No matter the outcome of this year’s Sheffield Shield final at Bellerive Oval, Tasmania will be feeling a sense of loss at the match’s conclusion.
After eight seasons at the helm the Tigers’ most successful coach by some margin, Tim Coyle, is vacating the position. Under his leadership the Tigers have enjoyed a golden era and become a cricketing force to be reckoned with.
When Coyle took over from Brian McFadyen in 2005, success was very much a rarity for Australian cricket’s smallest first-class participant.
The Tigers had won only their second domestic title the previous summer, 25 years after the first. For the team, just making the final of the one-day competition or the Sheffield Shield had a certain novelty factor, but that all changed under Coyle.
The pint-sized and passionate former state wicket-keeper established an enviable record: the Tigers have reached eight finals during his tenure and have won four trophies, with the chance to claim a fifth in coming days.
Among these triumphs, Coyle helped deliver a much coveted maiden first-class title in 2006/07, a defining moment in Tasmanian cricket history that took three decades to achieve.
The other measure of a state coach’s success is the elevation of his players to the national team and again Coyle’s record here is outstanding.
When I was a kid growing up in Tasmania, David Boon and a young Ricky Ponting were my cricketing heroes.
It was special to watch a player from my state performing with distinction on the international stage when very few had done so. Today’s Tasmanian youngsters have a host of potential heroes to pick from with Apple Islanders ascending to the national ranks on a regular basis.
This season, five Tasmanian-born players joined Ponting in representing Australia in Test or one-day cricket: George Bailey, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Faulkner and Matthew Wade.
The Tasmanian cricket system has also given rise to New South Wales natives Ed Cowan and Jackson Bird.
Tim Paine and Jason Krejza have been part of the Australian team during Coyle’s tenure and his assistant coaches, too, have kicked on, with Ali de Winter now the national bowling coach and Michael Di Venuto, the national batting coach.
Surely this is more than coincidence.
Attention to detail
With such a compelling resume, it is difficult to understand why Coyle himself has never gone on to higher honours.
Some would argue that he only played seven first-class matches and lacks the necessary profile, yet that only makes his achievements at the domestic level all the more impressive.
His likely replacement as Tasmania coach, former Tigers’ captain Dan Marsh, believes Coyle has shown he is capable of coaching at the international level.
“If you are looking at state coaches around the place he is certainly the most credentialed and if he wanted to have a crack at that I am sure whenever Mickey Arthur either decides not to go on or is replaced, Tim would be a good bloke to have a look at,” he said.
“Obviously Darren Lehmann is doing a great job in Queensland as well so there are some good coaches out there but Tim’s performances are second to none really.”
Marsh says Coyle’s attention to detail and passion are the key planks in his coaching success.
“The preparation phase of every game, he’s all over that,” he said.
“Also, just his passion for Tasmanian cricket in general. I think those are the two things that really stand out to me. He really is a great competitor and wants Tasmania to win every fixture they play in.
“When he first came into the job everyone noticed how competitive and passionate he was about Tasmania and Tasmanian cricket.”
With its burgeoning trophy cabinet and its reputation cemented as a producer of top-class players, Cricket Tasmania must feel fortunate to have had Coyle’s services, particularly when you consider he was not the first choice for the position.
Only a Cricket Australia policy preventing national selectors from being state coaches denied Boon the role.
On the day Coyle’s appointment was announced, the then-Tasmanian Cricket Association chairman, Brent Palfreyman admitted – perhaps regrettably – that Boon was the preferred option.
“We would have liked David to be appointed as the coach, it didn’t work out that way,” he said.
In the end, it would seem that things have worked out pretty well.
Regardless of the outcome of this year’s Shield final, Tim Coyle will have left an indelible mark on Tasmanian cricket, but perhaps a few small finger prints on another trophy would be fitting. Read story