Paul Farbrace will jump at the chance to replace Trevor Bayliss as England coach if it is offered next year – and has demonstrated once more he is prepared to make bold calls in office.
Farbrace’s brief stint in sole charge, while Bayliss sits out the Twenty20 against Australia and three against India, will begin with a fresh beginning for Jos Buttler – as opener alongside Jason Roy at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
That call has been made in conjunction with Bayliss and England’s selectors, but it takes effect nonetheless on Farbrace’s watch.
As England seek to add Twenty 20 ‘Ashes’ supremacy to their 5-0 one-day international whitewash of Australia, the deployment of Buttler and Roy together – with Alex Hales to bat at three – may soon bring further high-profile consequences.
Joe Root’s continued first-choice Twenty20 involvement is one example – while Hales is perhaps no longer a certainty in the format which helped to make his name, once Ben Stokes returns from injury to put an extra squeeze on an already jam-packed line-up.
Farbrace’s track record suggests he will not be afraid of those judgements, having promoted Stokes to number six in the Test line-up and overseen England’s ODI revolution during his previous temporary tenure in 2015.
As for his readiness to replace Bayliss when the Australian steps aside in September next year, Farbrace is not dodging the most pertinent question.
“Of course,” he said. “If (England and Wales cricket Board director Andrew) Strauss said we want to offer you the job, or split it (between formats) and me look after one of the teams, it would be so difficult to say no to that – it really would.
“If come next September … I ended up being offered the position that would be great.”
Root’s Twenty20 position, for the first time in his career, is one of those which may come under pressure.
Asked if there is a chance the sprint format may have moved past England’s most reliable and adaptable batsman, Farbrace conceded the possibility but went on to provide a robust defence of the Yorkshireman’s credentials.
He said: “Yes, there is… but this series of four games in 10 days is a great opportunity.
“I think (Joe) is thoroughly looking forward to playing in them.
“His (83) in the World Cup in Mumbai was as good as any T20 innings we have seen in the last few years.
“You don’t have to keep hitting sixes – you can hit fours as well – and Rooty has shown he is quite capable of hitting boundaries. You don’t want everyone playing the same way.”
Buttler’s elevation to a position he has filled just once previously – with a man-of-the-match half-century against Sri Lanka two years ago – was a decision reached by committee.
“Trev, (captain Eoin Morgan) and myself had a chat yesterday – and the selection meeting the week before – it was something they talked about there.
“(Jos) has shown just how good a player he is.
“My view is that with 120 balls you need your best players facing as many balls as possible.
“This idea of people being finishers, I don’t necessarily agree with.”
That is the batting order sorted in the immediate term then.
But Farbrace does not need reminding selection is about to become even tougher once Stokes is back.
“You need to get your best players in … there is danger when you have six quality batters in your top six, you are almost wasting a batter,” he added.
“Once you start with the batting order, the chances are you’ll stick with the same group of players – then maybe Ben coming in towards the end of it.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Buttler was a leading presence in the Indian Premier League earlier this year after being moved to the top of the order, equaling a record of five successive half-centuries in the competition.
He has usually batted in the middle-order in the sprint format with England although his highest T20 international score of 73 not out came as an opener – against Sri Lanka in 2016.
And Paul Farbrace, standing in for head coach Trevor Bayliss for this clash and the three T20s against India that follow, said of Buttler: “He will open tomorrow.
“You want to get your best strikers facing as many balls as possible. The form he’s in, the way he’s playing, it makes sense to get him at the top of the order.”
FINCH IN CHARGE
Meanwhile, Australia will be looking to put the ODI series whitewash behind them when they take the field under the captaincy of Aaron Finch.
Tim Paine is not a part of the T20 squad and Alex Carey will take up the role of wicketkeeper and vice-captain.
Australia are the No2 ranked T20 team and will hope for a much improved effort.
Alex Carey says Australia can bounce back from their one-day series defeat by England and will go into their standalone T20I at Edgbaston on Wednesday aiming to top the international T20 rankings.
Carey, who played in the final two ODIs of the series as a specialist batsmen, will take on both the wicketkeeping duties and the vice-captaincy under Aaron Finch for the match and said it was important for Australia to finish what has been a difficult tour of England with a win.
“Absolutely, losing 5-0 is not acceptable for the Australian cricket team,” Carey said earlier. “We don’t want that result ever again. Our T20 is going really well, we’re second in the world at the moment and we want to go one better. And we come up against Pakistan in a week’s time as well.”
While it can’t be said with certainty whether Buttler can run a country or not, there is no doubt about his abilities with a bat in hand.
In the fifth and final ODI against Australia, England were dead and buried at 114-8 chasing 206 for victory and a 5-0 series sweep.
Buttler had spinner Adil Rashid for company and even though the leggie has three international fifties, the pitch in Manchester and a rejuvenated Australian bowling attack meant hopes were not high in the England camp.
But Buttler kept going. Hitting 12 fours and one six, the wicketkeeper batsman notched up a fine 110 not out from 122 balls to secure a tense one-wicket, seal the whitewash and establish himself as the one of the biggest match-winners in the game at the moment.
In his last 14 innings, Buttler has amassed 864 runs at an average of 108 with 10 fifty-plus knocks. That run includes five consecutive fifties in the Indian Premier League, a series leveling 80 not out against Pakistan in the Leeds Test and three unbeaten fifty plus knocks against Australia in the ODIs.
His century on Sunday was by far the slowest of his six ODI tons. But given the context of the match and conditions, it was one of his finest in England colours.
Eoin Morgan’s team are the number one ODI side in the world and the clear favourites to lift their maiden 50-over world title at home next year. If Buttler continues to bat the way he is right now, it’s difficult to pick any side that can stop England.