SYDNEY, (Reuters) – England coach Trevor Bayliss was encouraged by the performance of his new charges in their recent encounters with New Zealand and thinks they have every chance of winning the Ashes if they can keep producing good cricket.
Australian Bayliss, appointed coach last month, left his homeland on Wednesday but has clearly been keeping tabs on England from Sydney, even if he has not yet swapped the “they” for “we” when referring to the team.
England split a test series 1-1 with the Black Caps before recovering from a 2-1 deficit to win a thrilling one-day series, finishing with a flourish with a win in the sole Twenty20 match.
“It’s been quite exciting, the series against New Zealand, the tests and the one-dayers… got some new, young players in there with plenty of skill, plenty of enthusiasm,” he told Fox Sports TV at Sydney airport.
“So it sounds like they’re in a good place, looks like they’re enjoying themselves out in the field and that’s the main thing.”
Bayliss, the former coach of New South Wales, said his first task in the pre-Ashes training camp in Spain would be to get to know the players and then put together some plans for the series against Australia, which begins in Cardiff on July 8.
“Looking forward to it, to be involved in an Ashes series will be some good fun, I think,” he added.
“I will be just doing the things I normally do with any of the cricket teams I’ve been involved with, and hopefully that means England will be playing some good cricket.
“I’m confident of putting up a good show and if they play some good cricket they’ll be a chance of winning.”
As always, much pride is at stake in the five-test Ashes series with Australia looking for a first triumph on English soil since 2001 and the hosts hoping to erase the memory of their 5-0 humiliation Down Under in 2013-14.
Michael Clarke, Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are among the Australians to have played under Bayliss at New South Wales but he does not think that his inside knowledge will prove decisive.
“I don’t think it will mean winning or losing for either team,” he said. “I think these teams play each other quite a bit, they know what the opposition can do and obviously the Aussies know what England can do.”
Bayliss was inevitably asked about the position of batsman Kevin Pietersen, who has been ruled out of participating in the series by England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss because of “trust issues”.
“Look, apparently, he’s unavailable for selection, so that’s all I know at this stage,” Bayliss said.
“He is a good batter but at this stage he is unavailable, so that’s all I know.”