Shaw bitten by Thunder project
Paul Shaw sits down ahead of his first full summer as the permanent Head Coach of Thunder
The definition of the word Thunderstruck; to be extremely surprised or shocked. It is therefore particularly apt to suggest head coach Paul Shaw has indeed been ‘North West’ Thunderstruck.
Shaw, the former England women’s coach, was appointed on a short-term deal to lead the Thunder in last summer’s Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.
A Yorkshireman with a number of business interests, he works in leadership development in both company and sporting life and also does some wicketkeeping consultancy work with the White Rose men.
So, by his own admission, a full-time coaching role at Emirates Old Trafford was not his initial intention. Thankfully, however, things change.
“My initial intention was to only come in for a short period of time,” he confirmed. “To see the team through the season and to start putting some foundations in place.
“But the longer the summer went on, the more I got to know the girls and also the North West, I was bitten by the project. It pulled me in. So I was delighted to take on the role in November in pretty much a full-time capacity.”
The Thunder won two of six games in last summer’s RHF Trophy, losing the other four.
This summer’s RHF Trophy begins on May 29 and will be supplemented by a regional T20 competition beginning a month later.
“We have a young squad,” said Shaw. “I think the average age is 21 or 21.5. Compare that to someone like the Northern Diamonds, they have an average age of around 27-28.
“It represents a challenge, but it also represents lots of potential.
“If we can push on in the next couple of years and keep building on those foundations, then I see no reason why we can’t challenge strongly.
“Our aim for this season is for us to be as competitive as we can possibly be. Let’s be in the fight and see where we can get to.”
Shaw is almost the perfect appointment for an emerging squad getting used to a brand new professional era of women’s cricket in this country.
In the last decade, Shaw helped to smooth the way for England’s women to turn from amateur to professional. So he has very much been there and done it.
The Thunder have five full-time contracted players in Georgie Boyce, Alex Hartley, Emma Lamb, Ellie Threlkeld and Hannah Jones.
“There’s no doubt it is different,” said Shaw. “I experienced it some years ago - 2013/14 - with the England squad when we managed that transition from amateur to professional full-time contracts.
“All of a sudden the players do feel that weight of expectation of being contracted. What we are trying to do is normalise that for them, ‘It’s just the life of a professional cricketer’, and work with them to give them the best chance of turning potential into performance.
“But it’s not just about performance, it’s about those professional and positive behaviours that you want around the whole environment.
“They need to be role models for the other 10 or 11 players we have in the squad.
“There’s a responsibility on the five contracted to pave the way for the rest, and hopefully we get some more contracts to award further down the line.
“What is really pleasing is that they are working hard and demonstrating those behaviours. And it is rubbing off on the other girls, who have been very keen to come in and train with us three times a week at Emirates Old Trafford despite not getting paid.”
Shaw’s head coaching role will see him not only work with the Thunder, but also Lancashire’s county team and the Manchester Originals in the inaugural Hundred competition.
“It’s been a busy winter, and it will be a busy summer!” he laughed. “But I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in. To be back playing, coaching and watching cricket is what we’ve all been craving.”