Ben Stokes' week is 'a lesson for England's players', warns Chris Silverwood on first day as new head coach

The Telegraph

The Telegraph

Author 2019-10-10 21:14:00


Chris Silverwood began his tenure as England’s head coach warning this week’s publicity around Ben Stokes and his wife was “a lesson for everybody”.

Silverwood confirmed he has spoken to Stokes and is happy with his explanation that photographs appearing to show him grabbing his wife Clare’s face were innocent and taken out of context.

However, he agreed it was an example of the scrutiny Stokes is under after paparazzi snapped pictures of him and his wife at last week’s Professional Cricketers’ Association annual dinner.Â

“I have spoken to him, and as far as I'm concerned, all the questions have been asked and it’s done,” Silverwood said. “I wasn't there. I'm happy with what I've been told.Â

“It's a lesson for everybody. You know, they [players] are high profile, you’ve got to be careful because innocent things can be taken out of context if you are not careful.”

Stokes’s heroics on the field this summer have elevated him to a level of public profile not experienced by a cricketer since Ian Botham in the 1980s and his private life will make front page news.Â

It emerged on Thursday  that Stokes and his mother, Deborah, are suing the Sun newspaper after it published a story last month detailing events in New Zealand 31 years ago when her ex-husband killed their two children and then himself.

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Stokes is a model professional and dedicated cricketer but Silverwood and the ECB will have to deal with the circus that follows him around now and ensure it does not distract the other players.

The new coach confirmed the midnight curfew will stay in place and that he wants his team to win the respect of the public not by just being successful on the pitch, but also by how they behave off the field.

“You want to be successful, but it's [about] 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,” he said. “It [curfew] will be staying. 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.”

Ashley Giles, his boss as England director, said Silverwood was chosen ahead of external candidates partly because of his involvement in developing a culture within the England set up along with captains Joe Root and Eoin Morgan. He insisted Silverwood was not picked on the basis of a good “PowerPoint presentation”.

Silverwood shares similarities with his predecessor Trevor Bayliss. He is quietly spoken, does not crave the limelight and appears to be without ego. Those who played under him at Essex talk about a coach who takes the pressure off his players, a crucial part of the job at international level, and treats winning and losing with equal measure.Â

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Where he differs from Bayliss is his knowledge of the county game and as far as Giles is concerned, Silverwood will be crucial in bringing the domestic game and the international sides closer together. “At times we’ve worked as a bit of an island and an overseas coach doesn’t always help that because they don’t have the same knowledge or experience of our system,” said Giles.

Silverwood revealed he was at home, sat in his living room, when Giles called him to offer him the job. “My wife Victoria was in the kitchen. And literally, she just heard me go, 'wow'. Then I think I went quiet for a little bit. But then she just saw me giving it this [clenched fists]. And she's obviously jumping around, absolutely over the moon.”

Bayliss created a culture that encouraged players to be bold and to not fear failure. It led to a World Cup win but inconsistency in Test cricket. Silverwood intends to encourage the ‘no fear’ culture but insists England will adopt old fashioned values in Test cricket and has already spoken to Root about how they will play starting with the tour to New Zealand at the end of this month.

“Joe and I had a good long conversation yesterday. I want to make sure that from the get go, Joe and I are aligned with how we're going to take the Test team forward,” he said. “One thing we’ll look at is building a batting group that can bat long periods of time, stack runs up and put pressure on. We need the right people in the right places. And then 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.”


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