England’s assistant coach Paul Farbrace has emerged as the favourite to succeed Trevor Bayliss as England coach after the Australian admitted his sidekick’s appointment as interim coach was designed to give him more experience in the role.
Farbrace, 50, will manage the side for the IT20 matches against Australia and India over the next couple of weeks.
The ECB had originally said the appointment was made to allow Bayliss – who has a contract until September 2019 and has already stated he won’t be renewing it – the time to observe some key individuals in county cricket, but the England coach has now conceded it is more to do with succession planning.
“Andrew Strauss [the director of England cricket] spoke to me six months ago about giving Farby some exposure with the top team,” Bayliss explained. “Everyone knows I won’t be here in September 2019, so what plan Strauss has in mind for that, I don’t know. But I was happy to give Farby the opportunity when he asked me if I’d have any problem with it.
“It’s a good opportunity for him and allows me to watch some county matches. He could definitely do the job. He’s had success doing it before but, like anything, it’s about experience.
“The more you do, the more you work out what works and doesn’t work. This is an opportunity to get that experience with the top team. If that’s what he wants to do, then I’m all for it.”
Bayliss has given Farbrace his full backing but believes it would be beneficial to split the Test and limited overs top job.
“My thought on it would be, yes, let’s split the coaching,” Bayliss said. “It’s close to two [different] teams, anyway. We are constantly having to keep an eye on the players, but there’s burn-out with coaches, too. And, with the coaches being a bit older, maybe it doesn’t take quite so much. We might not be running around out there, but sitting on the balcony you play every shot and bowl every ball.
“I think it will go that way. I don’t know what Straussy has in mind but I wouldn’t be surprised if, in years to come, it did go that way.”
Farbrace temporarily took charge in May 2015 after Peter Moores’ dismissal, which effectively launched an exciting new era for England’s ODI team by beating New Zealand with a more care-free, ambitious approach to batting, passing 400 for the first time in their ODI history and also completing their highest ODI run-chase of 350.
Farbrace, who made 40 first-class appearances for Kent and Middlesex in a modest playing career, also won the World T20 and Asia Cup in 2014 whilst coaching Sri Lanka.
Bayliss, who will be observing several limited overs county matches plus the remaining Lions fixtures over the next few weeks, has also claimed that Somerset spinner Jack Leach will “obviously come back into calculations” for the Test squad if he is “fit and raring to go”.
The England coach has also backed Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes to be fit to return for the England-India series in August, with the former expected to make a T20 appearance for Durham in the coming days.