AFL coach Guy McKenna takes up cricket role with Victoria

Guy McKenna, the former senior coach of the AFL club Gold Coast, is set to take cricket’s side in the war for Australian sporting talent after signing as a coaching and talent identification specialist for Victoria.

As inaugural coach of the Gold Coast Suns, McKenna was in charge for 88 games, winning 24 – a record that compared favourably to the fellow expansion club Greater Western Sydney Giants over the same period – and since his 2014 departure has worked as an assistant at Essendon alongside his former West Coast captain, John Worsfold. McKenna played 267 games for the Eagles, including premierships in 1992 and 1994 and multiple selections in the league’s team of the year.

His appointment is part of a newly-expanded coaching and talent identification unit for Australia’s second-largest state, which has long been seen as an underachiever in terms of providing top-class players for the national team. This has been largely attributed to the AFL’s stranglehold on much of the state’s best young sporting talent.

That state of affairs was underlined by the debate earlier this year over whether or not Will Sutherland, Australia Under-19s captain and son of the Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland, would choose cricket or football. After being courted by numerous AFL talent scouts, Sutherland ultimately went with cricket after Victoria offered him a multi-year rookie deal, but he is very much an exception to the rule.

“There are lots of reasons for my interest in this role. I’ve spent more than 30 years in AFL at all levels and I’m ready for the change and new challenge this role provides,” McKenna said. “Cricket dominates the summer landscape. Hopefully, I can bring some of my experience as both a senior coach and a player into cricket and use that knowledge to help identify, manage and deliver the next generation of Victorian and hopefully Australian cricketers.

“I’ll have plenty of good people around me in the department who know cricket inside out.”

Other members of the department in which McKenna will work include the former Bushrangers opening batsman and Footscray Premier cricketer Dean Russ, and also the former Australian player and more recently senior coach Cathryn Fitzpatrick. Victoria’s cricket operations manager Shaun Graf said the state had been looking for a wide skill-base.

“We’ve been able to assemble an impressive list of people who collectively bring a broad range of skills to the table,” he said. “Cathryn’s reputation in cricket needs no introduction and Guy brings a unique perspective on athlete management and finding the right attributes for success.

“This group will play a key role out in the field, looking at what we can do better with emerging players and ensuring we have the best systems and structures in place to ensure Victoria continues to produce players in the national pathway.”

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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