From Duncan Fletcher to Trevor Bayliss: how Chris Silverwood's predecessors shaped up

ESPN Cricinfo

ESPN Cricinfo

Author 2019-10-08 00:46:41

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After a long search for the right man, Chris Silverwood has been unveiled as England's new head coach across all three formats - an appointment that makes him the sixth man, and third Englishman, to coach the men's side since the advent of central contracts in 2000. With a strong first-class track record from his successes at Essex in 2016 and 2017, and an impressive stint on Bayliss's coaching staff, Silverwood has been described as the "stand-out candidate" for the role. But how does he shape up against those who came before him? ESPNcricinfo takes a look at his predecessors.

Duncan Fletcher (1999-2007)

Tests: P 92, W 42, L 30, D 24
ODIs: P 166, W 75, L 82, T 2, NR 7
T20Is: P 4, W 1, L 3

Taciturn and inscrutable, the first test of Duncan Fletcher's credentials came on the very first morning of his tenure, at Johannesburg in 1999-2000, when England crumbled to 2 for 4 against Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock. The cameras hovered on the dressing room balcony, seeking a reaction, but Fletcher didn't flinch - and that poker-face became the trademark of a man who placed loyalty to his senior players at the very heart of his methods. The advent of the ECB's central contracts system aided his desire for dressing-room stability, and he formed a near-instant rapport with his captain, Nasser Hussain, whose emotional edge on the field was the perfect foil to Fletcher's sang froid off it.

High point

The 2005 Ashes was the zenith of Fletcher's reign, and even after this year's extraordinary achievements, remains in many people's eyes English cricket's greatest summer in living memory.

However, the twin triumphs in Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 2000-01 were in many ways Fletcher's finest hour - coming as they did so early in his reign when so many elements of that later success were still a work in progress. The "forward press" - his landmark method for dealing with spin, which he likened to getting to a bus-stop early rather than rushing there at the last minute, found a raft of eager disciples who were quickly encouraged that, on the rare occasions that he spoke, Fletcher would speak sense.

Low point

The winter of 2006-07 was a disaster in every facet, as Fletcher's legacy crumbled in acrimony - first in the Ashes, when his reluctance to embrace a new generation (Chris Read, Sajid Mahmood, Monty Panesar et al.) meant that an out-of-sorts old guard (Ashley Giles, Geraint Jones, Steve Harmison in particular) were exposed to humiliation at the hands of a ruthless and vengeance-fuelled Australia. By the time of a miserable World Cup in the Caribbean that spring, Fletcher was quickly coming to the realisation that he should have left with the gratitude of his adopted nation back in 2005. Instead, his record and his relationships soured with dispiriting speed.

Notable players brought through

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Marcus Trescothick and Michael Vaughan are perhaps the most famous examples of the instinct that underpinned Fletcher's clinical methods - both had been modest achievers on the county circuit, but Fletcher rightly recognised they had too much talent to be judged on statistics alone. His man-management skills also allowed an ensemble of potentially awkward cusses to thrive under his tutelage - notably Andrew Caddick, who enjoyed the best years of his career between 2000 and 2003, and that man Kevin Pietersen.

Ones that got away

Graeme Swann was never forgiven for a cocky maiden tour of South Africa as a 20-year-old in 2000. A solitary ODI at Bloemfontein, a few too many missed alarm calls, and a punch on the nose from Darren Gough all added up to a seven-year exile. And while Andrew Flintoff enjoyed the best years of his career under Fletcher, his development came in spite of a testy relationship that fell apart in the 2006-07 winter.

Peter Moores (2007-2009)

Tests: P 22, W 8, L 6, D 8
ODIs: P 36, W 14, L 18, T 1, NR 3
T20Is:P 11, W 5, L 5, NR 1

The ECB's anointed one. Moores was one of the first Level 4 coaches to graduate from the High Performance Centre at Loughborough, and his rubber-stamping as Fletcher's successor was intended to be a validation (and vindication) of the board's extensive investment. Instead, Moores' energetic methods were met with bemusement by a raft of senior players who took umbrage at being micro-managed. Appointing Kevin Pietersen as captain was ballsy, but doomed to failure.

