There are fewer than 120 days until the Cricket World Cup. The last time the event took place, England were not up to the pace of modern One Day Cricket. They were lethargic, lacked power and were behind every major cricketing nation. Fast forward to present day and they, along with India, are the pace setters of the One Day game. The man responsible for this? Trevor Bayliss.
What they have done for the England One Day side is nothing short of fantastic; two world record team innings, two players beating England’s highest individual score and beating India, Australia, New Zealand and the rest. It is fair to say they have done rather well, building a quality squad with plenty of depth.
Now let us focus on England as a Test team. Peter Moores was sacked as England manager after an unsuccessful tour of the West Indies which followed the 2015 World Cup. An Ashes summer loomed large and England were deemed to be not playing well enough. They were suffering from a lack of a Test opener to partner Alastair Cook and some shoddy fielding. England went on to win that Ashes series, playing on green seamers to the benefit of their bowlers, and fielding brilliantly (Ben Stokes at Trent Bridge anyone?).
But let’s look at the stats. Under Bayliss, England have played 53 Test matches, won 23, lost 24 and drawn six. Of those 24 losses, 15 have been away from home. 15 losses out of 26 matches. For a squad with the amount of talent that England possess, that is too many, and this comes down to the coaching. While Bayliss deserves praise for the way he has turned around the One Day team, the Test team has been underperforming, with the latest loss to the West Indies yet another away series debacle.
After a wonderful campaign in Sri Lanka to losing a Test series within seven days of cricket is quite the contradiction in form. Turning down a proper four-day game as a warm-up to play two two-day games is borderline arrogance – and it has shown in England’s cricket.
The batting is lacking in fortitude, folding quicker than a wet paper towel. Almost half the losses have been by an innings, with a further four by nine or 10 wickets. Under Bayliss, England have not improved.
They do not learn and yet despite the players being four years older and wiser, they are still making the same mistakes that blighted their cricket before. England have still not found an opener to replace Andrew Strauss and now they need to replace Cook as well. Whilst this may not be laid squarely at Bayliss’s doorstep, it does show a lack of forward thinking.
So, here we are, four months until the Ashes, and England find themselves in the exact same state as they were four years ago. No opener, dropping catches and a poor tour of the West Indies, yet Bayliss is, at the moment, still in a job. Something needs to change now, and I am afraid it starts with the coach and how he prepares his team, because currently, it is not up to scratch.
By David Morgan