The Ashes 2015 – The Time I Lived With England’s New Coach, Trevor Bayliss

Trevor Bayliss shares a birthday with his favourite cricketer, another kid from the country, Kevin Douglas Walters. It was the first thing I learnt about the new boarder that came to live with my family in September 1982.

The season before he was the wicket keeper and middle order batsman for the New South Wales Under 19’s. Wanting to further his career in the game, he knew he had to leave his home town of Goulburn and play in the “big smoke.” From a strong family, his parents Ted and Helen wanted to ensure their son would be welcomed into another strong family environment.

My father, Bill, was the President of the Penrith Cricket Club and invited the Bayliss family to our home in Leonay, over dinner it was agreed Trevor would become a Panther and live with the Ball family. Dad organised a job for him in the warehouse of the Royal Australian Navy Missile Maintenance depot at Orchard Hills.

Joining Trevor in the 4th bedroom would be another young batsman with great ability, Brian Wood from Bathurst.

My earliest memory of Bayliss’ play involved him following us in his Datsun 180B (I can still remember the licence plate) for the hour long drive for a Second Grade game against Norths at North Sydney Oval 2. My mother had a habit of hitting the accelerator when she saw amber at the traffic lights, in his first experience of inner Sydney driving, TB had to run a few reds to keep up.

By round four he was promoted to first grade, captained by former Test opener Ian Davis and featured Graeme Beard who recently played two Tests on the tour of Pakistan. Penrith won the First Grade Premiership that year, its second in the first ten years of the Club’s history. Sadly, they’ve not won since. The Final was against Bankstown, a side that featured current Australian opener Steve Smith and a 17 year old Mark Waugh. Steve Waugh was their 12th Man.

That season Trevor and Brian set a record 2nd wicket partnership in the Under 21 Poidevin Gray limited over competition of over 350 as they scored a double hundred and a century respectively. The following year Trevor captained Penrith to a shock win of the Poidevin Gray Shield.

Most of the PG teams from the grade clubs would have 2 or 3 first graders and the rest from 2nd’s and 3rd’s. Bayliss was the only first grader in the Penrith team that year, a few second graders and most from the 3rd and 4th grade teams.

The final was played at Parramatta’s Old Kings Oval against a very strong Randwick side lead by David Knox. Knox was a gifted athlete who would play five eighth for the Wallabies and was part of the World Cup winning squad of 1991. As a cricketer, he was a threatening right arm fast-medium bowler and a batsman who could dominate his opponents. You’d have to do a lot of talking to convince me Shane Watson is a better cricketer, but I’ve been told I’m not the best judge.

Bayliss’ tactical ability is what brought the trophy home. He knew the limitations of the blokes in his own team, but he got the best out of them. He changed the bowlers before they were gotten on top of. He spoke calmly to his batting partners and gave lower grade players the belief that not only can they compete, but the pressure was on the 1st grade heavy Wicks.

Penrith got the winning runs with a couple of wickets and overs in hand. The celebration party was back at our house, the highlights being the phone calls put through to the Randwick Rugby Club, paging David Knox to answer the phone and people asking him by how much did they win? One of the best nights ever.

Mum introduced Trevor to one of her work colleagues, Julie Porter. He soon moved out to share a unit with her at Kingswood, Brian Wood was the Best Man at their wedding and the family still live in the Penrith District. Though since 2007 it’s fair to say Trevor is a travelling citizen of the world.

At the end of the 85/86 season Bayliss was selected for the New South Wales tour of Zimbabwe, he debuted in the second one dayer and scored a half century and, in the second 3-day match at Harare, he was the first player to make his First Class debut for NSW not on Australian soil.

From this moment on, he became an integral part of the “Blues Brothers” as New South Wales dominated domestic cricket in the late 80’s and early 90’s. He played for the Prime Minister’s XI and the Bradman XI against England.

The one time he captained his state in the Shield, he suffered a broken hand. He’d have captained NSW more had it not have been for this injury.

When things got tough for the Panthers and we found ourselves at the wrong end of the ladder, he stayed with the Club in spite of the overtures of his NSW team mates to go to other clubs. He ran the most intense fielding drills at practice. He sought to make fielding a discipline as important as batting and bowling alone.

I remember one day I was on the receiving end of a verbal spray from him. What was it about? I genuinely can’t recall, however it is highly likely I was being a smart arsed back chatting teenager who was most probably deserving of having a strip or three torn off of me.

At the end of his playing days he was employed by the NSWCA as a development officer, going to schools and teaching the game to kids who were happy to be missing class for a couple of hours. He then went onto to be appointed coach of various NSW development teams and Second XI. He replaced Steve Rixon in 2004 and won the Pura Milk Cup in his first year, winning the ING Cup in his second season and losing the Final of the Pura Milk Cup in Hobart in his third year.

In 2007 he was appointed the Sri Lankan national team. He was on the team bus in Lahore when they came under attack in March 2009. I remember seeing the news break on Sky News, moments after it happened. My mum was on the phone crying saying Trevor’s been hurt.

I found an article on CNN which said team players and officials had been injured in the ambush. I had to ring mum back and told her there is no solid information, it’s too soon after the incident and it’s only speculation. Thankfully Trevor wasn’t injured, but some of his players were.

We were all relieved when mum got a call from Julie to say he’s called home to say he’s okay.

Some are surprised this quietly spoken, country boy has had so much success leading the best players in the game today. Not to those of us who knew him when he first arrived in Sydney. I was just a snotty nosed little nine year old when I first met him, and to be honest, I think that’s how he still views me on the rare occasion I see him whenever he is home.

I’ve always respected him. He is a good man who is devoted to his family and has a knowledge of the game that not many others in the world could manage.

Watching his press conferences, the Fleet Street journos are trying to find the sensational angle to what he has said – but they’ll never find it. He’s too honest and too sensible to worry about sensation. He just wants the blokes in his team to play the best cricket they can.

About Wayne Ball

Tragic fan of the Australian and NSW cricket teams (for those of you outside NSW, there is a difference, despite what David Hookes said). Not a fan of T20. Penrith Panthers are the only club of decency and all which is good in Rugby League, the Waratah's were once the national team of Rugby Union, the first non Victorian team in the VFL/AFL is the Sydney Swans, and they all enjoy my passionate support. Sings for Wanderers. Internationally, I have been to see the Oakland Athletics and Green Bay Packers play. One day, I'll see Norwich City play for the FA Cup at Wembley.


  1. Keiran Croker says

    Lovely insight in to Trevor’s journey to coach of the Poms. Just hope he is not too successful, at least in the short term.

  2. Great piece Wayne. It’s great to see that a country boy who remained loyal to a club like Penrith has been able to rise right to very top.

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