batting, we were okay and probably not quite as good as we were last year. And then in the field, we were poor and that cost us a lot of games. And I think if we’d caught our catches, we’d have probably been top of the table rather than fourth”, he conceded.

However, amidst the setbacks, Lewis found positives, particularly in the performance of Deepti Sharma, who clinched the Player of the Tournament Award. Acknowledging the same, he added.

“From a player that in the previous year played pretty poorly, actually, in terms of her output, was pretty poor. To turn it around, I thought was really cool and really great to see,” Lewis remarked, his pride evident in his voice as he praised Sharma’s resilience and determination.

Deepti Sharma was a notch above the rest in the WPL 2024 [Image: Getty]
Deepti Sharma was a notch above the rest in the WPL 2024 [Image: Getty]
While lauding the performance of the Indian players in the tournament, Lewis said, “I suppose some of the standout performances this year were from Indian players in the tournament, which in the previous season they weren’t. I imagine Indian cricket will be really happy with how that’s moved forward.”

“For me, being there and being in and around the tournament was really interesting to see how our closest opponents in India and Australia are moving and they are moving forward fast. So it gives me a real insight into it. I’m able to bring that insight back into our environment here at the England team and use it to drive our team forward and make sure we’re improving all the time.”

“Sophie’s the best bowler in the world” – Jon Lewis on Sophie Ecclestone

Transitioning from the domestic league to the international arena, Lewis turned his attention to Sophie Ecclestone, lauding her as the epitome of bowling excellence. “Sophie’s the best bowler in the world,” he declared with conviction, his admiration for Ecclestone’s skill evident. He elaborated on her impact on the game, emphasizing her ability to change the course of a match with her bowling prowess.

ALSO READ: WPL 2024: Bowlers, Ellyse Perry Star As RCB Win The Maiden WPL Title Beating Delhi Capitals

Sophie Ecclestone is the 'X Factor' for any team she's a part of [Image: Getty]
Sophie Ecclestone is the ‘X Factor’ for any team she’s a part of [Image: Getty]
“The game changes. When she bowls all the time, it either slows down or it stops or she takes wickets. She’s a fantastic bowler, a really fine bowler, and she’s still only 24. I think she’s played something like 185 T20 games. She’s 24 years old so I think the best is to come from Sophie. She’s starting to understand conditions better and she’s starting to understand how to bowl in different phases of the game better. She’s starting to understand her opponents better as well. I would expect Sophie to keep going from strength to strength. She bowls at a different pace to the rest of the girls. She’s obviously taller than most girls and she’s been incredibly strong, so she’s incredibly accurate. So she’s a fine, fine cricketer,” Jon Lewis noted, emphasizing Ecclestone’s invaluable contribution to the team’s success.

Looking ahead to the upcoming tour of New Zealand, Lewis outlined his strategic approach, emphasizing the importance of nurturing talent and fostering depth within the squad. “It’s more about this early part of this tourism to give players an opportunity and to look at our depth,” he explained and added, “We’ve obviously been really, from my point of view, pretty successful in T20 cricket over the past six to eight months and we’ve got quite a clear strategy of how we play and it’s just whether anyone else on the fringes or just outside the team can force their way into our best eleven or into a squad.”

Reflecting on the resources in the England set-up, he remarked, “Growing depth in our cricket is really important. Our schedule is getting busier and busier. We’re playing more and more cricket and we will pick up more and more injuries. So actually being able to put people in spaces that they’re not normally in and to not be supported by seniority in terms of senior players around them, is a really great opportunity for me to see whether or not these girls can cope with playing at this level”, underscoring his commitment to building a formidable team capable of thriving in diverse conditions.

England would look to go one up versus the White Ferns [Image: Getty]
England would look to go one up versus the White Ferns [Image: Getty]
When queried about the short-term and long-term goals for the England team, Lewis emphasized the dual focus on winning games while ensuring player well-being. “Short-term goals are always really clear. We’re the England cricket team. Our job is to win games of cricket,” Jon Lewis asserted, emphasizing the team’s competitive spirit.

He also highlighted the looming World Cup and the subsequent series and said, “Longer term, we are in a World Cup year, so we need to work out our best eleven to play in the conditions in Bangladesh and then we have an Ashes series off the back of that as well, and a series in South Africa. So we’ve got a very busy time, so I’ve got to manage player scheduling and player workload. I think that’s really important to make sure that we’re peaking at the right time with the right people,” outlining the meticulous planning required to navigate through the demanding schedule successfully.

Addressing concerns about player workload in the era of burgeoning franchise cricket, Lewis reiterated the team’s commitment to managing player fatigue effectively.

“We try and manage our players as best we can. It is important that we look after the well-being of our players as a priority. And we’ve got a lot of cricket coming up this year and we will manage players as appropriately as we feel on an individual, day-by-day basis,” he reassured, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing player well-being amidst the relentless demands of the modern game.

As the England Team braces itself for the challenges ahead, Jon Lewis’s insightful reflections and meticulous planning underscore the team’s unwavering commitment to excellence. With a blend of seasoned veterans and promising talents, England stands poised to make a resounding impact on the international stage, epitomizing the spirit of resilience and determination that defines the essence of cricket.

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