Investec Ashes 2015 June 25, 2015

Bayliss begins 14-day Ashes countdown

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The first Australian ever to coach England, Trevor Bayliss is scheduled to arrive at Heathrow on Thursday less than a fortnight before the start of the Investec Ashes series. The pre-Ashes clamour is growing, the hype and the anxiety are there for all to see, but it is a sure fire bet that the Australian alighting from the plane at Heathrow will look calmer than most.

He is an unthreatening type, the sort who will be waved through at customs with barely a second glance. He might be taken perhaps for an Australian estate agent which is no surprise because four years ago, in a brief interruption to his coaching career, he was precisely that. He is well qualified then to complain about London house prices.

In Bayliss and his assistant Paul Farbrace, England have assembled a coaching team committed to creating a relaxed environment. After the stern outlook of Andy Flower and the caffeine-loaded organisation of Peter Moores, cricket's Chuckle Brothers are in town, committed to reminding highly-pressurised international cricketers that to relish their job, and play accordingly, is paramount.

When Bayliss was in negotations with Andrew Strauss, director of England cricket, shortly after a World Cup debacle, relaxing England seemed a challenging task. Things were so bad it seemed worth giving mass Reiki healing a go. But after a pleasurable Test series against New Zealand, capped by an extraordinarily free-spirited one-day series, Farbrace has already tilled the ground for the harvest he hopes will follow.

"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 said at Sydney airport. "I'm confident of putting up a good show and if they play some good cricket they'll be a chance of winning."

Bayliss has street cred. He might have coached a multitude of teams, but it has brought him along the way an impressive list of trophies: the Sheffield Shield with New South Wales, the IPL as coach of Kolkata Knight Riders, the Big Bash and the Champions League Twenty20. He could not quite break Sri Lanka's habit of perennial near misses, but here, too, there were two losing limited-overs finals and a Test ranking of No 2.

He has recent inside knowledge on many Australia players thanks to a short-term assignmen last November when he stood in as coach for Darren Lehmann for a Test against Pakistan in the UAE and a Twenty20 against South Africa at home two days later.

"Players are under enough pressure as it is and they don't need the coach shoving it down their throats or getting angry:"

He said at the time: "Players at this level are good players: that's why they get selected, so it's about creating a good, honest, hard-working environment, and that allows the players to function without being under extra pressure to perform or not to make mistakes. That type of environment allows the players to use the skills they've got."

"To me yelling at players or being angry at players is just making things worse. If you're in the dressing room throwing things and going off your head, that just makes the environment even more edgy. Players are under enough pressure as it is and they don't need the coach shoving it down their throats or getting angry: that doesn't help anyone."

"My whole mode of operating is trying to get the guys to play good cricket by taking pressure off them - they're under enough pressure as it is to perform and do well - and about combinations," he says. "Whether we've had the right combinations over the last few years in T20 stuff is debatable."

If planning is one of the hallmarks of a good England coach then Bayliss has made a good start: he got the obligatory Kevin Pietersen question out of the way at Sydney airport before catching his flight to Heathrow to take up his role as England coach.

"Look, apparently, he's unavailable for selection, so that's all I know at this stage," he said. "He is a good batter but at this stage he is unavailable, so that's all I know."

His priority will be to build a relationship not just with Strauss but with England's Test captain, Alastair Cook, before leaving for Spain at the weekend for a pre-Ashes camp. He only knows Eoin Morgan, the one-day captain, who played under him at Kolkata Knight Riders. There is much discovery to achieve elsewhere.

The last time England went abroad before a home Ashes series in 2009 involved a visit to the Flanders war memorials, an occasion when Andrew Flintoff missed the team bus after a roistering night. Flower preferred to survival training camps before trips to Australia in 2010-11 and again three years later.

This time there will be getting-to-know you chats, discussions about how England wish to play their cricket, interspersed with a bit of golf.

Trevor Bayliss chats with the media before leaving Sydney airport © Getty Images

At some point, England will discuss sledging. The New Zealand series was relished by many players and supporters alike for its virtual absence. Australia have a different culture. England respond in kind; New Zealand now choose to disdain it. So what will Bayliss conclude?

James Anderson was heavily criticised for his spat with Ravindra Jadeja in the Test series against India last summer. In the last Ashes series, he became such a hate figure among the Australians that Michael Clarke told him to "prepare for a broken arm." He used to believe that he needed to sledge to break out of his passive nature. Now he is not so sure.

"We'll chat about it as a team - what is the right way to go about it," Anderson said on a visit to his former school, Blessed Trinity RC Secondary in Burnley as a Chance to Shine ambassador. "Whether we completely ignore them or try to get under their skin. It's important that whatever we do, we do as a group."

Over to you, Trevor.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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