Cricket: Cook delighted with coach ‘coup’

Alastair Cook bats in the nets ahead of the second Test at Headingley which starts today. Picture: PA

Alastair Cook bats in the nets ahead of the second Test at Headingley which starts today. Picture: PA

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Alastair Cook believes England have pulled off a “great coup” by hiring highly experienced Australian Trevor Bayliss for their coaching role ahead of this summer’s Ashes series.

Bayliss was unveiled as Peter Moores’ replacement on Tuesday and will take over from Paul Farbrace, who will drop back down to assistant, in time to face his compatriots in July and August.

As a former Sri Lanka, Kolkata Knight Riders and New South Wales coach, Bayliss has an array of worldwide experience across all three formats, but it is the insight he may be able to give into the Australian dressing room that could prove pivotal.

Speaking ahead of the second Test against New Zealand which starts today at Headingley, Cook said: “Trevor’s experienced in all forms of the game. He’s a successful coach. Everywhere he’s gone he’s been successful. His one-day record is very good as well, so it will be interesting to hear his ideas on that side.

“It’s obviously for England a great coup to have him in terms of his experience, certainly of Australian players, but just of the world game as well.

“I think the guys are looking forward to him turning up, getting to meet him and seeing what he says about things.”

Cook added: “I don’t really know him that well. I played against his Sri Lankan team, but everyone I’ve spoken to about him – I had a beer with [New Zealand captain] Brendon [McCullum] and the New Zealand guys after the Test match – and they spoke very highly of him as well.”

For now, Cook’s sights are firmly set on securing another victory over New Zealand after going 1-0 up in the Investec series following a 124-run victory at Lord’s.

It was a thrilling display from England and one sorely needed following the off-field handling of the Moores sacking and the decision to leave Kevin Pietersen in international exile.

Cook added: “It was a fantastic week at Lord’s. It was just a really good week for everyone. As I said at the end of the game, it was a rocky couple of weeks for England off the field. We’re still in limbo until Trevor turns up but the way Paul has taken the side, he has done a fantastic job.

“The challenge for us players is can we back up a great performance, especially the last three days of that Test match, at Headingley and try and win the series?”

Joe Root has been in prolific form for England in the Test arena, hitting 98 and 84 in his two innings at Lord’s, and the Yorkshire batsman will hope to continue that rich vein in his home Test this week.

Newly-appointed as vice-captain, 24-year-old Root has passed 50 in eight of his last ten Test innings – including two big unbeaten hundreds. Asked if he has surprised even himself, he said: “A little bit. It’s just nice to know that all the work I’m doing in practice and preparation is coming off.”

His most recent success coincided uncannily with a double-century, in a Yorkshire League match, for his little brother Billy – who is on Nottinghamshire’s books.

“I don’t think he’s played recently,” said Root, expecting to hear again soon of more runs from his younger sibling. “I’m sure he will be straight on the phone making sure I know about it. Growing up, there has been a slight rivalry between us, but I think that has helped me to get where I am, having someone kicking at my heels all the time, making sure I’m improving.”

He still appears to be – as does Ben Stokes, on the evidence of his brilliant match-winning performance at Lord’s.

New Zealand-born Stokes helped to transform the first Test, but the tourists hope they will be able to becalm him in Leeds.

“He’s a very aggressive player, likes to come out and play his shots and hits it cleanly,” said Kiwi opener Martin Guptill.

“We’ll come up with some plans to be able to counter that this week.”

Guptill believes the current New Zealand team have it in them not just to tame Stokes, but to claim a series draw.

“We’re pretty confident we can come out and square the series, and come away pretty happy,” he said.

“On the last day [at Lord’s], we just didn’t quite get the batting right.

“We’re going to come out this week firing, and hope to rectify that.”

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