Trevor Bayliss: Great Coach, Shame About the Nationality

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.

James Morgan



  • You say Bayliss is ‘made of the right stuff’ but most of the traits you list are standard issue among Australians. They’re absent in England because that says more about the Poms’ weird, establishment-loving, safety-first neuroses than it does about any individual Australians.

    But yes, it’s absolutely an admission of defeat. England couldn’t find a decent coach within their own system so chased a bunch of Aussies instead. They appointed Moores twice and it backfired twice. This time, it wasn’t just Bayliss, but Gillespie and Langer as well. What does that tell you about the quality of English coaches vs Australian coaches?

    As for the rest of it – ‘Bayliss looking Lehmann in the eye and knowing he can beat him’ – I don’t think that’s quite how it works. The Ashes isn’t going to be won or lost by the coaches.

  • IMHO it will be interesting to see what happens when there are disagreements in terms of tactics or strategy because there will have to be some, it is natural.

    Will there be silence from inside cricket or will there be leaking and back briefing? “It is understood…” … that some anonymouse is pursuing politics, basically.

    If it is true that Cook has declared himself a lame duck this could genuinely be a very helpful and constructive move.

    • There was me thinking Strauss was going off to Westminster having fought and won the Chelsea seat. That wasn’t true either. My dream shattered. I’ll believe it when I see it.

      • What I meant by that was that when it’s an accepted tactic for individuals within the ECB to justify and explicate their actions by cowardly anonymous leaks, when in fact this kind of thing is the first tool that is reached for whenever there’s an internal difficulty, there’s going to be trouble. Here’s hoping the organization behaves in a more disciplined fashion than in the past.

        It will certainly be a (welcome) change in behavior if the people making the decisions are briefing them to the press openly and under their own names.

  • Good stuff James. Hope that Bayliss is his own man but I doubt it. Strauss said, on the one hand, that he didn’t want a “yes” man. Then on the other hand, he would demand someone with the same philosophy as him. Now I don’t know about you but that left me with a genuine sinking moment. Mind, when it was announced that Strauss would be new cheese, my heart sank into my boots and beyond. I still have that sinking feeling.

  • Good blog James. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I’m strongly against an Australian coach.
    One reason is obviously he’s an Aussie (and I’m far from xenophobic, despite being called it many times for this view, and my Eoin Morgan one)
    But the national team should be the national team from players to coaches, to support staff. If our best coach isn’t good enough then we should bloody well do something about it, not poach other countries best coaches.

    Taking that out though and judging him on merit it does look a very good and bold appointment,

    • The National team should have the best coach. PERIOD. India’s fortunes started improving only after John Wright.

      What you can expect is thatthe coach should have decent experience around the world like Farbrace for example, which clearly Moores didnt have.

      • Different views. Mine started really with football with Sven & Capello coming and taking the cash and have got stronger.

        • Kind of ironic that you’ve picked two managers who, from memory, had better records than their English counterparts in the job..

          • If all you care about is winning, then yes employ the best coaches for the most money.
            However if you care about the quality of talent in your country, the future of the sport and national pride then you need to promote your own talent.
            They are the only 2 examples you can use for football. The 2 for cricket have great records too. Nothing ironic about it.

            • And having a successful team achieving its potential is likely to achieve all three better in the long run, even if this requires a non-English coach.

    • A great post James. Interesting and giving food for thought. I’m not altogether happy about having an Australisn coach but if we want a turnaround in English cricket it seems like the only option at the moment. Like you say, we are sadly coming from a position of defeat.

      Your thoughts on Cook and Bayliss coming together as the odd couple struck a chord with me. It could be an issue with the team as a whole and not simply Cook. The Australian way is not the English way. There are fundamental differences. It works with Dizzy in Yorkshire and Bayliss seems to get the best out of people, so hopefully it will work with England in the test arena, home and away. I have my concerns but we will have to wait and see.

