Trevor Bayliss has only been in the England coaching hot seat for six weeks but it was long enough to plot Australia’s downfall and regain the Ashes.
After being persuaded to swap Sydney for London by England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss in May, the former NSW coach only met his new players less than two weeks before the opening Test in Cardiff.
A four-day trip to Spain allowed Bayliss the chance to get to know skipper Alastair Cook.
In that time he has helped transform England, who are unrecognisable when compared to the team held to a 1-1 draw by a mediocre West Indies outfit in April under former coach Peter Moores.
That same Windies team were brushed aside 2-0 with the minimum of fuss by Australia ahead of this series and Darren Lehmann’s men were widely expected to do the same to Cook’s side and win a first Ashes on British soil since 2001.
But under the undemonstrative Bayliss, whose relaxed approach and insistence on allowing players to figure out their own game, a youthful England team have flourished.
“If the coach is showing his emotions then and making comments that aren’t necessarily helpful it just makes the players even more nervous,” Bayliss said.
“They are already nervous and don’t need that negative feel from others as well. If the support staff are calm it allows them to be free of extra pressure.”
Cook, whose captaincy in the past has been described as negative – most vocally by Australian great Shane Warne, has also benefited.
England’s record run scorer admitted after the fourth Test victory at Trent Bridge that he’d been too stubborn early in his career and a declaration 10 minutes before lunch on day two was a tell-tale sign of Bayliss’ influence.
But it was his inside knowledge of the Australia NSW players such as Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood that really helped England.
All four players had their moments during the series, but only in flashes, and Bayliss revealed he’d discussed at length the strengths and weaknesses of the Australian side.
“We sat down in Spain and had a bit of a chat and I gave them a little bit of background and my thoughts,” Bayliss said.
“I don’t know everything there is to know about the game of cricket, but Cook, (James) Anderson, (Stuart) Broad, (Ian) Bell have played against these guys more than I have.
“Sometimes when you play with them you don’t necessarily think of their weaknesses so a lot of senior players had a lot to do with it.
“I asked a lot of questions of them, how they would bowl to certain players and suggested one or two things and all credit to them they’ve done a fantastic job.”