Australian Trevor Bayliss, who won the World Cup with England, is the “in-house favourite” to take over from Justin Langer if the incumbent is punted this year, according to a media report on Wednesday.
The Guardian says Bayliss, a former NSW player and coach who spent four years at the helm of England until 2019, “is the preferred candidate to be the next head coach among the current support staff and senior players after a 12-month period that has delivered on-field success yet seen Langer’s methods questioned behind the scenes”.
Langer’s contract is due to expire after the tour of Pakistan in March. Senior players Pat Cummins and Steve Smith were recently reluctant to talk up their coach after Langer said he would be aiming to extend his deal.
Reports of player dissatisfaction at the 51-year-old’s intense and volatile style first surfaced after the 2-1 defeat by India last year. Cricket Australia released a statement in August backing the head coach, who then went on to win the T20 World Cup and wrap up the Ashes in 12 days.
“We’ll all sit down together after this series or whenever his tenure is up,” said Cummins recently. “His contract is up for renewal in a few months and we’ll deal with that then.”
Langer’s assistant Andrew McDonald is seen by many in Australian cricket as the likely successor to Langer.
But the Guardian claims: “Over the course of the current Ashes series a belief has grown in the set-up that the more experienced Bayliss would serve as an ideal immediate successor to Langer given a track record of setting up relaxed, player-led environments.”
Stokes should be stood down: Hussain
Ben Stokes has expressed his desire to play as a specialist batsman in Hobart after suffering a side strain in Sydney.
Stokes, writing in The Mirror, said a late call will be made regarding his appearance in England’s XI.
He said bowling will not be possible after picking up an injury which he described as “agony” and “what surgery without the anaesthetic feels like”.
“The big question now is whether I can play in the final game as a batsman or not,” Stokes wrote.
“I’m not going to say definitively just yet because there are still a few days to go and we need to see how I respond to the treatment, but what I will say is that I want to play.
“If it is a question of playing through a bit of pain, I know it is not going to be as bad as it was in Sydney and I got through that okay. But there are other things to consider such as the West Indies tour to come and the likelihood of doing more damage.”
Former England captain Nasser Hussain urged England to leave Stokes out.
“I don’t think there is a price of Stokes bowling – and can your valuable asset play just as a batter, grimacing after every ball?” Hussain said on the Sky Sports’ cricket podcast.
“He would want to, he’ll be desperate to, you know what he is like. But, in football, would a manager start a player who is carrying an injury?
“I don’t think you should in professional sport, however much the lad wants to play. If he is not fit, I would leave him out.”
Zak Crawley says England’s batting woes in the Ashes will not change until the standard of pitches in county cricket is improved.
Crawley, 23, produced an impressive 77 in the second innings at Sydney this week.
He rose to prominence with a career-best 267 against Pakistan in 2020, but had just 173 runs at 10.81 in 16 innings in 2021.
“I’ve batted on poor pitches, really, my whole Championship career,” Crawley told reporters in Hobart, ahead of Friday’s fifth Test. “I feel like it’s been very hard to open the batting.
“At my best, I’ve obviously shown something the England selectors have enjoyed. So I got picked with an average of 30, but there aren’t too many openers averaging a lot more than that at the moment.
“The pitches have been very favourable to bowlers my whole career so far so until that changes… I feel like the average is a little bit lower than I’d like. I think 34-35 is a very good average for an opener these days, and that’s something that’s very different from 10 years ago.”
Next steps for Aussies
Cricket Australia want players to have regular exposure to spin-friendly conditions as they move closer to locking in a Pakistan tour that will start a testing subcontinent stretch, reports AAP.
Cummins side has been given a preliminary security briefing regarding their trip to Pakistan in March.
It is the greatest sign yet that Cricket Australia (CA) will back up its words with actions, rubber-stamping the nation’s first cricket tour of Pakistan since 1998.
CA is yet to press players and staff for a final answer regarding their availability.
But that will come soon after this summer’s Ashes, with selectors already drawing up plans for who should feature in the three-Test series.
“It’s a matter of getting information out to the players and staff, giving them time to think about it and come back with questions etc,” selector Tony Dodemaide said.
“We expect that’ll play out over the next couple of weeks or so.”
A schedule squeeze could force Australia to split players between Test and white-ball squads, as has been the case in recent years.
Security arrangements, the timing of this year’s IPL, relations between Pakistan and India, bubble fatigue and the COVID-19 pandemic are set to be among several factors on players’ minds.
It shapes as a pivotal trip in several senses after Australia, boosted by their Ashes dominance, started strongly in pursuit of the next world Test championship final.
Australia’s hopes of featuring in the 2023 final may hinge on tours of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India during the next 15 months.
The side has struggled on the subcontinent in the past 10 years, while their preparation for this stretch has been poorer than usual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We haven’t had a whole lot of exposure recently,” Dodemaide said, revealing plans for an Australia A tour of Sri Lanka this year.
“We’re very conscious of making sure that opportunities are there … to give our players, particularly our younger players, that exposure.
“We know that it is challenging going to the subcontinent.
“If you’re going to be an international player for a long period of time, you do have to be adaptable and not just a specialist on particular wickets.”
The problem is compounded by the SCG no longer being a spinner’s paradise, having recently scotched uncapped leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson’s hopes of debuting.
“I’m really keen to get to know all the groundsmen around Australia, so we can work with them more and see how we can get those varying characteristics around the country,” Dodemaide said.
“Not just on the basis of preparing players for subcontinent tours.
“Test cricket is always enhanced when there are very different conditions in different parts of the country. “