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Australian women’s team’s assistant coach has benefited from a significant shift in pathways for retired players (Australia)

When news of the ball tampering scandal broke in March, the Australian women’s cricket team were in India completing a breakthrough T20 tri-series win against England. Led by the indefatigable Meg Lanning with the bat and a miserly Megan Schutt with the ball, Australia posted the highest total in a women’s T20 international on the way to their first piece of T20 silverware since August 2015.

Asked about the timing of the feat a couple of weeks ago, Ellyse Perry responded cheekily that the ball-tampering saga may yet prove a “positive” for women’s cricket in terms of promoting the sport. Asked if she agrees with Perry’s optimism, new Australian women’s assistant coach Shelley Nitschke laughs.

“I don’t know if it makes for a good or bad time to promote our game,” she tells Guardian Australia. “While that was going on we were in India winning a pretty important series, but I’m not sure if many heard about it. We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully creating headlines.”

The Indian tour was one of Nitschke’s first assignments with the team, but prior to her official appointment in May. As a player, Nitschke had a formidable international record: as a spinning all-rounder, she took 153 wickets from 122 matches, won ICC women’s cricketer of the year in 2010 and was a four-time recipient of the Belinda Clark award for Australian women’s cricketer of the year.

Coaching, she says, wasn’t always on her radar, but after stepping away from the game, she realised how much she missed being part of the Australian team. “I was pretty keen to have some time away [when I retired],” she says. “But when I did come back, I probably realised how much I liked being around that team environment. Coaching is a way to stay involved at that level.”



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