YORKSHIRE legend Darren Lehmann believes that the controversial new 100-ball competition is a risk worth taking after he was confirmed as coach of the Headingley franchise.
Lehmann will take charge of the team provisionally known as Northern Superchargers in the tournament that starts next summer, with Yorkshire Diamonds head coach Danielle Hazell to take control of the Headingley women’s franchise.
At the end of the day, you’ve got to make the game grow, and the ECB have obviously done their numbers and all their research and you’ve got to get women and kids coming to games and grow the game for boys and girls.Darren Lehmann on The Hundred
Lehmann, the greatest overseas player in Yorkshire’s history, understands the furore surrounding the concept, which is being introduced by the England and Wales Cricket Board in an effort to broaden the game’s appeal.
Some 90 per cent of existing fans are said to be against the idea of a fourth format, but Lehmann, the former Australia coach and current coach of Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League, believes it will be beneficial for the sport.
Speaking exclusively to The Yorkshire Post, Lehmann said: “I think it’s worth the risk and you’ve just got to see how it ends up.
“Only time will tell, but you’re going to have the best players from around the world playing, along with England players in parts of it as well, and I think it’s going to be a success.
“There was controversy in the BBL (Big Bash League) when it changed from state-based to franchise-based, and then it just went through the roof.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to make the game grow, and the ECB have obviously done their numbers and all their research and you’ve got to get women and kids coming to games and grow the game for boys and girls.”
Lehmann, who scored 8,871 runs in 88 first-class matches for Yorkshire between 1997 and 2006, will take charge of a franchise that will see Yorkshire CCC and Durham CCC join forces.
He said that it was his intention to have Yorkshire first-team coach Andrew Gale and Durham counterpart James Franklin involved in some capacity in his coaching set-up, but it would all depend on availability.
“We will try and mix-and-match it a little bit,” he said. “I’ve got a meeting this week to work through those issues, but availability is going to be key.
“You want to be looking after and developing the coaches from England, so, for me, Gale will hopefully be involved somehow. I’ll just have to work that out with those in charge of the franchise.”
Lehmann, 49, is the latest foreign coach to be snapped up for The Hundred, with English coaches having so far been widely overlooked. Fellow Australians Shane Warne, Simon Katich and Andrew McDonald have been hired for the Lord’s, Old Trafford and Edgbaston franchises, while the South African Gary Kirsten will take charge at Cardiff.
In addition, Australians Matthew Mott and Lisa Keightley have taken on the equivalent head coach roles for the women’s sides at Cardiff and Lord’s.
It is expected that Australian Tom Moody will coach The Oval franchise, with New Zealander Stephen Fleming and Sri Lankan Mahela Jaywardene favourites for the respective positions at Trent Bridge and the Ageas Bowl.
Commenting on the lack of English coaches, Lehmann said: “It’s not their fault, obviously. But the thing with English coaches is that they’re all coaching county cricket, a lot of them, so they haven’t got the time to do both as it were.
“For my part, it fits in really well because I don’t want to go back to the stage where I’m travelling the whole year round doing coaching.
“I want to pick and choose these days, and The Hundred and the Heat will probably take up six months of the year, while I’m also really enjoying doing media work, which keeps me busy.”
Lehmann will be back in Yorkshire this week for the third Ashes Test before returning to Australia. He will then come back to England for the player draft for The Hundred on October 20.
“I certainly want there to be a real northern feel about the side,” he said. “I think they’ve said Northern Superchargers will be the name, so I’ll be looking at the prime players from Yorkshire and Durham to start with, and then you’ve just got to get lucky as well with the draft.
“The Australian players will already be over there (in England) next year, so that’s also a bonus.
“You’d like to work with a lot of northern blokes and Aussies if possible, but there’s some pretty good players worldwide that you’d like as well – the likes of Rashid Khan and AB de Villiers, for example.”
The men’s and women’s 100-ball competitions will run concurrently during a five-week period in July/August.
Commenting on her appointment, Hazell, 31, said: “Things have happened pretty quickly in my coaching career, but you have to take the bull by the horns and enjoy the opportunities that come your way and make the most of them.
“It’s exciting to be involved in a massive step forward for women’s domestic cricket.”