      I have been wondering if talk of Cook’s resignation after the Ashes has any foundatiion in fact, or if it’s just supposition. If it’s another disaster he will be gone but if he/we put up a fair showing it might be best if he stays on. Giving Root the responsibility too soon, in an away series to boot, could be the ruination of him. I think he is too valuable as a happy free flowing batsman to risk with immediate captaincy. His previous record in that role is not too good either.

      Thanks for all the time and effort you put into this blog James and for your patience and courtesy in the handling of the recent flak. Keep smiling, it’s always a pleasure to be with you.

    • njhag – But did you have that view on Flower / Fletcher. Or is “Commonwealth” OK?

      It is essential to be in contact with the modern game. Also get out of the incedious ECB loop (Loughbourough thinking Flower V.04). How many English coaches are working in SA, AUS etc, getting IPL experience etc. (genuine question – I do not know?).

      I think times have moved on.The way to truely “high performance” – select he best man…. Despite my scepsism the South African born comma Director might well bring a fresh wind…. I am though still concerned as to Flower’s influence in the background, young players etc.

      PS – Great blog, I support and respect your views on here very much . Thank you

        • OOPS – of course Australia is, and what is more Zimbabwe not (since 2003)!!!

          But my (badly made) point is that neither Flower or Fletcher were not fitting the “… the national team should be the national team from players to coaches, to support staff..” bill.

          I am off to study my Commonwealth countries …like Mozambique…

          • :-)

            I get it, my stance is idealism which I accept will never happen, and something a lot of England fans gave up on years ago. We’d rather have the best money can buy regardless of nationality if it brings success.

            I know a lot of people disagree with me, I never react to the xenophobia stuff because it’s lazy and cheap and very far off the mark, I just believe that sport at international level should be Nation vs Nation

            Maxie has posted a new post which is very thought provoking – many casual cricket fans I know have become disconnected with the team, not because of the ECB or Sky or ticket prices – It’s because they think we just draft in players from anywhere with no link to England (that’s not my view by the way)

  • Whats wrong with Klinsmann coaching England? If he offered to coach England can they really afford to say no to him?

    I would have preferred NewZealanders like Fleming specifically, because I think Fleming would complement Cook excellently. Fleming is very good in Tactics and also fronts-up and serves up huge doses of home-truths when things go wrong.

    He is also young, whereas Bayliss is past 50, but I guess the partnership with Farbrace, clinched the deal.

  • Don’t really have an issue with his nationality – if he’s good enough and gets the best out the players then fine by me.

    In an ideal world perhaps all national team staff would originate from the place in question but that doesn’t happen in practice. If we win the Ashes, can hardly see the Aussies taking him being “one of their own” as a crumb of comfort. It would be a bit pathetic really…

    Feel differently about the actual players though.

  • It IS an admission of defeat, and an entirely honest and correct one at that. It’s common knowledge that the Aussie system works and ours doesn’t. To admit that is not a crime.

    Get it together, James.

    • Because I neither fear nor hate Australians. It’s just a personal preference based on tradition and a little pride. I actually like Aussies as a general rule, having spent 7 months there after uni.

  • I think the key is that Strauss is much more his own man than has been previously given credit for. The mistake that many make is assuming that, just because he had a good working relationship with Flower, that Flower was still going to be pulling the strings. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Flower’s coaching tenure went downhill fairly quickly after Strauss retired.

    What I like so far is that he’s been decisive and moved quickly – although the leaking of the Moores decision was shoddy, he has acted decisively there, and the process of appointing Bayliss seems to have been managed well and without fuss. I actually wonder if Bayliss was his first choice all along and he let the media run on the assumption it was Gillespie to give him some space to go after Bayliss.

    The test for Strauss will come if and when he has to make a decision over Cook’s captaincy.

