Keightley takes over as women’s mentor
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.