Trevor Bayliss, the England coach, is adamant his team must stay true to their attacking instincts in the forthcoming World Twenty20 in India despite their spectacular batting implosion against South Africa at The Wanderers on Sunday.
England were hammered by nine wickets after they collapsed from 157 for 3 to 171 all out in just 21 balls.
That total never looked defendable on a road of a pitch and at high altitude. So it proved as, led by AB de Villiers’ stunning innings of 71 from 29 balls, South Africa cruised to their target in 14.4 overs.
The bruising nature of the reverse not only put the chances of Eoin Morgan’s team in the World T20, which begins in a fortnight, in stark perspective but extended their run of defeats in limited-overs cricket to five matches after the final three games of the recent one-day series and the first of these T20s in Cape Town on Friday were also lost.
On each of those occasions England batted first and were undone by the aggression that had helped them transform themselves as a limited-overs unit since last winter’s meek first-round exit from the 50-over World Cup.
However, even though they were humiliated on Sunday, Bayliss has called on his players to continue being bold. “I can guarantee you one thing, the team that wins the World T20 will be the boldest team there,” said the Australian. “They will be the team that goes out and plays good, positive, aggressive cricket.
“If we go out and try to be too nice or if we are not as positive and aggressive as we have been when we have played well and won, then we will still not win because there will be teams out there with the confidence, players and ability to go out and play that way.”
Bayliss has often delved into semantics when questioned over exactly what he means by “being bold” and, contrary to popular belief, it does not mean trying to smash every ball out of the ground.
“Yes, these guys have got to learn to play good cricket shots,” he admitted. “I thought in the last game we were trying to hit too many balls into the top of the stand.
“India will be a perfect example where it is smaller grounds and perfect outfields, and all you have to do is play good cricket shots and keep your shape.”
One man guilty of trying to smash every ball into the top of the stands is Jason Roy. The Surrey opener has been a key part of the team’s renaissance in short-form cricket. But Bayliss hinted the more refined approach of James Vince, man of the series when England whitewashed Pakistan 3-0 in their previous T20 series in the Emirates last November, may be called upon in India.
“He was very unlucky to miss out on these two T20s,” said Bayliss. “He is right there or thereabouts, that is for sure, and I am sure he will come into our calculations.”
Steven Finn will return to the team in India after recovering from a side strain and Bayliss is confident a bowling attack that was so brutally exposed by South Africa on Sunday can prosper on slower, subcontinental pitches.
“Our bowling attack will be better suited to Indian conditions if it is spinning and slower balls come into the calculation,” he said. “Those types of bowlers could come into their own in India.”
England, who start their World T20 campaign against West Indies in Bombay on 16 March, do not have long to find out whether Bayliss’s confidence is misplaced or not.