Trevor Bayliss - World Cup win and growth of Ben Stokes key successes of England reign
By David Ruse
Last Updated: 23/09/19 5:53pm
Cheerio, it is then, to Trevor Bayliss, with his floppy hat, hard exterior and indelible mark on English white-ball cricket.
The Australian's four-year tenure as head coach has ended with England as World Cup champions and fourth in the Test rankings. A fair reflection.
As Joe Root said during a glowing tribute at the end of the fifth Ashes Test, Bayliss has been "phenomenal" for England in the shortest forms, revolutionising their limited-overs cricket.
This was a brittle side that played timorous cricket in the 2015 World Cup.
Shredded for 123 by New Zealand in Wellington before Brendon McCullum thumped 77 from 25 balls to take his side to their target inside 13 overs.
Crushed by Sri Lanka, drummed by Australia and then beaten by Bangladesh as they were dumped out in the group stage in dismal fashion.
Now, though, this is a side that has plundered the two highest ODI scores of all time, twice broken the record for the most sixes in an innings, and sits proudly atop the ICC one-day rankings. Cowed in 2015, wowed since.
Bayliss, in his self-deprecating style, will say it is all about the players - the ice-cool captain Eoin Morgan, the extraordinary Jos Buttler, the talisman Ben Stokes, to name but three.
But his skill of allowing his men to play with freedom, to not fear failure and to push the "ceiling" of what is possible has played a key role in England turning from also-rans to trailblazers in coloured kit.
Let's not forget that if it were not for a pretty average final four overs against Australia at Trent Bridge last summer they could have become the first side to trump 500 in an ODI.
That is a score they can only dream about in Test cricket, where collapses have been far more prevalent than colossal totals and they have only hit 400 or more 16 times in 112 innings.
Fifty-eight all out in Auckland. 77 all out in Barbados. Then, this summer alone, 85 all out against Ireland and 67 all out against Australia.
Those slumps have added to the notion that England have, if not gone backwards under Bayliss in red-ball cricket, then certainly plateaued. The problems he inherited are achingly similar to the ones he is leaving behind.
In 2015, England were struggling to nail a top-order partnership, had issues in the middle, were over-reliant on a few players, and were hunting for a world-class spinner. Sound familiar?
Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Stuart Broad and James Anderson were the glue of the team back then - alongside the now-retired Sir Alastair Cook - and remain so, albeit that Anderson's summer was severely hampered by a calf injury that limited him to just four Ashes overs.
Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali are still in or around the side and have had their moments but they have not turned into fulcrums, often bouncing up and down the order and between roles to plug the latest hole, with their best positions debated ad nauseam.
Should Bairstow keep wicket or play as a specialist batsman - and, on current form, play at all? Is Moeen a front-line spinner? Is Buttler a top-six batsman or a luxury at No 7?
Root, too, has veered between his preferred berth of No 4 and taking one for the team by batting at No 3. Not that it has often mattered, with England frequently two down early on anyway.
Bayliss' reign will be tarnished by the fact England have gone through more openers than Chelsea and Watford have managers; that none of the players to debut under him have cemented places in the side and that they have been gubbed overseas by India (4-0), Australia (4-0) and Pakistan (2-0), as well as slipped up in New Zealand (1-0) and West Indies (2-1).
Yet, if batsmen turn up to international cricket with technical deficiencies, is it really fair to expect Bayliss to transform them?
Refine, of course. Chat to, without doubt. But surely an international coach's purpose is man-management, cajoling his players and getting them in the right frame of mind to perform, not pick apart flaws that should have been fixed at the level below.
The players themselves must take responsibility as well, something Rory Burns has done this summer, tweaking his game after a poor Test against Ireland and then again to combat Australia's short-ball barrage.
Those crushing away defeats are not all Bayliss' fault either, with selection often bordering on bizarre.
Trying to combat Australia in Australia with no bowlers in the 90mph-speed bracket is akin to entering a war zone with a potato gun, while selecting the slingy Sam Curran over the lofty Broad to open the bowling in the West Indies always looked folly.
Away trips have not always been torrid, though. There was the notable 3-0 win on spinning surfaces in Sri Lanka and also the 2-1 triumph in South Africa.
Sunday's Ashes-tying win at The Oval, meanwhile, ensured England have gone unbeaten in Test series at home under Bayliss, winning six and drawing two. But perhaps his greatest achievement is Stokes' growth.
England's man of the 2019 summer was left out of their 2015 World Cup squad and batted at No 7 during that year's Test tour of the Caribbean. The one when he was saluted by Marlon Samuels.
We should firstly be saluting Paul Farbrace who, as interim coach after Peter Moore's firing, reinstated Stokes to No 6 for the 2015 Test series against New Zealand and was promptly rewarded as Stokes smashed the fastest Test ton at Lord's, from 85 deliveries.
Under Bayliss - a man whom Root says Stokes may mock but respects deeply - he has gone from strength to strength.
There was that swashbuckling 258 in Cape Town in 2016, followed by a ton in Rajkot later that year and then centuries at The Oval and Headingley in 2017 before his much-documented absence from the side.
The Bristol incident threatened to define Stokes' career but it won't now. Those negative headlines have been confined to the rubbish bin, with the all-rounder sure to be remembered by Lord's and Leeds 2019.
The World Cup win at the first venue and then the innings of brain, brawn, composure and class at the latter as his unbeaten 135 extended the Summer of Stokes and kept the Ashes alive - for two weeks at least.
The 2-2 draw in that series means England remain a middling Test team. It is the task of Bayliss' successor to take them from their currently unwanted spot to the top of the world.
It's precisely what Bayliss did with white-ball side - and precisely why he was appointed in the first place. Job done.