Trevor Bayliss admitted he “didn’t have the answer” to England’s Ashes struggles, but insisted he was still the man to take the team forward.
Bayliss, England coach since 2015, accepted England had been “outplayed” and that senior players “hadn’t done as well as they would have liked.”
But while he accepted England had struggled overseas – they have no lost their last seven away Tests and their last eight in Australia – he pointed to England’s success at home as proof of the progress the team has been making.
“We’ve played extremely well during the English summer,” Bayliss said. “But in conditions away from home that don’t necessarily suit us, we need to be better and we need to get more experience. We’ve just got to get better, whether it’s with the bat or the ball, especially in foreign conditions.
“I think I’m the right man to lead the team forward. I think our performances have been pretty good over the last couple of years. We won every series during the English summer.
“But it’s for people above my pay grade to make the decision about my future, so we’ll leave it up to them.”
Accepting that senior players had underperformed – Alastair Cook is averaging 13.83 with the bat in the series and Stuart Broad 61.80 with the ball; Moeen Ali is averaging 19.33 with the bat and 105.33 with the ball – Bayliss suggested there will be few changes before the end of the series.
“I haven’t given any thought whatsoever to making changes,” he said. “We’ll have to see how these last couple of games in the series go.
“There are a few guys disappointed with how they have gone and guys who haven’t done as well as they would have liked. As for Alastair Cook he has played the game for long enough and will know when it’s time to go.
“I wish I knew why they have underperformed. But they know the consequences of not playing well. They are all extremely good international cricketers and I expect them to come back from this. But you need to have guys putting their name up in lights to take over.”
A key point of difference between the teams was, Bayliss felt, the pace of the Australian attack. While they were able to extract steep bounce form each surface, the England attack sought lateral movement that they could rarely find. As a result, they had few weapons with which to make inroads into the Australian batting.
“The Australian bowling attack has been fantastic,” Bayliss said. “With a little bit of extra pace you have a few more things up your sleeve, especially on wickets that haven’t got a lot of sideways movement in them. All credit to them, they’ve played well and deserved a win.
“That extra pace helped, but you’ve also got to be skilful with it. You have to put the ball in the right areas and get the ball to move. They’ve been able to do that as well.
“As for us if you haven’t got those sort of fast bowlers, you haven’t got them. You’ve got to go with the best players you have. And the guys we do have are world-class in batting and bowling.The challenge for us has been in these conditions. There’s a little bit of extra bounce and a little less sideways movement.
“Why don’t we have fast bowlers? I haven’t got the answers. Maybe it is because conditions in England don’t suit fast bowling. If the wickets are responsive to fast bowling, it gives encouragement to young bowlers to bowl fast. If they’re not, it’s probably the opposite, and discourages young bowlers. The English boys play a lot of cricket, too.
“There are some good young fast bowlers, so how do we encourage them to keep bowling fast and getting better without the wickets being conducive to fast bowling? Do they play too much? Can we keep them fresher? They are questions we have to answer.”
One area Bayliss is keen to improve is the exposure young players get to foreign conditions. But while he expects Australia to limit the opportunities of England players to appear in Shield cricket (the first-class competition in Australia), he suggested the ECB might look at making it equally difficult for Australian players to gain experience of English conditions by signing for one of the first-class counties. It might be noted, however, that Mason Crane, the leg-spinner in the England squad, played for New South Wakes at the end of the previous Shield season.
“Cricket Australia won’t let our players come and play Shield cricket, that’s for sure,” Bayliss said. “So maybe we should look at it the other way, and stop a few Aussie boys going over there to get that experience?”
“A lot of the young batters – the likes of Joe Clarke, Dan Lawrence, Keaton Jennings and Liam Livingstone as well as Haseeb Hameed at home – played well here for the Lions squad. They’re the best young players coming through in England at the moment, so we’ve got to try and get them as much experience in foreign conditions as we can if we want to be successful away from home.”