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High point

Many of Moores' better moments came in ODI cricket, with a hard-fought 4-3 series win against India in 2007 followed by an impressive 3-2 away win in Sri Lanka, and a 4-0 thumping of South Africa on home soil the following summer. However, his reign deserves to be remembered for the come-from-behind 2-1 win in New Zealand in 2007-08, in particular for the manner in which jettisoned the old guard, Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison, in favour of the new. Ever since that first coming together at Wellington, James Anderson and Stuart Broad have lived up to the faith that their coach placed in them.

Low point

The India tour in 2008 was unrelentingly grim, beset by security issues and notable for the terminal unravelling of Moores' and Pietersen's relationship, as the captain decided that a former Sussex wicketkeeper was no sort of an ally when Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar are exposing your tactics on a daily basis. Within weeks it was all over - with Pietersen's insistence that Moores had to go triggering the departure of both men in a shambolic festive meltdown.

Notable players brought through

In fairness to Moores, his reputation as an exceptional development coach was enhanced by a brief reign in which so many pillars of England's future world-beating team would be given their first real opportunities. In addition to Anderson and Broad, Moores brought Swann back in from the cold after seven years in county cricket, and showed faith in Matt Prior as the Test wicketkeeper where previously he'd been restricted to a handful of misfiring ODIs. A word too for the veteran Ryan Sidebottom, who played a crucial bridging role as the new seam attack bedded in.

Ones that got away

In the mid-2000s, if you couldn't work with Kevin Pietersen, it wasn't going to work.

Andy Flower (2009-2014)

Tests: P 66, W 30, L 17, D 19
ODIs: P 84, W 46, L 34, T 2, NR 2 (to November 2012)
T20Is: P 39, W 21, L 15, NR 3 (to November 2012)

Though he was unfairly disparaged as a "mood hoover" in Pietersen's autobiography, it is incontrovertible that something shifted in Flower's mindset in the latter years of his England tenure, as the side that had risen on his watch to become the No. 1 Test team in the world crumbled through overuse. The hard-bitten methods that served Zimbabwe so well in Flower's playing career were found to be too rigid and unadaptable in the coaching sphere, once a golden generation had passed its prime. But in the years when everything clicked, English cricket has rarely had it so good.

High point

The 2010-11 Ashes was one of the outstanding campaigns in English sporting history - planned with military precision in every facet, from the acclimatisation, to the itinerary, to the squad's bench-strength, to the battle-hardiness of the star performers. And it was executed with ruthless efficiency, as England swept to three innings victories in their 3-1 series win, thanks to 500-plus scores in four of their five matches. A nod too, to the 2010 World T20 - England's first limited-overs global trophy.

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Low point

The 2013-14 Ashes, by contrast, was a complete and utter disaster. A sated squad, who had retained the urn on home soil only months earlier, arrived Down Under amid expectations that they would wrap up their fourth consecutive Ashes win. On paper, the team looked every bit as formidable as Andrew Strauss's from four years earlier. But Mitchell Johnson, lampooned in his previous two Ashes in 2009 and 2010-11, bowled like the wind to end not only their grip on the urn, but the Flower era with it.

Notable players brought through

Jonathan Trott's ice-cool Ashes debut at The Oval in 2009 presaged a brilliant four-year reign as England's No. 3 - a guy capable of batting in his own bubble no matter the circumstances, and epitomising an approach that did at times attract criticism for being boring (as if being bowled out in a session, in the manner more familiar to recent England teams, is preferable).

Ones that got away

Steven Finn could have been a contender. A towering and youthful quick bowler, with the ability to crank the pace up to 90mph, but also the sort of repeatable action that could have made him England's answer to Glenn McGrath. Instead, having become the youngest England bowler to take 50 Test wickets in 2011, Finn became a byword for biomechanical mismanagement, and by the 2013-14 Ashes he had been infamously deemed "unselectable" by the one-day coach, Ashley Giles …

Ashley Giles (2012-2014)

ODIs: P 29, W 13, L 15, NR 1
T20s: P 17, W 5, L 11, NR 1

A short but significant tenure, given the identity of the man who has just rubber-stamped Silverwood's appointment. Giles' appointment as white-ball coach in November 2012 came at a time when player and coach workload was a hot topic, and the man himself acknowledged that splitting the roles was crucial to avoid "burning out your best people". At the time that he was happy to defer to Flower, who retained the whip-hand in the relationship as the Test coach, but the subsequent tug-of-war over player availability quickly changed his opinion.

