Manchester - It seems there's a simple answer to the woes of
England's national sports teams: Hire an Australian as its coach.
For proof, check out the recent fortunes of England in rugby and cricket.
England's rugby team was humiliated at its own World Cup last
year, becoming the first host to fail to get out of the pool stage. Eddie
Jones, a brash, say-it-like-it-is Tasmanian, was hired in November and five
months later, England is back as Europe's top side after winning a Grand Slam
in the Six Nations.
Similarly, English cricket was in a mess early in 2015 after a
group-stage elimination at the 50-over World Cup, which included an
embarrassing loss to Bangladesh. Enter Trevor Bayliss, an unassuming New South
Walian whose calm presence behind the scenes has helped England win
back-to-back test series against Australia and South Africa and then reach the
final of the Twenty20 World Cup.
Jones and Bayliss have gone about reviving their new teams in very
different ways, but the results have been successful. And one word seems to
stand out when assessing the biggest characteristic the Australians have
"He makes us believe how good we can be," England rugby
star Mike Brown said of Jones after the team completed a first Grand Slam in 13
And it doesn't stop there when it comes to the Australian coaching
takeover in England. In February, Wayne Bennett — arguably the world's greatest
rugby league coach in a generation — was hired to lead England's national team.
With Bennett being a die-hard Queenslander, the appointment came
as a shock in rugby league circles, and already he's made it abundantly clear
where his roots lie.
When asked if he would be singing the English national anthem
before games, Bennett responded: "I won't be singing God Save the Queen:
That has not proved to be an issue for the 56-year-old Jones, who
belted out the anthem ahead of his first game in charge of England — the Six
Nations opener against fierce rival Scotland at Murrayfield. England won that
game, and the rest against Italy, Ireland, Wales and France to win the Six
There appear to be many secrets to Jones's success: Honesty with
his players, freshness of ideas, playing to the team's strengths and treating
his squad like adults. That includes letting the players have beers together.
"The whole environment has changed," England prop Mako
Vunipola said. "There has been a lot more emphasis on team bonding .
having a beer was part of it, but we went out to the cinema and did other
things as well."
It contrasts with the school-teacher approach taken by Jones'
predecessor, Stuart Lancaster. Both are authoritarians in their own right, but
the message of Jones — England's first overseas rugby coach — seems to be
getting across better.
While Jones' next task will be beating his native Australia in a
three-test series in June, Bayliss' is more immediate.
England will look to become the first two-time winner of the T20
World Cup when it plays the final on Sunday, and don't expect Bayliss to be
getting carried away.
He works in the shadows and is barely noticed, compared to the
in-your-face style of Jones. During the T20 tournament in India, Bayliss has
been seen sitting at the back of the dugout during matches, leaning back with
his arms folded.
"Bayliss is cool and calm," former England captain
Michael Vaughan wrote in The Daily Telegraph on Thursday. "And only speaks
when he needs to."
Bayliss, 53, prefers to shun the media or gamesmanship, whereas
Jones uses media conferences as an opportunity to ruffle opponents or make a
point to referees.
Bayliss' approach has been all about giving his players freedom
and belief to do their own thing and make their own choices. And it's working,
transforming England's fortunes in limited-overs cricket. Test cricket is still
king in England, but Bayliss has ensured T20 and the one-day format share a
place in the limelight.
After guiding England to the world T20 semi-finals, Bayliss was
asked if he could at least appreciate a sense of satisfaction among England
"That might be the difference between Australia and
England," he said with a smile.
Of the big team sports in England, only soccer has been left
untouched by the hands of Australian coaches.
Watch out, Roy Hodgson.