Australia has appointed Trevor Bayliss to fill in for Darren Lehmann as national coach for the team’s three KFC Twenty20 matches against South Africa in November.
Bayliss comes into the role with an enviable recent coaching record in Twenty20 cricket, having led Kolkata Knight Riders to IPL success twice in the past three years (2012 and 2014), while a second Bupa Sheffield Shield win this season with NSW also saw him targeted for the vacant England coaching position.
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With the United Arab Emirates tour against Pakistan ending just days before the start of the Australian international summer in early November, Lehmann pointed out that the move was essentially a logistical one.
“It’s not really a break, to be perfectly honest,” he told cricket.com.au.
“I think we get back the day before the first game in Australia (on November 5).
“So it’s just logistically hard because the guys are going to have to prepare before that, so four or five days before that they’ll be in training, getting ready for three T20s in five days.
“Logistically it’s not fair on the players (in terms of) getting prepared right. (It’s) too hard to come straight into a system where they’ve been training for four or five days.
“So from my point of view, they’ve got a one-day series about 10 days after that, so I’ll come home, get ready for that, and off we go again.”
A fill-in coach during such a situation is not new for Australia, with Steve Rixon having occupied the role in India last year and the UAE in 2012.
“It’s so much cricket coming up and now the programme is getting tighter for Cricket Australia and the world game, sometimes we’re going to have to do that,” added Lehmann.
“Trevor has an outstanding record in T20, and he jumped at the chance, which is great.
“We’re trying to go down this one way we want to play throughout Australia, and he’s bought into that and he’ll be an excellent coach.”
Lehmann also pointed out that Australia’s policy of maintaining one head coach across the three formats – a subject he discussed in depth with cricket.com.au last month – would continue.
“We’ve seen other teams (split coaching roles) and (it) not work,” he said.
“I’m not saying it might not work in the future, but certainly at the moment, that one voice, and that one way we all want to play as a playing group and support staff group is really important.
“There are going to be times when you’re going to have to take a break, I totally understand that, but we’ve got to pick and choose the times.”
And despite Bayliss’ credentials, the current boss quashed any suggestions that this appointment meant the Blues coach was being groomed for the head role in the future; instead, such an opportunity may even become a rotational thing among the domestic coaches.
“We want to promote all our state coaches where possible, so it won’t be just Trevor that gets an opportunity – it could be someone else next time,” he said.
“It works in different ways depending on what’s available, who’s available, and where we’re going.”
Cricket Australia executive general manager of team performance Pat Howard echoed Lehmann’s sentiment.
“With Lehmann in the UAE focused on the Test matches, we have appointed Trevor to focus on the Australian T20 team to give them the best chance of winning the KFC T20 International series against South Africa,” Howard said.
“At the same time, on his return Darren will be able to refocus on bringing the ODI team together in a very big year for 50-over cricket.
“Darren will have had the Zimbabwe tri-series and the UAE tour against Pakistan in quick succession immediately before the biggest ever summer of cricket in Australia, so it’s important he has some time to prepare for each series.
“The dual benefit of this decision is that it presents a great opportunity for Trevor to work with the Australian team and is another example of Australian cricket working collectively as ‘one team’.”
Bayliss was excited about the prospect of taking his coaching to a new level in his own backyard.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work with some of Australia’s best T20 players,” he said.
“Of course it will be hard to leave NSW at the start of the season, but I’m very much looking forward to this opportunity and know that the Blues will be well looked after while I’m away.”