England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Colin Graves has promised “a lot of soul-searching” but “no witch hunt” as England try to plot a way forward after their miserable 4-0 Ashes trouncing this winter.
But England coach Trevor Bayliss has decided to walk away at the end of his contract in 2019 after vowing to begin the job of building a team ready to win in Australia.
Former Yorkshire CCC chairman Graves’ remarks will come as a relief to those who believe the current regime of Bayliss and assistant Paul Farbrace can still improve current fortunes.
Under Bayliss, since May, 2015, England have lost more Test matches than they have won – mostly away from home, in India last winter and again in this Ashes campaign – but there have been notable successes at home to Australia and in South Africa.
The consensus is also that limited-overs prospects are very much on the up, with a World Cup as well as an Ashes rematch set to take place in England next year.
Graves has suggested that tweaks to arrangements for Ashes tours – splitting Test and limited-overs campaigns across different years and improving the standard of warm-up opposition – may help.
“We have a very good relationship with Cricket Australia and we are already talking to (chief executive) James Sutherland,” he said.
As for the response to a campaign in which Joe Root’s tourists were largely outclassed, he added: “There will be a lot of soul-searching about how we can get it better for next time.
“Everyone is very disappointed. Everyone gave their all, but we have to do things better going forward.”
James Anderson had to address the post-match press conference after England’s final innings defeat in Sydney on Monday, because Root was so badly affected by severe dehydration that he was sleeping in a darkened dressing-room as the flawed campaign was concluded.
Joe Root, as the captain, will still be there and there’s a base of six or seven players that will still be young and good enough to be in the team.Trevor Bayliss looks to return Down Under.
Graves added: “There is no specific review. We have Andrew Strauss (director of England cricket) as MD of the England team and (ECB chief executive) Tom Harrison in charge, and I trust them completely to make the right decisions.
“There will be no witch hunt. We have to look at it and see how we can improve, so in four years’ time we are better placed to win (in Australia) than we were this time.”
Bayliss insisted the 4-0 Ashes defeat had no bearing on his decision. Having started his tenure by winning the urn in England in 2015, he will sign off in September, 2019 after another home Ashes contest.
“I told Andrew Strauss probably 12 months ago that is when I’m contracted to and that would see me out,” he said.
“I’ve never been anywhere any more than four or five years. Whether you’re going well or not I’ve always felt that round about that four-year mark is time to change. A new voice, a slightly different approach slightly reinvigorates things, so I passed that on to him 12 months ago.”
Announcing his plans shows honesty from the plain-speaking 55-year-old but with English fans, players and administrators all desperate for an improved showing Down Under in four years’ time, it is also a brave step.
Put simply, many of the most important issues facing the national – over selection, style and even infrastructure – will be overseen by a man who will be gone before crunch time arrives.
It puts him in a position somewhat akin to second-term president, trying to institute initiatives he will not benefit from and which could be easily reversed by his successor.
That elevates Test captain Root’s importance even more, a fact Bayliss is happy to promote.
“I’ve got no problem working towards a long-term goal even if I’m not going to be there,” he said.
“You leave a coaching position hopefully with the team in a better place than when you started. Joe Root, as the captain, will still be there and there’s a base of six or seven players that will still be young and good enough to be in the team.
“The captain is in charge, but we’re there to help out. Joe is a young captain and I would expect in four years when he comes back, with another four years’ experience and an away Ashes under his belt, he’ll feel a lot more comfortable.”
Bayliss accepts the side must evolve if it is to reach new levels but he warns followers not to expect instant results. “It’s not going to be an overnight success. If you bring three or four young blokes into the team it will be a slower process as they learn what the international game is about,” he said.
“It’s about slowly getting them involved, not necessarily in the team but around the squad to begin with and filtering them into the team when positions become available or when they force their way in.
“If it is to occur that we’re not necessarily as successful as we’d like to be because we’re blooding some young players it’s about being able to take it on the chin. Hopefully, everybody realises we are heading in a certain direction.”