For many years, Joanne Broadbent formed a part of arguably the most dominant batting line-up in the history of women’s cricket. Now, she’s head coach at the NSW Breakers, in charge of some of the best talent the female game has to offer.
One of those talents, Ellyse Perry, lines up for the Loughborough Lightning against the Western Storm in the Kia Super League later this evening. Ahead of that clash, Joanne Broadbent spoke to Mind the Windows to answer some questions about her career, both playing and coaching.
Q1 — I want to start off with the 1998 Ashes. With the likes of Belinda Clark, Karen Rolton, Lisa Keightley and yourself — not to mention the arrival of Mel Jones — it reads, on paper, like a golden era for Australian batting. What was it like playing in that side, alongside so many great talents?
It was an amazing experience to play alongside so many skilful and self-driven athletes. We might not have played as much as the current players, but our training hours would be very similar. There was certainly a confidence in our era [with] everyone wanting to contribute if given a chance. Great leaders and players who wanted to do their best and loved to win.
Q2 — You retired in 2001 to take up a coaching and development role. What moved you towards taking that role, towards the life after playing?
I was approached by Queensland Cricket and it seemed like the right time and a great opportunity. Queensland offered a lot of great roles over my 12 years with them. Coaching players, managing a region and overseeing the female pathway.
Q3 — Coming back to play after a season out of the game, and while continuing to work in coaching/development, must have been a challenge. Firstly, what drove that move? And secondly, what were the challenges facing you, as you were reaching the end of your playing career and transitioning off the field? Is it hard for experienced heads to stay in the game?
I saw a lot of young talent and a lack of leadership in Queensland and felt I still had something to offer on and off the field. It was difficult to juggle work and playing however I had experienced this when working with the SA Cricket Association and playing for Australia. Plenty of challenges to get in peak form with skills and fitness.
Q4 — You played 10 Tests (out of a possible 12) across eight years, only batted in eight innings and were only dismissed four times to end up with the remarkable, better-than-Bradman average of 109.25. Meanwhile, Australia’s male side played 86 matches. What do you make of the lack of Women’s Test cricket?
There is no doubt we are playing less and less Test cricket in the women’s game. Mainly due to the shorter formats being marketable and on TV. Funding always plays a part in these decisions too. Money [can be] better spent in the T20 format to promote the game so young kids can see women role models.
Q5 — You were the first person to make a double century in women’s Test cricket. How much does that record mean to you? And given that the women’s game, at least at domestic level, is built on a diet of limited overs cricket, how tough is it to adapt to batting for extended periods of time?
Whilst I would prefer to win games of cricket than break records it was very unexpected and exciting at the same time. I had some great coaches who challenged and improved my game so very thankful for their input. Players need to hit lots of balls [during the] preseason and in season to be able to bat for long periods. Fitness and being able to concentrate for long periods is also required and something I worked on in the gym, nets and playing in all games.
Q6 — Given now the head coach of the NSW Breakers, how have high performance structures changed from your playing career to now?
Definitely more coaches and support around the structure. We currently have a head coach, an assistant coach, specialist coaches (pace bowling, spin bowling, wicketkeeping, batting), a physiotherapist, a strength and conditioning coach, a player development manager, a nutritionist, a psychologist, a doctor, and administrators. In the 90’s a lot of state teams had a part-time head coach, a team manager and a physiotherapist if we were lucky. Obviously more funding creates more roles and therefore higher expectations on athletes to perform at a higher standard. We are playing on the top grounds more often and training facilities have improved.