FROM inspiring schoolboys in Glasgow to spearheading England's quest to regain the Ashes - that, in a nutshell, is the unlikely coaching career path of Trevor Bayliss.

The Australian will wear the backroom kit emblazoned with the three lions for the first time on Wednesday when his new charges square up to Michael Clarke's tourists in the first Ashes Test in Cardiff.

The man who paved the way for Bayliss's first taste of coaching 26 years ago, former West of Scotland captain Colin Mair, believes he is the right man to guide England to glory.

The newly retired High School of Glasgow rector appointed Bayliss as West's club pro in 1989 on the recommendation of the former Lancashire all-rounder Jack Simmons and pressed him into service in a second role helping to coach pupils.

"From the outset, I found TB to be an impressive guy, a straightforward no-frills character who had loads of good cricketing sense and read situations very quickly and clearly," Mair says. "He played a range of attacking shots while his defensive technique was tight and he was also a very useful off-spinner."

Bayliss helped the Hamilton Crescent club to West League Cup and Scottish Cup triumphs in 1989 followed by league championship success in his second season.

Mair says: "I well remember our victory in the Scottish Cup final over Clydesdale at Titwood. It was not a high-scoring match after the start delayed by overnight rain. Trevor's bowling partnership with slow seamer Mark Gilchrist restricted the scoring of Terry Racionzer and their pro Amir Malik at a vital stage.

"He also scored lots of important runs when West won the Western Union in 1990. He knew what was required and delivered, which was very much his style. He and his wife, Julie, helped to build a relaxed and very successful atmosphere around the team. Trevor and Julie and I have stayed at each other's homes on several occasions since and they both remember their two summers in Scotland warmly.

"In March, my colleagues at the High School set me up for a surprise This Is Your Life during a concert night. Trevor had willingly provided a video clip for it, filmed at the SCG."

Mair is an admirer of the way Bayliss can inspire those around him without fuss or drama. "In some ways, Trevor is not an archetypal Aussie. He wasn't brash and didn't shout on the pitch but had a quiet way of building confidence in others and creating a positive team ethic.

"He sees himself as just a normal guy. Whatever he does for England, he'll do it for the players' benefit. He will aim to create the circumstances for them to perform at their best and he'll nurture the team atmosphere in his own quiet way. He's a great guy who hasn't changed from the positive, friendly young man he was when we first met."

Bayliss demonstrated his abilities as a talent spotter during Mair's last visit to Sydney for the Ashes Test in 2003. The Scot said: "I arrived from the airport at the NSW trial match where TB was working.He pointed out to me the youngster he regarded as the next big player in Australian cricket - a young Michael Clarke, who was hitting sixes and bowling very useful slow left arm. Not a bad prediction."

Australian-born former Scotland bowler Paul Hoffmann, however, believes not even the coaching prowess of his one-time New South Wales team-mate can save England from defeat. Hoffmann, now based in Rockhampton, Queensland, says: "There is no arguing that Trevor possesses an impressive coaching resume.

"He also has a good deal of inside knowledge of the Australian players, having worked with all of them at some stage in their careers. But the big question is will the English players be able to deliver when it matters, even with him at the helm?"

Hoffmann goes so far as to question whether England made the right decision in appointing Bayliss. He adds: "He's a student of the game and has a relaxed nature but, at 55, is he really what England need at the dawn of their exciting new 'dynamic' era?

"Should the ECB not have gone for a younger coach, such as Jason Gillespie? I was surprised at Bayliss' selection but it was a safe choice. The bottom line, though, is I can see Australia winning the series 3-0 or even 4-0."