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High point

The Champions Trophy in 2013. It's easily overlooked now, especially given what happened two years later, but had it not been for a day-long downpour that turned the final against India into a 20-over shootout, England might well have claimed that elusive global trophy with a last hurrah to the long-lamented Texaco Trophy era. With the likes of Cook and Trott setting a platform for Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara in the middle order, and with Anderson and Broad bowling proper lines and lengths under overcast skies, it was a formula that took England further in the tournament than in any World Cup campaign of the preceding 20 years.

Low point

The defeat to Netherlands at the World T20 in 2014 was the final insult at the end of the grimmest English winter of all time, although the team had already been knocked out of the competition thanks to their three-run loss to South Africa. Such fine margins …

Notable players brought through

Alex Hales was a T20 regular long before he got a belated shot in the 50-over team - and in blasting a remarkable 116 not out from 64 balls against Sri Lanka at the World T20 in 2014, he provided England with a truly memorable take-away from a dismal tournament, as well as a glimpse of a more power-packed future.

Ones that got away

Pity poor Jade Dernbach. His box-of-frogs repertoire was way ahead of its time. And repeatedly smashed to all corners in a team that didn't really appreciate the nuance required in modern one-day bowling. His Surrey acolyte, Tom Curran, may yet have a better time of it in years to come.

Peter Moores (2014-2015)

Tests: P 10, W 4, L 3, D 4
ODIs: P 28, W 10, L 18
T20Is: P 2, W 1, L 1

Who, in all honesty, thought that this would end well? The return of Moores, five years after his reign had been interrupted by Pietersen's New Year putsch in 2008-09, was accompanied by the sound of an ECB media machine in overdrive. He inherited a captain, Cook, in the worst form slump of his life, as well as a mutinous public who wanted answers as to why Pietersen - still the best player in the country - had been summarily dismissed in the wake of the Ashes defeat.

High point

It took some time to take shape, but England's 3-1 series win over India in 2014 was impressive in the final analysis, not least given the nadir from which they'd had to recover. A shocking 1-0 loss to Sri Lanka was followed by a miserable defeat in the second Test against India at Lord's, after which the captain, Cook, was as close to resignation as he had ever been. Instead, Cook clung on, found a semblance of form to square the series in Southampton, and by the time they'd sealed the deal with consecutive innings wins at Old Trafford and The Oval, it seemed that better times were in prospect.

Low point

The 2015 World Cup in its entirety. No England campaign has ever been exposed to more ridicule, from the creakiness of their outdated tactics to the magnitude of their myriad defeats - not least the shellacking in Wellington's Cake Tin against New Zealand, where Brendon McCullum et al. hunted down a target of 124 in 12.2 overs.

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Moores' comments about "data" in the aftermath of England's group-stage exit against Bangladesh (for all that the exact context is disputed) have become as much of a metaphor for a sorry reign as Steve McClaren's brolly.

Notable players brought through

It was all too late to save anything, but the decision to dispense with Cook as one-day captain and hand the reins to Eoin Morgan would pay dividends further down the line …

Ones that got away

The non-selection of Ben Stokes for the 2015 World Cup may have been justifiable in terms of pure numbers - he'd endured a shocking run of form, not least in the Caribbean 12 months earlier - but Stokes' subsequent pre-eminence in all formats for England points at Moores' rare failure to improve the prospects of a young talent.

