Keightley takes over as women’s men­tor

The West Australian - - SPORT | CRICKET - John Townsend

The WACA have mir­rored the Fre­man­tle Dock­ers by sack­ing an ex­ist­ing coach to in­stall a high-pro­file re­place­ment.

For­mer Aus­tralian star Lisa Keightley, the first woman to coach a se­nior Aus­tralian team, was last night ap­pointed coach of the women’s Scorchers fol­low­ing the shock sack­ing of Mark Atkinson.

Atkinson, 46, who was the Tas­ma­nian wicket-keeper in the 1990s, was ap­pointed to the Fury and Scorchers jobs in May.

He was sacked with­out warn­ing on Mon­day.

The WACA re­fused to clar­ify why Atkinson was sacked.

“It would not be ap­pro­pri­ate to talk about it,” high per­for­mance man­ager Ben Oliver said.

Fury cap­tain Ni­cole Bolton and other play­ers were shocked at the de­ci­sion.

It is un­der­stood there were no off-field is­sues re­lated to the de­ci­sion to sack him.

It is the sec­ond dra­matic sack­ing at the WACA in two years af­ter cu­ra­tor Cam Suther­land was fired in 2013.

Keightley joined the WACA in Oc­to­ber af­ter hav­ing the po­si­tion of women’s tal­ent man­ager cre­ated for her fol­low­ing her de­par­ture from her pre­vi­ous job as Eng­land acad­emy coach.

She was also an as­sis­tant to Atkinson, who re­vamped the Fury team that came sixth in the na­tional cham­pi­onships this sea­son.

But his at­tempt to in­crease player fit­ness lev­els was un­der­stood to have met sig­nif­i­cant re­sis­tance.

Oliver said the WACA was for­tu­nate to have Keightley avail­able as women’s cricket pre­pared for the in­au­gu­ral women’s Big Bash League.

“The women’s pro­gram will un­doubt­edly ben­e­fit from her knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence,” Oliver said.

“This is an ex­cit­ing time with un­prece­dented op­por­tu­ni­ties for cur­rent play­ers to in­spire the next gen­er­a­tion of fe­male par­tic­i­pants and fans.

“Lisa’s ex­per­tise in fe­male path­way and player de­vel­op­ment will be in­valu­able as we con­tinue to build on our cur­rent foun­da­tions.”

Keightley’s for­mer Test op­po­nent, Eng­land vet­eran Char­lotte Ed­wards, will play for the Scorchers this sea­son.

Oliver lauded Atkinson’s skills when he was ap­pointed six months ago.

Atkinson de­clined to com­ment yes­ter­day.

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