New head coach ready to enact Farbrace vision of success built around local core
As a “superstitious coach” at Sussex, Mark Robinson “tried everything” at times to beat Warwickshire. Now, as new head coach, Robinson is determined to turn the Bears back into that formidable force.
As reported by ESPNcricinfo on Thursday, Robinson has been confirmed as Warwickshire head coach, having previously guided England to victory at the 2017 Women’s World Cup. Before that, he had coached Sussex from 2005-15, winning back-to-back County Championships in 2006 and 2007, as well as the T20 Cup, Friends Provident Trophy and Pro40 League (twice).
His time at Sussex coincided with a low ebb for Warwickshire – they were relegated from the Championship and Pro40 League in 2007 – but also a time of resurgence after Ashley Giles took over as director of cricket in 2008. They returned to the top flight at the end of that season, going on to win the title in 2012.
“Warwickshire kept beating us, to be fair,” Robinson told reporters via Zoom on Friday. “We didn’t have a great record here. I tried everything, as a superstitious coach, to try and get a win at Edgbaston. I kept changing hotels, banning certain members of staff from coming because they came last time we lost.
“We’ve got to get back to Warwickshire being that very, very resilient team, which was my experience of them. Whenever you came to Edgbaston it was a hard place to play, players did some of the hard yards and you could never really feel you could put them down. They would always seem to come back at you.”
Robinson replaces Jim Troughton, who was sacked as Warwickshire coach after going winless in their Bob Willis Trophy campaign of 2020, when they also missed out on the quarter-finals of the T20 Blast.
Robinson believes his vast experience stands him in good stead to return Warwickshire to winning ways.
“I’ve now been in the men’s game for 35 years, I did four years with the girls as well,” said Robinson. “The little bit of time out, it’s been really good for me. I’ve been around lots of different organisations, I worked with the England deaf team, which was fascinating.
“Every year, we all start equal don’t we, at the beginning of the season, so your goals are to win, to win matches and to win tournaments, to win competitions and win leagues, that has to be the same… you’ve got to start with that ambition and it will be no different here.”
Paul Farbrace, Warwickshire’s director of sport since the start of the 2019 season, saw Robinson’s appointment as another pillar upon which to build a new era of success, based on fostering local talent, developing players for the England system, and winning.
Particularly pleasing for Farbrace were the prospects of Academy products Rob Yates, who enjoyed an excellent maiden Championship season in 2019, and Dan Mousley, England’s leading run-scorer at the Under-19 World Cup a year ago.
“It’s great to hear Mark talking about winning,” Farbrace said. “I want to talk about us as a sporting team winning and that’s what we expect and that’s what we should be about.
“We’ve got a very keen, hungry, enthusiastic group of players who want to achieve, we’ve got a lot of players on the fringe of England honours, England Lions, and that’s great to have, but it’s also about getting the team that actually pulls together and wins trophies.”
Sarah Taylor this week credited Robinson with sensitively handling her battle with anxiety, ensuring mental health was openly discussed within the England Women’s squad.
He ultimately lost his job as head coach after England Women were overwhelmed by Australia in the 2019 Ashes series. The Warwickshire role is the highest-profile position he has held since.
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo