If Trevor Bayliss was to be offered the job of England cricket coach it would be his understated demeanour and highly-rated player management skills that would offer greatest appeal, his former New South Wales skipper Geoff Lawson said today.
Lawson, a long-time friend who was on the panel that appointed Bayliss to his former job of NSW coach last year, cited the 51-year-old’s relaxed manner as well as his proven capacity to extract the best from his players as reasons why he has been approached by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
Bayliss, who is contracted to the Blues for another year and will resume his role as coach of the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League later this month, has confirmed he is keen to learn what the ECB has to say regarding the role vacated by Andy Flower after England’s disastrous Ashes tour.
“I am interested in hearing more about the job,” Bayliss told The Telegraph newspaper in the UK.
“I am happy doing the jobs I have got at the moment but when it comes to a position like that (England) I would be silly not to find out what they have to say and finding out a bit more about it.
“I have not met with anyone as of yet but that may happen in the near future.”
Bayliss is yet to receive a formal approach and has told the ECB that while he’s not able to attend official interviews at Lord’s with other short-listed candidates, he’s happy for ECB management to speak with him in Dubai where he begins his IPL preparations.
The shortlist is also understood to include England’s current limited-overs coach Ashley Giles, former national coach Peter Moores and coach of Nottinghamshire Mick Newell.
Lawson said he has briefly discussed the proposed coaching role with Bayliss and believes it’s “highly unlikely” that the former coach of Sri Lanka would pursue another international job given his current NSW and IPL commitments.
But the professional challenge of taking charge of such a high-profile team at a low ebb and turning around their fortunes might appeal to someone who has managed to perform a similar feat with NSW over the past summer, lifting them to the Bupa Sheffield Shield title.
He also took Sri Lanka to the 2011 World Cup final, and the previously under-achieving Knight Riders to the IPL crown the following year.
And it is the issue of player management – highlighted by Ashes opener Michael Carberry this week as an ongoing problem in the England set-up – that might convince the ECB to reconsider their previously preferred option of ensuring a home-grown coach was returned to the role.
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“He (Bayliss) has been successful for very simple reasons, and that is he keeps it simple,” Lawson told cricket.com.au.
“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.
“That’s all part of the territory when you do those sorts of international coaching jobs, it’s not just about the cricket but managing all the other thing that’s around them.
“England no doubt feel that the new coach will need to manage a few people, and they will undoubtedly be bringing in some new, young players.
“You would hope that those young players will have unbounded enthusiasm and that everyone is heading in the right direction and that’s what the coach has got to ensure.
“They certainly weren’t all heading in the right direction during the Australian summer, and it showed.
“But he (Bayliss) is pretty happy where he is and it would take a serious jolt to have him give up what he’s doing.”
Lawson, who understands the challenges of taking on a high-profile, heavily scrutinised cricket job as an outsider having coached Pakistan from 2007-08, conceded that familiarising himself with England’s cricket landscape would loom as one of Bayliss’s biggest challenges.
But he did not believe the current dressing room environment, that deteriorated during the previous Ashes summer and has seen much public bickering between current and former players ever since, and the ensuing criticism from the notorious UK press would present an insurmountable obstacle.
That’s despite the fact Bayliss is the only non-Englishman on the four-man shortlist.
“If the players have respect for the coach and his ability to coach and his communication skills, then you don’t really have those problems,” Lawson said.
“If you’re a foreign coach, and even in Australia if you leave your state and go and coach somewhere else, you face the same sort of thing.
“You can ignore the media, and even ignore the administrators to a large degree.
“If players want to listen and learn then there won’t be a problem.”
The larger issue would be the ability of the incoming England coach to have a say in the personnel - both players and support staff - he will have at his fingertips given that the team’s best-performing Ashes batsman Kevin Pietersen has already been sacked by ECB management.
“That would be a big part of any equation,” Lawson said.
“As any head coach in international cricket these days, you’ve got to have control in what happens around you.
“It’s like being made the boss of a business.
“If they give you staff you’re not happy with and they don’t do the job, the business crashes so all those things would need to be in place I would think.”