    I think Cook’s test captaincy is way better than it was cHeadingley last year (his ODI captaincy was always utter toilet). What I liked about the other day was his willingness to change things about. He didn’t bowl Jimmy into the floor in the hope that he would come good, and he wasn’t afraid to change things (Mo had 3 overs then was changed ends, and when he served up an over with 3 full tosses was taken off). His problem is that he does follow the ball too much, but maybe he needs a coach who’s going to encourage him to take decisions rather than a laptop fiend.

  • Good appointment – Bayliss’ CV is easily the best of the available candidates, and certainly way better than any English one. His record in ODI cricket, the area we need to improve most, is particularly strong – a foreign coach from completely outside the ECB system will have fresh ideas and not be wedded to the conservative mindset we’ve persisted with for so long. He’s also less likely to be a yes-man for Strauss, but I guess we need to wait and see on that one. Finally, I couldn’t give a monkey’s that he’s Australian, and doubt any of the players will either.

  • ‘ere…what about all that money the ECB have poured into the coaching programme in an effort to turn out Andy Flower clones….how’s that all going exactly??

  • Bayliss is a good appointment and shows straussy is more decisive than expected mainly because cooky cant call him baylisssy or trevorsy like mooresy that in itself is big stuff and a great step forward and the reason why dizzy was not the right choice.

    Now bayliss is great coach with the right CV he is more or less like flower result oriented but without curbing the players natural style but he is a workmaster too.

    also regarding leaks

    “I knew before the news came out,” Gillespie said. “That’s one thing the ECB may need to work on because things do seem to be coming out but I spoke to Straussy early this morning and one thing I was impressed with is that Andrew was able to contact me and let me know. So I’ve absolutely no problem with that.”

    Strauss: so dizzy wants KP, wants leaks to stop nope he is rejected.

    Next it is easy to understand what james is pointing out, there is nothing wrong in having foreign coaches almost all countries have had one at one time or the other but it doesn’t feel right having one from the arch rivals imagine down the lane steve waugh or ponting/ warne coaching an england side, It just wouldn’t feel right. I mean you cant even gloat fully even after winning isn’t that the point of sports.

    Im also not sure why all the candidates considered were aussies, there are quite a few kiwis, saffers with good CVs and if moores could get a second chance Fletcher could get one too isnt he recently out of job. Farbrace too seemed ideal in this one test.

    Finally Cook Bayliss gelling is vital for ashes mainly cause cook is disturbed when some one is more authoritative than him and they are not close to him is there ,which is why he liked moores. Interesting times.

  • Appointing an Australian as the new coach of the English cricket team…

    No, it is not an admission of defeat. No more than all the other not-quite-English players and coaching staff were. Remember this song from 2 years ago?

    An Australian coach is hardly out there after a certain “South African born” batsman was captain. And hey, Australia had a coach from SA and hired Muralitharan to teach the spin bowlers…

  • It is perhaps an admission that perhaps Peter Moores is the outstanding English coach of his generation.

    Which says a lot about the rest of them, and the system they learn in.

  • My only issue with it being an Aussie coach is if we do win the Ashes then the Aussies will say we couldn’t do it without their help.

    • Then we just chuckle and boast our Aussie coach is better than their Aussie coach

  • Good post James.

    The ‘looking Lehman in the eye’ point is completely valid, Moores, although clearly a top coach lacked a certain Gravitas in his public exchanges in perhaps the way Flower commanded.

    He’s Australian yes, but crucially hasn’t played for Australia. I couldn’t see (and perish the thought) M Vaughan coaching Australia but someone, as a loose example, Chris Adams who has more separation and hasn’t been at the centre of an Ashes battle would be more likely (if qualified).

    • How does Bayliss ‘looking Lehmann in the eye’ help England?

      They’ll probably never be in the same room, apart from at the odd press conference. It’s not like they’ll be coming face to face to arm wrestle and play poker.

      It’s a bizarre contrivance to suggest otherwise.

      • It’s a saying, not literally.

        Teams often adopt the mentality and personality of those who lead them.

