Australia great Alex Blackwell hopes to bring her trademark inventiveness and resilience to her first head coaching role since retiring from international cricket earlier this year.
Blackwell is currently in the United Kingdom with Lancashire Thunder and her coaching career will begin in earnest on Sunday when the third edition of the 20-over Super League competition gets underway.
It’s a new challenge for Blackwell, who captained Australia, New South Wales and Sydney Thunder throughout her 17-year career in elite cricket before announcing her international and state retirement in February.
"I only have five days with my squad before we start playing so there’s some pros and cons around coaching for such a short period of time, but I’m really looking forward to giving it my best," Blackwell told cricket.com.au.
"I know I’ve got a lot to offer given all the experience I’ve had, especially as a captain for many years and leading Sydney Thunder to the inaugural WBBL title.
"There’s also my experiences captaining Australia to the World T20 victory in 2010, so I’ve got an understanding of what it takes to win tournaments."
At her disposal is a strong squad of local and international talent, including Australia ODI opener Nicole Bolton, India star Harmanpreet Kaur and New Zealand’s Amy Satterthwaite.
The local contingent includes England spinners Danielle Hazell, Sophie Ecclestone and Alex Hartley alongside quick Kate Cross.
“We’ve got a squad at Lancashire who can really challenge and there’s no reason why we can’t be one of the best performing teams in the tournament,” she said.
"We’ve got a bowling line-up made up of three of England’s best spinners and one of England’s best pace bowlers in Kate Cross.
"So I’m looking forward to seeing them in action. Kate Cross really burst onto the international scene with a strong performance in an Ashes Test at the WACA in 2013.
"She’s someone who I definitely found challenging to face in my time so it’s nice to be on the other side of it."
Blackwell is also looking forward to working with former national teammate Bolton, who is appearing in the Super League for the first time.
"As a former Australia teammate of Nicole’s, I understand how she operates in a team and I have witnessed her game evolve to become a world class performer across all three formats," Blackwell told the Lancashire website following Bolton's signing.
"To work with Nicole this time in a coaching capacity will be very enjoyable and I know she has a lot to offer our team."
Throughout her 15-year international career, Blackwell built a reputation for her ability to constantly reinvent herself to keep up with the evolving game, and for finding new ways to improve.
It’s those characteristics she hopes to bring out in her 15-player Lancashire squad.
"I’m all about getting the best of out of the players,” she said. “I’d like to challenge even the most experienced players to find new ways to get better and to find extra elements of enjoyment in the game, as well.
"It’s something I think I did well towards the end of my career, I found an extra 10 to 20 per cent in the way I approached my power hitting – it’s interesting how you can always find that bit more.
"So I’ll be challenging them to see where else in their game they can expand and refine their strengths."
Blackwell will return home following the end of the Super League season in late August to prepare for this summer’s Rebel WBBL, where she’ll be returning to the role of player and captain of Sydney Thunder.
With that in mind, she’s not looking too far ahead when it comes to other coaching opportunities, eager instead to again get the most out of her own game in WBBL|04, and help the Thunder maintain their strong record in the competition, where they have one title and a semi-final appearance from the three seasons to date.
"I’m just taking the opportunities as they come at the moment,” she said. "It’s a period of change in my life having retired after 15 years in the Australian team, so I’m not really looking too far ahead.
"I’m just trying to lap up every opportunity presenting itself and doing my very best in those roles to experience them fully and see if I do enjoy it.
"I suspect I will enjoy being the head coach of Lancashire. But I’m still playing and I want this fourth BBL to be my best yet."
Commonwealth Bank T20I series v NZ
September 29: First T20I, North Sydney Oval, Sydney
October 1: Second T20I, Allan Border Field, Brisbane
October 5: Third T20I, Manuka Oval, Canberra
Commonwealth Bank ODI series v NZ
February 22: First ODI, WACA Ground, Perth
February 24: Second ODI, Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide
March 3: Third ODI, Junction Oval, Melbourne