Trevor Bayliss has hinted he would recommend splitting the England coaching job in the future. Bayliss’ contract as head coach expires at the end of September and he has made it clear he has no intention of seeking an extension. Instead, he is likely to pursue a future as a freelance coach on short-term deals offered by competitions such as the Big Bash League and The Hundred.
After four years in the England job, however, he is well-placed to advise on the pitfalls of the role. In that time, he has missed just one tour; a short, limited-overs trip to the Caribbean that was instead overseen by Paul Farbrace. And, having held a meeting with Ashley Giles, the new managing director of England men’s cricket, shortly before departing, it seems Bayliss stressed the difficulties of a role that entails the best part of 300 days a year in hotel rooms.
As a result, it seems he would recommend either splitting the role into two, with a limited-overs coach and a Test coach both answering to Giles, or appointing one head coach with several deputies who could take charge of some series.
“It’s very difficult,” Bayliss said. “I said to Giles the other day that if they go with one coach then it might help to have two or three assistants underneath. It could be that they take charge in some more series. Then the head coach gets a break and it gives experience to two or three homegrown coaches.”
Part of the issue with the role as it stands at present is that it may deter some of the better candidates from applying. While it is a prestigious, well-paid job, it has also become so all-encompassing that it could take the incumbent away from their family for longer than they feel is acceptable. In the winter of 2019-20, for example, England face tours to New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka, which could see those involved on the road for around five months.
Whatever happens next, Bayliss knows he faces an action-packed final nine months in the job. With a World Cup starting in June and an Ashes series to follow, he also knows his legacy as England coach will be decided by it.
“It probably couldn’t get any bigger,” he said. “Especially happening at home and within a few months. That brings pressure, but one thing we have been working towards is playing under some pressure. When we get to the big stage it is out of our hands, it’s down to the guys to perform on the day. I don’t think we could have done too much more.
“Some of the results and the way they have begun to play suggests we are heading in the right direction. There’s no secret we’ve been looking to fill a few spots in the Test side permanently and hopefully some are close to being filled.”
While much of England’s strategy over the last few years has been geared towards success in the World Cup – a tournament they have never won and which is seen as vital in engaging a new audience – Bayliss is reluctant to view it as any greater a priority than the Ashes.
“I’m not sure winning the World Cup would be more special,” he said. “There’s nothing like beating Australia in the Ashes, like we did in 2015. And having lost in Australia 12 months ago… it’s hard to pick between the Ashes and the World Cup. Hopefully we walk away with both trophies.”