He played a major part in turning England from white ball dinosaurs into all-conquering world champions, but despite leaving just before their World Cup success Paul Farbrace has no regrets.
As Trevor Bayliss’ trusted lieutenant for close to four years Farbrace was a key cog in England’s transformation into world beaters. Come February 2019 though, just a few months before a home World Cup, a return to county cricket with Warwickshire as their sporting director was too good to refuse.
The summer of 2019 is one that will live long in the memory as the general public rallied around England’s cricket team in a way not seen since the heady days of 2005.
Chances are most can remember exactly where they were when England won the World Cup, or when Ben Stokes slapped Australia around Headingley to win an all-time Ashes classic.
In that context most would assume Farbrace may harbour remorse at leaving just before such a historic summer.
But while he admitted those triumphs may have been hard to watch, his joy at seeing the players he’d coached for years fulfilling their potential trumped any pangs of regret.
“A few people have said, ‘you were an idiot for leaving just before the World Cup’ but it was never about me winning a World Cup. It was always about the players winning a World Cup ,” he told the i‘s Richard Edwards.
“If I learnt anything from working with Trevor Bayliss over eight years in international cricket, it’s that the game isn’t about the coach, it’s about the players. It will always be about players.
“I was thrilled to bits for the players, I really was. I found the Ashes quite hard to watch and I found the World Cup quite hard to watch as well, but that was my choice.
“I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of my time with England and watching and working with some of the best players in the world.
“It was a fantastic opportunity, I made the absolute most of it but it was the right time for me to come out.”
Farbrace was on the scene for many of England’s successes in the lead up to 2019; Test series wins over Australia in the 2015 Ashes and away in South Africa, coupled with reaching the 2016 T20 World Cup final and evolution into the world’s number one ODI side, saw England fighting strong on all fronts.
But life in international cricket is tough, and the endless travelling associated with increasingly packed schedules wore down Farbrace.
“There was one year, 2016 or 2017, where we were away for 304 nights in a hotel room,” he said.
“Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed international cricket and it’s something I’ll look back on and still appreciate how lucky I was, but it does take its toll.
“For me, it was about giving all the energy you had every day. But in international cricket you can only do that for a finite period.”