SYDNEY — There was general consensus in Australia yesterday that retaining the Ashes this year got a little bit harder after the appointment of wily compatriot Trevor Bayliss as England’s new head coach.
While former cricketers lined up to hail the success of “a ripper of a bloke” in landing such a big job, Australia coach Darren Lehmann gave a reminder that immediate success for Bayliss could mean failure for his country.
“Trevor has been a great servant of the game in Australia and has had great success with New South Wales in both the long and short format,” he said from Antigua, where the Test side are preparing for a series against West Indies.
“A trademark of Trevor’s teams are that they are well prepared and this just serves as another reminder to us that this Ashes will be a tough contest.”
English cricket fans will be happy if Bayliss has as much impact on their team, humiliated 5-0 in the last Ashes series in 2013-14, as Lehmann had on Australia after taking over in the wake of the sacking of Mickey Arthur in 2013.
If Bayliss does manage to galvanise England in time for the start of the Ashes in Cardiff on July 8, it is safe to say it will not be through extended data analysis or complicated tactical or psychological interventions.
“He has been successful for very simple reasons, and that is he keeps it simple,” former Test bowler Geoff Lawson said when Bayliss first applied for the England job last year.
“He never gets overly excited or overly depressed by the game or by performances and he’s got a great knowledge of the game.
“But, his man management is a real strength — he’s relaxed and calming and able to get the best out of players.”
Bayliss will certainly bring inside knowledge of the Australia side with Michael Clarke, Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood among those to have played under him at New South Wales.
And if the first Australian to run the England side lacks any local knowledge, he will have assistant coach Paul Farbrace at his side, as he did when he led Sri Lanka to the 2011 World Cup final. Bayliss was described as “old-school” by spin-bowling great Shane Warne among others and there was widespread agreement on the quality of the 52-year-old as a man. — Reuters