Let’s just think about this for a second.
On the one hand you have Peter Moores, who has won the English county championship twice but never lifted a single domestic limited overs trophy.
On the other you have Trevor Bayliss, who has won the Sheffield Shield twice, the ING Cup, the Big Bash, the IPL twice, and led Sri Lanka to the World Cup final.
Only the ECB could weigh up both candidates and decide that the former, not the latter, was the greatest coach of his generation. Thank heavens things are different a year later.
The news broke yesterday – well, in typical ECB style it actually leaked out a few days ago before any official announcement was made – that Trevor Bayliss was the new England cricket coach.
The ECB have finally done what they should have done a year ago and appointed the best candidate. Well done, Straussy.
I’ve always liked the cut of Bayliss’s jib. He’s straight talking, likeable in a no nonsense way, speaks with authority and most importantly of all, people listen when he talks. If he was my boss, I would respect him.
Most importantly of all, however, Bayliss will finally change the stifling culture that has held English cricket back for far too long.
Nobody doubts that Andy Flower did a very good job, but English cricket has been directed by combinations of Moores and Flower since 2007. Things were stale and needed fresh thinking.
When Andrew Strauss was appointed Director of English cricket I despaired. He’s too close to the dressing room – something I still maintain – but most importantly of all I thought he’d be too close to the old, tired regime.
Thankfully, however, Bayliss’s appointment makes me a lot more optimistic about the future. He’s exactly the kind of coach we need.
Bayliss encourages players to relax and think for themselves. In other words, Bayliss has a hands-off approach that couldn’t be more different to the intense, controlling methodology of Flower, and to a lesser extend, Moores.
Those who enjoyed England’s fabulous victory at Lord’s a few days ago saw a young team freed from its shackles. We played with vim and gusto. Stokes was heroic. It was joyful to watch.
Farbrace and Bayliss know each other well so I expect the feel good factor to flourish. The fearlessness or Lord’s will endure.
Bayliss is something of a disciplinarian, but flair players and individuals have also thrived under his leadership. I hope, and expect, our young players to accelerate their development with him at the helm.
Crucially – and I cannot understate this – Bayliss is no pigmy. He’s a grizzled cricketing heavyweight who is respected around the world. He’ll look Darren Lehmann in the eye and know he can beat him.
Bayliss also knows the Australian team extremely well – not only because he coached them briefly during a T20 series in South Africa, but also because he’s studied their development at close quarters for years.
Nobody expects this appointment will make England Ashes favourites at the drop of a hat, but it should give us a much better chance.
Having said all that, I do have some concerns. England have run a contrasting ship for almost a decade. There are bound to be teething problems.
The biggest question is how Bayliss will gel with Alastair Cook. It’s no secret that our skipper sometimes struggles to think on his feet – he often seems reliant on dressing room instructions. How many times have England followed preconceived plans and stuck to them, religiously, even when the rhythm of day has shifted?
This approach will cut no ice with Bayliss. Will they even see eye to eye? On the surface they’re the stereotypical odd couple: the relaxed, straight talking Aussie and the introspective conservative Englishman. There could be interesting times ahead.
Of course, their relationship might not have to last long. Rumour has it that Cook will resign at the end of the Ashes whatever the result. This is probably a good thing. Root’s chirpy and aggressive personality seems like a better fit.
Despite my optimism, however, I do have a problem with Bayliss’s nationality. I’m sure many people will disagree, but it doesn’t sit well with me that England have appointed an Aussie as their head coach. It doesn’t seem natural. It’s like appointing Jurgen Klinsmann as the England football manager.
My position has nothing to do with xenophobia. I wasn’t opposed to Duncan Fletcher or Andy Flower, and I had no problem with Sven-Goran Eriksson or Fabio Capello. I just think that appointing an Aussie is like admitting defeat.
And if it’s not an admission of defeat then it’s surely cheating! The Aussies are our ultimate cricketing rivals. This feels like Sherlock Holmes replacing Watson with Moriarty.
Having Australian support staff is one thing, but an Australian head coach is so much more integral to the fabric of the side – he decides tactics, selects the final XI, gives motivational speeches and generally runs the whole show.
My feelings on this appointment are therefore a little mixed. There’s no question that Bayliss is made of the right stuff: a candidate with his philosophy and CV is absolutely ideal. However, because he’s Australian consider one of my eyebrows firmly raised.
I suppose I should be grateful that Strauss didn’t choose Jason Gillespie. Much as a like Dizzy, and think we would have done a good job, his effortless brutalisation of English batsmen is still fresh in my memory.
At least Bayliss is a few steps removed from the hidings Australia gave us in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I guess I’ll just have to get over myself.