Trevor Bayliss is confident England’s series win in Sri Lanka is the beginning of a “different era” that will comfortably outlive his own tenure as head coach.
Victories in Galle and Kandy have given the tourists a 2-0 lead heading into the final Test in Colombo, ending a near three-year wait for overseas success.
Finding a winning formula away from home has been the major challenge of Bayliss’s time at the helm with only one of his previous six Test tours ending in triumph: a memorable but anomalous 2015-16 trip to South Africa.
Having already stated his intention to depart when his contract expires after next summer’s Ashes, this winter represented a final opportunity to reposition the side as a major force outside of England and the Australian has seen enough to believe that process is well under way.
Joe Root’s captaincy has hit a new stride as he begins to shape the ethos in his own image, while the likes of Sam Curran, Ben Foakes and Rory Burns have broken into the side in impressive style. The retirement of Alastair Cook, the country’s record cap-holder and run-scorer, might easily have ushered in a period of uncertainty, but Bayliss has seen the dressing room evolve quickly.
“This group are all, apart from one or two, fairly close in age, they’re good mates and they all seem to be responding to Joe’s call,” he said.
“We loved having Cook in the team, it’s just a different era. Things move on. There’s no secret in the fact we’ve been looking for two or three, maybe even four, positions to sort of get nailed down over the last few years. I think on this particular tour we’ve probably seen two or three of those positions getting nailed down.
“We’ve come upon two or three guys that have a good possibility of having long careers for England.”
Bayliss, though, is not in it for the long haul. Asked if recent developments tempted him to stick around longer than planned he was unmoved.
“I’ve always been of the opinion, even before I started the England job, that four to five years is a good life for a coach with one team,” he said. “Hopefully you take it forward, but then it’s up to a new voice, maybe someone of a different direction to take the team forward. I’ve always been of that opinion and that’s not going to change.”
This means no second chance for him to take on India in their own backyard with the hope of avenging the 4-0 loss of two years ago using lessons collected on similar pitches in Sri Lanka.
“Hopefully this is a learning curve for these guys. I look forward to watching the next series in India on TV,” he added with a smile.
Of more immediate concern is the make-up of the XI that will attempt to complete a series sweep in Colombo, with the third Test starting on Friday.
Curran suffered a side strain in Kandy and could sit out, with Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Olly Stone all angling for his place.
“We’re just going to have to wait and see how it pulls up after a few days. These things either settle fairly quickly or they hang around for a bit,” was Bayliss’s assessment.
Jonny Bairstow is also hoping to feature after being kept on the sidelines thus far, first by injury and then by the emergence of Foakes.
“I think in Test cricket it’s about trying to pick the best team every time to win every match,” said Bayliss.