LONDON: After four years with an Australian in charge, England’s cricket team is back in the hands of an Englishman.
Chris Silverwood, who played six Tests for England over six years around the turn of the century, was the rather low-profile choice to replace Trevor Bayliss as head coach of the national teams on Monday.
After Bayliss, who improved England’s one-day fortunes so much that the team won the Cricket World Cup for the first time this year, the England and Wales Cricket Board could have hired another coach from overseas in former South Africa international Gary Kirsten.
Yet, Silverwood proved to be the standout candidate because of his knowledge of the inner workings of the England team, and his rapport with the players through his role as its bowling coach for the past two years.
“He is somebody we know well, but it is his intimate understanding of our structures and systems and his close relationships with Test captain Joe Root and white-ball captain Eoin Morgan that will help us develop our plans for the next few years,” England managing director Ashley Giles said. “He has performed exceptionally well during his role as an assistant coach and has the ultimate respect of the players that have worked with him.”
Giles said the 44-year-old Silverwood demonstrated a “clear understanding and strategy of how both the red and white-ball teams need to evolve,” with critics of Bayliss saying the Australian focused too much on the shorter formats during his time in charge.
England won the World Cup this year, but failed to regain the Ashes from Australia after drawing a home series 2-2. That marked the end of Bayliss’ contract with England and he has since agreed to join Indian Premier League franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad next year.
“I aim to continue the great work that has been done over the past five years and build on our future, especially in the Test arena,” Silverwood said.
Silverwood, who played six Tests and seven ODIs from 1996-2002, won the English County Championship as Essex coach in 2017 before joining the national team’s backroom staff.
“He has some detailed thoughts on what it will take to win the Ashes in Australia and win major ICC white-ball tournaments,” Giles said. “Over the past couple of years, he has been an integral member of developing the teams’ culture and emerging a cohesive relationship across the team’s management group.”
Kirsten, who has previously led South Africa and India to No. 1 in the Test rankings, held talks with Giles and ECB chief executive Tom Harrison but was overlooked in favour of someone who also knows the domestic county scene better.
“Ultimately,” Giles said of Silverwood, “His highest quality is that he is a winner and that will be an important part of the job as we look to strive to become the most respected team in the world across all formats.”
Silverwood’s first assignment will be England’s tour of New Zealand on which they play five Twenty20 Internationals starting on Nov 1 and two Tests, before they travel to South Africa.
“I’m excited to get started and build teams that the whole game can be proud of,” Silverwood said. “There is a tremendous amount of talent coming through, and enormous potential for growth. The hard work starts now, and I’m confident we can make a positive impact during our winter tours of New Zealand and South Africa.”
Former England captain Nasser Hussain said Silverwood was a safe pair of hands, but that the job represented a big step up for him.
“There is a massive difference between being a friendly bowling coach and being the main man, picking and choosing your time to get hard and tough with the players, especially in the Test arena. That will be a challenge,” Hussain told Sky Sports. “At the moment he is popular but if he wants to do a good job he might have to upset a few people.”
Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2019