Bayliss all set for a warm homecoming
THE Aussies are preparing to roll out the red carpet for Trevor Bayliss as he prepares to lead England Down Under this winter – but they’re warning him to expect another 5-0 thrashing.
Bayliss will be the first Aussie to lead England on an Ashes tour and will unquestionably be the most popular coach to step off the plane on Australian soil wearing an England tracksuit.
But while there will be plenty of people wishing the New South Welshman well, Mike Whitney, a former team-mate and long-time friend of a man he calls TB, laughs that the goodwill will only extend until the opening morning of the first Test at the Gabba.
“He’s a great bloke, a lovely guy,” says Whitney. “He’ll be welcomed home with open-arms because everybody does love TB. I was humbled to play with the bloke for ten years and he was a fantastic New South Wales cricketer.
“He was a very good run scorer; one of the best we ever had in the field and he could bowl some seamers as well. He was just a wonderful bloke to be around.
“He was fairly quiet, that’s his demeanor – he left all the activity in the dressing room to me and Greg Matthews.
“I think everybody respects that he’s one of the best coaches in the world and the England job is obviously a very prestigious one. I think the Aussies will welcome him with open-arms but hope he gets beat 5-0!”
That hasn’t been an unfamiliar scoreline for England fans to stomach in recent years, with two of the last three series finishing in unedifying whitewashes.
The potential absence of Ben Stokes for at least part of the tour has now raised expectations Down Under that history could well repeat itself in the coming months, particularly given the chaos that has surrounded the England team since that now infamous night in Bristol.
Bayliss has maintained a typically reserved counsel in the meantime, despite the talks of curfews and tighter monitoring of players’ off-pitch behaviour. The Australian has, for the most part, allowed this England team greater freedom to express themselves since taking over the role before the 2015 Ashes series on home soil.
Whitney, though, believes that Bayliss won’t be forced into a kneejerk reaction regardless of what transpires in the run-up to England heading to Australia.
“I’m pretty sure he’ll be disappointed in Ben,” he says. “Obviously we don’t know what has gone on before, but Trevor would have taken it pretty hard. Ben Stokes is a fabulous cricketer – he’s a batter who can win you the game and a bowler who can bowl a devastating spell like Botham could. He’s an absolute gun and you’ve really got to pick two blokes to replace him.
“If he doesn’t come then that’s a big hole (to fill), but I’ve known Trevor since the mid-1980s and he’s very level-headed. He’s still got a lot of Aussie bush in him and he’s not one to make an emotional decision. He’ll already have plans in place no matter what happens, don’t you worry about that.”
Welcome home: Trevor Bayliss will return to Australia with England this winter