Bayliss can give England insight into the Australian way - McGrath
Glenn McGrath says he is hoping to see a "little more aggression" from England, especially after the appointment of Australian Trevor Bayliss as the new coach. Speaking exclusively to ESPNcricinfo, McGrath said England have to be careful not to adopt a "conservative approach" as they have tended to under captain Alastair Cook and said he expected Bayliss to give "insight into the Australian way" to players under his tutelage.
"Michael Clarke is a very good captain. He thinks on his feet and can adapt very quickly," McGrath said. "It comes down from the coach to Michael Clarke to the rest of the team. Cook, on the other hand, is a little bit more conservative. Andy Flower was there and they had a more conservative approach. I always felt that they waited for the other team to make a mistake. If the other team is playing well, it doesn't always work.
"When I first started playing for New South Wales, Trevor Bayliss was in the team and a middle-order batsman. He played very well and was very successful. Since he has moved to the coaching role he has done well with New South Wales. Sydney Sixers won the Big Bash League, Kolkata Knight Riders won the Indian Premier League under him. He is a very good coach and a very good man manager.
"We will see the impact he can have on the English system because the way the Australians do it is different to how others team do it. But there have been a few Australian coaches in the past who have been quite successful elsewhere. Maybe he will add a little more and bring something new to the table; spice it up a little bit or give an insight into the Australian way. It could benefit England."
The presence of an Australian coach, however, hasn't changed McGrath's mind about the outcome of the series. He is convinced Australia are overwhelming favourites to win their first Ashes series in England after a decade when the teams face-off in a five-match series starting on July 8 in Cardiff. In what has now become virtually a patented statement ahead of any marquee series involving Australia, McGrath predicted a 5-0 whitewash for Michael Clarke's men over the summer.
"Australia have been playing some very good cricket. You look at the World Cup, it was ODIs but it has an influence," McGrath said. "They have been playing very good Test cricket. If you look back to the last Ashes, they were so dominant. England, on the other hand, are struggling a bit. Miserable World Cup and they lost the other day to New Zealand. So, I was predicting 5-0 to Australia but they are already sitting at 5-0 after the last Ashes series. So, it is going to be 10-0."
Having seen Australia's bowling unit, in particular the pace attack, operate in recent months, McGrath is convinced that the side has "all bases covered" going into the series. According to McGrath, this "variety" in Australia's attack could well be the differentiating factor between the teams in the series.
"They are playing with a lot of confidence," he said. "You have a couple of left-handers and Ryan Harris who is a quality bowler; Josh Hazlewood is tall and hits the deck and gets good bounce. There is enough variety there. There is always something different. Even Mitchell Johnson's bowling compared to Mitchell Starc is different. If you have four bowlers that are very similar, the batsmen can get used to it. There is enough variety there. There is enough pace as well as experience along with the young guys coming through. I think Australia has every base covered."
McGrath himself enjoyed a stellar Ashes career, taking 157 wickets in 30 Tests at an average of under 21. In fact, his record in England was even better, with 87 wickets coming at an average of just 19.34 in 14 Tests, including as many as 8 five wicket hauls. He put that success down to bowling with the Duke ball in England that, he explained, favoured seam bowling more than the Kookaburra used in Australia.
"I have great memories playing against them in Australia but also England," he said. "The difference is the Duke cricket ball which feels different to the Kookaburra. It has a bigger seam and every time I have used it, I have averaged over six wickets per test and four for the Kookaburra. It does make a big difference. English conditions suited my style of bowling."
The leader of England's attack in the series will be James Anderson, who only recently became the first English bowler to go past 400 Test wickets. Although Anderson averages a none-too-impressive 36.96 for his 77 wickets in 23 Tests against Australia, McGrath believes the statistics don't paint the correct picture of his value to England.
"He bowls better at home," McGrath said. "He is a quality bowler but his stats don't reflect how good he is. We will wait and see. If the ball is not swinging, I think James Anderson struggles a little bit. He needs that ball swinging and then gets reverse swing. If England are to be competitive, then Anderson will really need to put his hand up."
Gaurav Kalra is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo. @gauravkalra75