WITH the new season just around the corner, it promises to be an exciting summer for Ottery St Mary head coach, Trevor Griffin, writes Ian Townsend.
In addition to his duties at Salston Field, the former Whimple and Ottery wicketkeeper-batsman has recently gained experience of coaching in the first class game with Canterbury Cricket in New Zealand and the county set-ups at Hampshire and Somerset.
Having originally cut his teeth by coaching the Devon U-17s girls' XI, Griffin’s subsequent track record in the rapidly developing women’s game last autumn saw him appointed head coach to the Western Storm team for the coming campaign.
Western Storm, skippered by Devon’s Heather Knight who also captains England Women, are a franchise team representing Devon, Somerset, Gloucestershire and the University of Exeter.
Reflecting on a whirlwind period, Griffin said: “Last year I was appointed as an assistant coach and performance analyst to the Western Storm who compete in the T20 Kia Super League.
“This takes the best female cricketers in the country, along with 18 overseas international players, and produces six teams for a competition which really does see the best compete against the best.
“Last season we had Heather Knight, the England captain, as our skipper, Anya Shrubsole, the world’s best T20 bowIer, and West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor in the squad, and I’m delighted they have all resigned for this year along with New Zealand’s wicket keeper, Rachel Priest - it’s an exciting set up.
“We were runners-up last year so we’ll be looking to go one better this time round in what will be a huge year for Women’s cricket.”
The close season has been a hectic one for Griffin after he successfully approached Canterbury Cricket in 2015 with the aim of broadening his coaching experience in different conditions.
“My first trip was a huge learning curve, and I was delighted to be invited back last winter as their specialist wicket keeping coach” he explained. “I worked closely with their first class keeper who’s since been selected for the New Zealand A squad; I was also asked to oversee their women’s under-21 programme and take those players to a national tournament, and spent some time working with the White Ferns, New Zealand’s Women’s International squad”.
Griffin also worked with a number of high-profile players including New Zealand internationals Matt Henry, Henry Nicholls and Tom Latham, and Australian Test stars Shane Watson and Mike Hussey.
He also coached some of the stars of the female game such as Amy Satterthwaite, who recently became the first woman to score four consecutive centuries in international cricket, and tearaway fast bowler, Lea Tahuhu.
Whilst in New Zealand a chance meeting with former Devon batsman and current Hampshire Director of Cricket, Giles White resulted in an invitation to the Ageas Bowl to work with their 1st XI.
Contact with Somerset coach Jason Kerr has recently seen Griffin working at their Taunton headquarters.
His profile in the women’s game has also continued to grow via visits to Loughborough to liaise with England head coach, Mark Robinson and his assistants.
Griffin appears to have been far from daunted by the transition from coaching amateurs in the Devon League to working with established internationals.
“On my first day in New Zealand I was a little star struck,” he said. “Within a couple of days I really settled in – they’ve got a job to do, they are focused on what they’re doing and were great to work with.
“I haven’t come across anyone who hasn’t been friendly or welcoming, their coaching staff were terrific as well - I’ve learned a huge amount from them.”
However, having broadened his horizons in such impressive fashion the former Otters’ keeper has no intention of turning his back on duties closer to home.
In addition to continuing his role as head coach of the highly successful University of Exeter women’s side, Griffin will once again be overseeing matters at Ottery CC.
“I’m not one for forgetting my roots,” he explained. “Being able to give something back to local clubs is important to me, I owe a lot to Devon Cricket, and continuing to help where I can is important.
“I still have lots to learn to be the best coach I can, and it’s a huge honour to head-up the Western Storm after many years of hard work, I’m very grateful for the support I’ve had.”
Griffin anticipates a challenging season for the Otters, particularly with the loss of a number of key players from the side, which stormed to the Devon League C Division title in 2015 and last year competed so well in their debut season in B Division.
That process continued with the recent departure of 18-year-old star all-rounder Billy Rudolph to Premier Division Exmouth.
“Nowadays many clubs have issues with player numbers and availability” said Griffin.
“The successful ones tend to have consistency in selection which showed with the Ottery side which was promoted a couple of years ago.
“The departures we’ve had are an opportunity for other youngsters to step up so it’ll be an interesting year for the club.”