Mark Robinson is thrilled to be heading home as top man in England women’s cricket.

But there will be something slightly different when he next walks through the gates at Hove to take charge of his team.

England play their first match on home soil since last year’s World Cup final when they host South Africa at the 1st Central County Ground on June 12.

In charge will be Robbo, the former Sussex bowler and coach – but now more formally known as Mark Robinson, OBE.

Watching as much cricket as she can in an admin role will be his fellow Hove resident and former Sussex player, Clare Connor CBE.

Both were recognised in the New Year’s honours list after a momentous year for women’s cricket which saw England captivate the nation by winning the World Cup in a thrilling final against India.

After years and years of chipping away, working hard, spreading the word and inching forward, the women’s game in England became an overnight success.

That was largely down to Robinson’s efforts after a bold decision to take charge after his time at Hove came to an end.

Now, in 2018 and after a drawn Ashes series which was not quite enough to bring the prize home, the challenge for England is simple. Follow that!

Robinson told The Argus: “Being awarded an OBE was the last thing on my mind.

“It has been a monumental year for women’s sport, full stop.

The Argus:

Clare Connor

“Clare was on board before my time and she has fought so hard for the women’s game.

“It was a special day for everyone at Lord’s, to play in front of 27,000 in a World Cup final.

“There will be expectation now but the girls are confident of living up to it.

“We have never said we are the best players individually, but we are a proper team.

“We have got tough teams coming over. The level of all teams is improving.

“South Africa have probably got the best bowling attack and New Zealand are a very good team who tend to under-achieve at global events.

“New Zealand tend to be the bridesmaids at big competitions but we know how good they are.

“We start at Hove which is fantastic. Super League finals day there last year was fantastic and that was largely down to (groundsman) Andy Mackay and the wicket he prepared.

“The wicket is always important for a game of cricket but even more so in the women’s game than the men’s.

“If it is slow and low, the women don’t have the physical power to get the ball away.

“Andy prepared a good wicket and the ball went through.”

England came from behind to draw the series Down Under.

It was while they were away that news of the OBE landed on the Robinson family doormat.

The England coach said: “My wife opened the letter and thought it must be a speeding fine or to do with tax or something.

“She didn’t tell me what it was until I got back.

“At that stage it’s a nomination. Then, a couple of days before the 30th, a few press things come through so you sort of know.”

England captain Heather Knight received an OBE while bowler Anya Shrubsole and Tammy Beaumont both received the MBE.

Connor, the England and Wales Cricket Board director of women’s cricket, has become a CBE having previously been awarded an OBE.

Robinson believes that, despite missing out on an Ashes series win, the women’s game remains on a high after a hard-fought battle across the formats.

The series finished level at eight points apiece with the Aussies taking half of their tally by winning the opening pair of one-dayers.

England, getting into their stride, won the third ODI, drew the Test match and then won two of three Twenty20 contests.

Robinson said: “Australia went out of their way to embrace their traditional hard-nosed approach, let’s say.

“It was quite an eye-opener in some ways.

“We have been watching the men’s series and seeing some of the things we went through as well.

“Each team must go about things the way they see best, “Our team are role models. We try to go out there with a smile and be accessible to the public.

“A couple more weeks and we felt we would have brought it home.

“We felt we had them on the run and had some momentum.

“But a drawn series was probably a fair result.

“We beat them by just four runs in the World Cup so the teams are evenly matched.

“It was a fantastic series with good crowds, especially the Test match.”

It is a way off yet but - next stop Hove.

Robinson said: “The size of the ground is perfect. Get 5,500 in there and you get a brilliant atmosphere.

“It’s something we’ll look forward to.”