Trevor Bayliss says that England have reaped the rewards of their new, bold approach to selection, after his team wrapped up a 57-run victory in the second Test in Pallekele to secure their first overseas series win in three years.
Bayliss, whose successes with England's white-ball squad had at times been at odds with a lack of progress in the longer format, told Sky Sports that he felt vindicated after securing England's second series win in Sri Lanka in five attempts since 2000-01.
"Obviously it can be very difficult to come here and play a team in their home conditions, but it's been a fantastic effort by all 11 players," said Bayliss, who had himself coached Sri Lanka from 2007 to 2011.
The victory was achieved in a markedly different style to their last visit to Asia in 2016-17, which resulted in a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Bangladesh and a 4-0 drubbing in five Tests against India. This time England took the tough decision to leave out some senior players, not least Stuart Broad, who has 433 Test wickets to his name, and impressed upon their batsmen in particular to maintain a positive aggressive approach, even when the ball was spinning.
"I think the fact that we have gone in a little differently has shown that, in past series we've talked about possibly playing different combinations but when it's got to it we haven't," said Bayliss. "But on this occasion we said 'no, look, it's time to actually play the conditions', and if that means some good players miss out then, unfortunately, that's the way it goes."
It had been a complete squad performance, Bayliss insisted, adding that the experience on the sidelines had been instrumental in helping some of the newer names in the starting XI settle into their roles.
"Jonny [Bairstow] and Stuart Broad have been fantastic behind the scenes," he said. "The work they've done as 12th men is very significant. It's been very much a team effort
"Both Rory [Burns] and [Ben] Foakes, they are only playing their second Tests, but they looked so calm, they looked like it was their 30th or 40th, which is a great sign going forward. They might have been feeling a bit more underneath but outwardly they were very confident, and that sends a message to the opposition."
Bayliss also had special praise for his captain, Joe Root, whose second-innings 124 at Pallekele secured him the Man-of-the-Match award after propelling England towards a defendable total.
"it was right up there, especially in these conditions, which were something completely different to what he's faced before," said Bayliss. "He was under a bit of pressure of wanting his players to go out and play that way, so it was a great innings. He was probably a little bit nervous early on, but once you got in on this wicket, it wasn't impossible to play, which we saw from a number of players getting 50s and 60s in this match. But the wicket was hard to start on so credit to him."
He was impressed too by the resolve that England's spinners showed in closing out the victory with a national record of 19 scalps between them, backed up by a fine fielding effort, epitomised by Ben Stokes' first-innings run-out of Dimuth Karunaratne, and Keaton Jennings' livewire performance at short leg.
"In the first innings we were a bit below par, with not enough balls in the right area, but we spoke about that and, under pressure to perform in the second innings, they did a fantastic job.
"It's good to know that all the hard work from a coach's point of view pays off as well," he added. "We certainly don't have to goad the players into doing anything extra, sometimes it's quite the opposite. But there were some brilliant catches."