'’I want to make sure that from the get-go we are aligned': Chris Silverwood vows to take England back-to-basics after replacing Trevor Bayliss
Chris Silverwood revealed a back-to-basics manifesto to improve the Test team’s fortunes after being unveiled as the new England coach at Lord’s on Thursday.
Flanked by Ashley Giles, England’s managing director - who was at pains to point out that the skills that had seen the 44-year-old beat international candidates like Gary Kirsten to become only the second Englishman behind Peter Moores to become head coach of the national team since 1999 were not in ‘key note or powerpoint or any other presentation tool’ but in creating a winning culture - Silverwood pledged there would be an onus on batting long and bowling relentlessly accurately.
An eventful first 72 hours in the job - he responded to being offered it by Giles with a single word: ‘Wow!’ - included an in-depth phone conversation with Test captain Joe Root on the direction he wants the team to head in this winter. They are, he says, on the same page.
Chris Silverwood revealed a back-to-basics manifesto to improve England Test team’s fortunes
‘I want to make sure that from the get-go, Joe and I are aligned with how we're going to go about taking the Test team forward,’ he said.
‘Yes, we want to bat long periods of time and we want to create a bowling attack that is absolutely relentless. I mean, we saw some examples this summer. The Aussies made our lives really difficult. They were fit, they were strong, and they were relentless.’
That means the 'total cricket’ style that Root envisaged being the template to win back the Ashes this past summer is consigned to history, as crease-occupiers like Dominic Sibley, who signed a new contract on Thursday that will keep him at Warwickshire until the end of 2022, are invested in ahead of more exuberant batsmen like his former Surrey team-mate Jason Roy.
Such a policy is no guarantee of a fix of course, and pain could precede gain in terms off results - although a two-match series in New Zealand late next month offers an ideal opportunity to blood uncapped players as it does not count towards the World Test Championship.
Silverwood was unveiled as the successor to Trevor Bayliss at Lord's on Thursday
‘Some cogs will turn faster than others. I saw exactly the same during my time at Essex. It may be the fact that we have to give people time to find the feet. But we're respectful of that and it's up to me to create the environment where they can get it wrong a few times as long as they're learning things that add to their game. I'm perfectly fine with that,’ Silverwood said.
‘It could be Dom Sibley coming in at the top of order, and we've got to make sure a guy who's going to be feeling the pressure anyway is given a chance. Hopefully what we'll find is the runs that he's been scoring, he brings in to Test cricket, and then all of a sudden the process starts.’
Silverwood’s other significant phone call this week was to Ben Stokes, Root's vice-captain, on the latest off-field attention he has attracted - after photo stills of Stokes with his hand on his wife Clare’s face emerged from last week’s PCA awards evening.
‘I have spoken to him, and as far as I'm concerned, all the questions have been asked. And it's done. I wasn't there. I'm happy with what I've been told,’ Silverwood said.
‘It's a lesson for everybody. You know, they are high profile, and you’ve got to be careful because innocent things can be taken out of context if you are not careful.’
With this in mind, the midnight curfew that England players must adhere to while on international duty will remain in place at the start of Silverwood’s regime.
‘Firstly, I've not heard anybody complain about it, which has been fantastic. It probably just puts a little onus on how professional things have got to be. It's not like the old days. Times have moved on. And the level of professionalism that is expected of them is higher, as it should be, which is fine.’
Silverwood and Giles said they are united in wanting to create not only the world’s best team but the most respected one.
‘Ultimately, you want to be successful, but it's how you are successful as well. So it's winning in the right spirit of the game. Winning with a little bit of class, and respecting your opposition as well,’ Silverwood said.
Paul Collingwood, who has been on a set number of coaching days for the past three years, is to become a permanent member of England’s backroom team before the first of three senior tours this winter while Silverwood now turns his attention to identifying the man to fill the fast bowling coach shoes he himself has just vacated.