Richard Dawson knows what it’s like to tour Australia with England. The Gloucestershire Head Coach played four of the five matches on the 2002/03 Ashes tour, replacing the injured Ashley Giles.
The final match of that tour saw Dawson become a founding member of a relatively small group of 24 England players who have won a Test in Australia since the turn of the Millennium.
Dawson’s victory in Sydney and the three wins on the victorious 2010/11 campaign are the only four the Three Lions have registered in Test matches Down Under since 2000.
Now, Dawson is leading the England Lions tour of Australia, where one of the aims is teach our best young players how to win in the challenging conditions the country can throw at you.
“There’s two things I’m looking for on the tour – individual performances and collective performances,” he said before the team departed for Australia.
“The squad has people with different levels of experience. Some have done Lions tours before, for some this will be their first. Some will be starting out in [first-class] cricket and others will have played a lot.
“We’ve got a coaching staff in place to support every one of them. The actual development of the players is based individually with the collective goal of putting the performances in to be successful as a team.
“We’ve had a little preparation time before the white-ball games to do that individual work but also to build the cohesion to come together on the pitch as a team. From a coaching point of view, everyone is on a different path."
It’s not just a learning experience for the players, but also the coaches. This winter the Lions will be working with skills coaches from around the county scene, as well as regular England coaches Carl Hopkinson and Bruce French.
Batting coach Jonathan Trott played a key role in England’s Ashes victory in 2010/11, scoring 445 runs at an average of almost 90 from seven innings.
Somerset Head Coach Jason Kerr will work with the seamers, who will also be able to draw on the local knowledge of Kerr’s Sussex counterpart Jason Gillespie for a 10-day stint in the middle of the tour.
Dawson has won many plaudits as he guided Gloucestershire to promotion to Division One of the Specsavers County Championship last season and led a Lions spin bowling camp to India in 2019.
“I’m enjoying what I’m doing at Gloucestershire and this opportunity is amazing for me to learn new things,” he said.
“I was in Mumbai before Christmas where I learned a hell of a lot. Rangana Herath was there for six days and it was fascinating listening to the stuff he was doing. Even just sitting with the lads and getting conversations going with the players opens your eyes to new things.”
The Lions start their tour with five 50-over matches, starting against a Cricket Australia XI at the Metricon, Gold Coast, on Sunday 2 February.