Lehmann ‘excited’ to return to Headingley to coach in The Hundred
Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann and England World Cup winner Danielle Hazell have signed up as head coaches of the Leeds-based teams in next year’s inaugural edition of The Hundred.
The news marks a return to Headingley for Lehmann, who is arguably the most beloved overseas player in Yorkshire’s history, while Hazell’s appointment to the women’s team makes her the new competition’s first English appointee.
Rumoured to be called ‘Northern Superchargers’, the franchise will represent Yorkshire and Durham in the eight-team tournament.
Lehmann resigned from his job with Australia in the aftermath of the 2018 ball-tampering scandal and, having already agreed to take over at Brisbane Heat in this year’s Big Bash League, is delighted to continue his comeback on familiar stomping ground.
“It’s great to be back. I hoped I’d get the chance when I heard about it and I’m so excited the opportunity came along,” Lehmann told PA.
“It was a great experience of my career to play here, where the passion for the game is second to none. The connection is strong, I have so many family and friends around and I was lucky enough to be involved in ending Yorkshire’s long wait for a county championship win in 2001.”
Lehmann is also looking forward to experiencing a new spin on cricket and believes the 100-ball concept may end up on the international calendar if it proves a hit with English fans.
“It’s an interesting format, family friendly, and it’s about trying to get different people back into the game,” he said. “A state-based franchise did the same thing in Australia but people worried about the Big Bash and about World Series Cricket too.
“If we make a success of it then it probably will be played internationally. I think at different times we’ll see it in different nations and I can see it going ahead if that’s what the countries want.
“It will be explosive, I think we’ll see new innovations and players going pretty hard from the start. As a coach I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out.”
Of the five men’s coaches to be announced, four are Australian, Lehmann going up against compatriots Shane Warne, Simon Katich and Andrew McDonald as well as South African Gary Kirsten, but the 49-year-old intends to promote up-and-coming homegrown candidates to work alongside him.
“You’d be mad not to try and help young English coaches and work closely with them,” he said.
“I’d certainly like to get people from the county system involved and work closely with them, you’re always learning as a coach so I can learn from them and vice-versa.”
Australia’s Test side make their own long-awaited return to Headingley for the first Ashes Test this week, but Lehmann has no regrets about moving on even as the protagonists in the sandpaper conspiracy – David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft – continue their international careers.
“Not at all, I probably carried on too long to be fair. International cricket is seriously hard work and I did it for five years,” he said.
“I’m just looking forward to watching them play. The game has moved on and people have got to move on as well, I’m glad those guys are playing their part in a great contest between Australia and England. It’s been an enthralling series and it’s great to see it continue at Headingley.”
Hazell currently coaches Yorkshire Diamonds in the Kia Super League having retired from playing last November.
She added: “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.
“After spending my career travelling around the world it is great to be back in the north and putting something back into the region and the game.”