Bayliss turns up the heat on Blues to strike top form

Incoming NSW coach Trevor Bayliss has challenged his players to prove their worth by offering Blues squad members only one-year contracts and declining to extend existing long-term deals beyond this season.

NSW began pre-season training in Sydney on Tuesday, formally beginning a new era that in the past four months has included a new chairman, chief executive and coach being installed.

A new captain will follow, with Brad Haddin the hot favourite to take over in the absence of Australian skipper Michael Clarke, and 24-year-old Steve Smith a strong chance of being handed the reins if and when Haddin is on international duty.

Bayliss, a former NSW and Sri Lanka coach, was pleased to see the Blues improve from a forgettable 2011-12 season to finish third in the Sheffield Shield in March but has laid down the gauntlet with the issuing of contracts.

While it is understood several players, including Smith, Stephen O’Keefe and Peter Nevill, are not affected due to existing deals that stretch past the end of this season, the rest of the contracted list of 17 have been issued a perform-or-perish challenge as part of his ambition to restore NSW as Australia’s interstate powerhouse.

Bayliss would not comment on individual contracts but hopes the overhaul will be a powerful motivating tool. ”There are some guys on longer-term deals from last season and the year before,” he said. ”But this year we decided not to hand out any new two-year deals or extensions to deals that were already done.

”It’s an attitude that we don’t want the guys to be comfortable. We understand they need a certain amount of stability I suppose in their life, and where their next dollar is coming from, we understand that.

”But in the end it is still sport, based on performance, and we can’t really get away from that. It’s up to the players to take on that responsibility. If you go out and perform the rewards will come your way.”

Cricket Australia-contracted players Clarke, Haddin, Mitchell Starc, Shane Watson, David Warner, Pat Cummins and new Blues signing Nathan Lyon are also unaffected but the likes of Moises Henriques, Doug Bollinger, Josh Hazlewood, Nic Maddinson and even Steve Waugh Medal winner Gurinder Sandhu will all play the season with deals that expire at the close of the summer.

The state list was drawn up by a group that also included former Test captain Mark Taylor and ex-Australian seamer Stuart Clark. ”I want to reward performance, not reward and then hope players perform to that level,” Bayliss said. ”Let’s see who wants to challenge themselves and wants to play for the right reasons.

”We’ll make decisions at the end of the season on longer-term deals. It’s not the end of the longer-term deals. I’m sure at the end of this next season we’ll be talking about multi-year deals.”

O’Keefe’s standing down as Blues captain in March also leaves the state to appoint a replacement given Clarke’s general absence. Ben Rohrer was installed on an interim basis in the final stages of last season but Smith, who captained Sydney Sixers to the Big Bash League title in 2011-12, is also a contender to take over should Haddin be wearing the gloves for Australia.

”The selection panel has to be ratified again for this season and when that happens they will obviously sit down and discuss things and one issue will be the captaincy,” Bayliss said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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