Trevor Bayliss says that his proudest achievement as England coach was to over-see the “change of attitude” in England’s white-ball cricket that laid the groundwork for this summer’s maiden World Cup victory, as his four-year tenure ended with a 135-run win in the fifth and final Test against Australia at The Oval.
Bayliss’s appointment by Andrew Strauss, back in 2015, came off the back of England’s dismal showing in that year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, with the express remit of delivering a side that could win the next tournament, in four years’ time, on home soil.
That goal was achieved in spectacular fashion in a final for the ages against New Zealand at Lord’s in July, a result that Bayliss described as the “cherry on the top” of his time in charge of England’s various squads.
“A change of attitude [was required],” Bayliss told Sky Sports at the end of the Oval Test. “A change of the way we played the game. Looking back to the 2015 World Cup, England probably played the game in a little bit of an old-fashioned way, and [my role] was about bringing in players that were more attuned to playing the more modern style of game.
“But it was about attitude as well, about the knowledge that whoever won that World Cup was going to have to play some bold cricket, and we stuck to our guns through those four years, and through some tough periods as well.
“That allowed us to have some tough conversations with the boys, but they stuck to what they believed in and in the way they played, even though over a period of time thet learned how to adapt to situations.”
In Test cricket, Bayliss’s record was more hit and miss – as an overall record of 27 victories and 25 losses in 59 matches shows. However, that same character that carried England to World Cup glory was evident at key moments of the Ashes – not least at Headingley, where Ben Stokes produced a performance for the ages to keep the series alive.
Bayliss’s role in helping Stokes to achieve his potential was lauded by Joe Root at the end of the contest – he was a key influence both in the wake of Stokes’ non-selection for the 2015 World Cup and subsequently in his rehabilitation after the Bristol incident in September 2017. But Bayliss insisted that the credit for his rise belonged to the player himself.
“Look, I think Ben’s his own greatest success,” he said. “Coaches can only lead a team or players in in a certain direction but, in the end, it’s up to that player or those players to actually grab hold of that situation and be the ones to improve. And I think Ben, on and off the field, is growing unbelievably well.”
One of the key selections of England’s summer was Jofra Archer, who bowled the decisive Super Over in the World Cup final, and also picked up 22 wickets in a stellar Ashes campaign, one that included the savage blow to the head that left Steve Smith with concussion in the Lord’s Test.
Asked how England should seek to manage Archer, whose skills make him an automatic pick in all formats, Bayliss warned that it would be a “difficult and delicate” balance to protect him against burn-out, particularly given what an incisive and hard-working option he had been to Root throughout the Ashes.
“I think maybe in Test cricket, I know Joe had relied on him to go with some longer spells this series, but I think looking forward it might be a case that he comes in a little bit shorter spells,” he said. “Four or five overs. Come on, bowl a few thunderbolts, and have a rest and then come back on a little bit later.”
Reflecting on the final Ashes scoreline of 2-2, Bayliss said that pride had been at stake in the final Test even though the urn was out of reach, and the team had been motivated to end the summer on a high.
“It was a fantastic effort,” he said. “Obviously we weren’t able to win it, but the boys had some pride at stake, and this new Test Championship [was added motivation]. It was a great effort and I thought we showed a lot of character.
“I think 2-2 was a fair reflection,” he added. “We certainly didn’t play as well in the very first Test at Edgbaston when we had them 8 for 120, and Steve Smith played a wonderful innings, as good as Stokes in the third Test. So it’s a bit hard to be too disappointed.”