TREVOR BAYLISS has described ongoing speculation about Alastair Cook’s future as England captain as a “pain in the backside”.
Cook partially left himself a hostage to fortune when he spoke before the start of England’s Test series in India of a final stage in his international career in which he could envisage playing purely as a batsman again without the strains of leadership.
He quickly clarified his remarks, before the drawn first Test in Rajkot, explaining he will - as after every series - discuss all matters arising in a debrief with England and Wales Cricket Board managing director Andrew Strauss.
The continued longevity of Cook’s tenure is the topic which will not go away, however, and both he and England coach Bayliss again found themselves answering a barrage of questions on the subject after the tourists’ innings defeat in Mumbai on Monday confirmed a series already lost 3-0 with one to play.
England lost their last six wickets for 15 runs, chiefly to Ravi Ashwin who finished with 12 wickets in the match, and must travel on to Chennai for the fifth and final Test with a consolation victory the limit of their ambitions.
Bayliss voiced his backing for Cook, as he and several senior players have done at various stages of the tour, and was asked too if it is easy to stop the conjecture affecting England’s dressing-room.
“Well, that’s what you try to do,” said the Australian.
“But when it’s constantly in the media all the time, it’s a bit of a pain in the backside - especially when no one else (around the team) believes that or thinks that.”
Cook had earlier acknowledged at his post-match press conference that, during such a tough tour, he does occasionally even question himself - and made it clear that, should there be a change of leadership, he believes his deputy Joe Root will be ready to step up.
Bayliss spoke patiently, but admitted the open discussion of Cook’s position is frustrating for him at times.
“It’s a little bit aggravating,” he said.
“It takes the focus away from all the good things we’ve done on this tour.
“I think we’ve played some good cricket here. We’ve got to give credit where credit’s due - we’ve played good cricket, and (India) have played even better cricket.”
Cook, who will be 32 on Christmas Day, has led his country a record 58 times in Tests - having succeeded Strauss when his former opening partner retired four years ago.
Bayliss added: “I suppose anyone who’s done the job for that long, there’s always going to be questions towards the twilight of his career.
“But the job he’s done with the group, I think, has been fantastic.
“I think everyone, to a man, in the room would be disappointed if he wasn’t captain (for next year).”