  • James,
    Excellent post – although I think it’s a little unfair to criticise Downton for preferring an English coach (the principal reason for Moores’ re-appointment over Bayliss last time) when you admit that preferring an English coach is also your own position!
    I would have been happy with Gillespie or Bayliss but the more I think about it, the more I think Bayliss is the best choice.
    Most importantly of course his CV is impeccable. I might have worried about the recent emphasis on short form cricket, but getting Sri Lanka to second in the test rankings, given their limited resources, was a remarkable achievement. I can’t think of a coach with a more impressive mix of achievements, in various formats and countries.
    The other thing that struck me as I was reading old and new articles on him in the Australian press is that approval of him seems universal. As we know, Aussie cricket is a hard-nosed environment where people aren’t shy in voicing opinions. And I couldn’t find anyone with a bad word to say – no one expressing any reservations. In this country, that’s unusual. On the flip side of that, recommendations come from Lehmann, Warne (who has nothing good to say about coaches) and Steve Waugh (who apparently wanted him to come to Kent). As a trio of references go, they’ll do for me.
    As for the future with Cook, I think if Bayliss and Farbrace can encourage players to relax and play their natural games, then the captaincy will take care of itself – exactly as it did over the Lords test. Eleven players playing with confidence and without fear, and with total belief in each other, is a lot more important than whether the captain decides to have a third man or not. That said, if Root does take over and develops a flair for captaincy, then of course it’s another win.
    I think Bayliss is an excellent appointment – and a tip of the hat to Andrew Strauss is in order. Onwards and upwards.

    • Moores only got the job as he was the only candidate prepared to not select KP AND be saddled with Cook as ODI captain. What decent coach in their right mind would take the job with those pre-conditions?

  • I think it is an admission of defeat, but much like the football team, it’s an overdue and necessary one. We haven’t sorted our own house out and we’ve given it plenty of tries. (Although I wonder if we would have done better to have given Newell a chance when Flower was “moved.”)

    I’ll note in passing however that the Sven and Fabio couldn’t fix the structural problems with the bringing through of young players. One can’t help but wonder what a mess England would be in if Gillespie hadn’t come to Yorkshire.

    Bowling depth will remain a particular challenge for Bayliss I think – Stokes naturally blows hot and cold, Wood seems injury prone. This summer will tell us a lot about whether Ali is the solution in the spin slot. Broad and Anderson will have to be managed workload wise…

  • I don’t have a problem with a foreign coach if they bring fresh ideas, improve the team and disrupt the status quo in a positive way. The fact that Bayliss can manage mavericks in a team bodes well and I find it no surprise that England played with a nothing to lose freedom under Farbrace against NZ unlike the stifling cricket delivered by Moores.

    In international sport where the margins are so fine, teams need to be relaxed and confident. The ‘marginal gains’ of Sir Clive Woodward and Sir Dave Brailsford show how innovation can be used successfully. Unfortunately Moores’ over-reliance on statistics had, for me, echoes of Moneyball – using the numbers to create a team greater than the sum of its parts – but while Baseball is stats and probability, cricket requires on-field decision making as the game ebbs and flows. If Bayliss goes back to basics and guides this young team I think it can only be a positive and help close the gap on Australia and other teams in terms of thinking about tactics in the different formats.

    I would also like the ECB to acknowledge that England seem to be off the pace and use this as an opportunity to start thinking a little bit differently and being more aggressive/positive in the way we play cricket. For example, are they thinking about how the games is likely to adapt over the next few years and what England need to do to be one step ahead of our rivals?

    If that happens we will have some alternative home grown candidates to manage the national team who can come in and add that element of Englishness as demonstrated by Stuart Lancaster and England Rugby. Cricket should be confident enough to look outside the sport for new ideas that can be adapted for the purpose of keeping our game and national team moving forward.

  • Have to say, I’m more irritated with “Hardy’s of Australia, proud sponsors of England cricket” than the hiring of Bayliss.


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