By Rod Gilmour
Danny Kerry was plotting Great Britain’s path towards Tokyo 2020 on a spreadsheet in his hotel room just hours after their Rio 2016 gold.
A heart attack last summer then forced a different outlook for the Olympic-winning coach. Following bronze against India on Saturday, Kerry was out on “the world’s longest bike ride” down the Gold Coast the morning after.
Yet his day of “head space” on a hire bike was primarily to overcome the less-than-ideal build up to England women’s Commonwealth campaign, which ended with a podium finish for a GB or England women’s team for a 10th successive year at a global tournament. There are, however, pressing concerns over England’s corner routines ahead of the Vitality women’s World Cup.
He told THP: “We had a difficult run-in to this with concussions and broken bones, so having to tell people you are no longer going was a stressful time.”
Coupled with this, England endured injuries to captain Alex Danson and Sarah Haycroft with ankle complications before their first match.
There was concern over whether they would even return home before, admitted Kerry, judgement calls were made for the pair to stay with the squad.
“That created added anxiety and pressure within the group, along with four matches in five days, which was an enormous workload for the coaches,” added Kerry.
Asked for his overall assessment on England’s performance, he said: “We played okay, very well in the semi-final and we had to make sure we had to regroup [for India].”
Kerry added that he was “delighted” with the performance against eventual champions New Zealand in the semi-final given the relative inexperience in the squad.
He said: “We were nervy and edgy against India before we cut loose. I was really pleased with the second-half performance.”
Ahead of a World Cup which will see Argentina and the Netherlands return to the global stage, England will have to figure out a significant problem area: the penalty corner.
Before Hollie Pearne-Webb scored the short corner opener against India in the bronze medal match, England hadn’t scored in three games and 25 attempts when presented with corner chances.
In all, England recorded four penalty corner goals in 45 attempts – excluding three penalty stroke misses during the Malaysia game – a statistic which Kerry highlighted as “way below where we need them to be”.
He added: “We put a lot of time back in at Bisham with lots of discussion. But they are just not firing and it’s our job to solve it.”