Trevor Bayliss (2015-2019)

Tests: P 59, W 27, L 25, D 7
ODIs: P 93, W 62, L 24, T 2, NR 5
T20Is: P 34, W 19, L 14, T 1

A no-nonsense Aussie, with an outstanding track record in white-ball cricket that included a World T20 title with Sri Lanka, multiple IPL titles with Kolkata Knight Riders, and the BBL crown (and a Champions League) with Sydney Sixers. Back in 2015, he seemed a left-field appointment but Andrew Strauss, then England's director of cricket, rightly noted that a home World Cup in 2019 was too good an opportunity to leave to chance …

High point

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The World Cup victory was the alpha and omega of Bayliss's reign. Every ounce of his focus was piled into the white-ball squad, and everything came good on that extraordinary afternoon at Lord's on July 14. The fact that the team had to do it the hard way was a vindication of Bayliss's softly-spoken influence - far from cantering to victory in a haze of 450-plus scores, England were drawn into dogfights on a succession of bowler-friendly wickets in which only their greater knowhow gave them an edge.

Low point

The run of 10 overseas defeats (and no victories) in 12 Tests between October 2016 and March 2018. Encompassing a first Test loss to Bangladesh, consecutive 4-0 thrashings against India and Australia, and a 58-all-out in the first Test against New Zealand at Auckland, that record spoke of a squad that lacked depth and penetration with the ball, and anything approaching a spine with the bat.

Notable players brought through

Take your pick from the World Cup squad. Such was the wholesale clear-out after the 2015 World Cup that any number of the players who came the journey in the last four-year cycle would qualify. Notably Jason Roy (even though he was technically blooded by Bayliss's sidekick, Paul Farbrace), but Jos Buttler also found a new lease of life in the liberated atmosphere of the new regime. And then, of course, there's Ben Stokes, whose career might not have survived the events of Bristol had a more hard-bitten man been in charge of the dressing-room dynamic.

Ones that got away

Gary Ballance, Nick Compton, Haseeb Hameed, Adam Lyth, Keaton Jennings, Mark Stoneman. Take your pick from a host of Test-specialist batsmen whose old-school crease-occupation methods were at odds with Bayliss's "go-faster" regime. Hindsight suggests that his priorities weren't entirely wrong, in that everything about his tenure was geared towards that World Cup success and therefore he was reluctant to embrace players whose methods encouraged second-guessing and safety-first. But it does mean that the Test team endured four years of drift.

Chris Silverwood (2019-?)

On the plus side, the last deputy to make the step-up didn't do too badly - Flower memorably picked up the rubble after Moores' first dismissal in January 2009 and (after a rude awakening in his first Test in Sabina Park) built a side that rose to No. 1 in the world. But on the negative side, England's home-grown coaches of the modern era - Moores in two spells and Giles in one - have both endured short-lived and unsuccessful tenures.

Silverwood has been handed the multi-format role for the sake of executive clarity, but it's clear from Giles' musings in the build-up to the appointment that the reinvigoration of England's Test fortunes will be the ultimate priority. To that end, his brief record at Essex is encouraging - not only for what he achieved in first securing promotion in 2016 then claiming the County Championship a year later, but in laying the foundations for the T20/Championship double that his successor Anthony McGrath oversaw this year.

In terms of the raw materials at his disposal, there were clear signs in the recent Ashes that England's squad retains the spirit required to compete across five days (in spite of their recent habit of being bowled out in a session). And, while Joe Root's tactical acumen remains up for debate, there was no doubt that his players were fully behind him in the moment of that series-squaring victory at The Oval.

As a former fast bowler (and a genuinely rapid one at that, in between his various injuries) Silverwood will recognise one of the most pressing issues of his reign, the need to find long-term replacements for both James Anderson and Stuart Broad, whose renaissance performance against Australia cannot entirely cloud the issue about his overseas role, particularly with two years to go until the next Ashes.

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There would appear to be one ready-made answer in Jofra Archer, one of the sport's thoroughbreds, although the question of workload hung over Archer's maiden international summer and will continue to linger so long as there are competing formats. Saqib Mahmood, set to make his bow in New Zealand next month, is another potential world-beater, although his body has been particularly prone to injury in his formative years. At least in being the boss of all formats, Silverwood will be best placed to ensure the right balance for both.

But, as Bayliss proved in sacrificing the wants of one format for the needs of the other, it's no easy task to achieve an equilibrium between red- and white-ball cricket. England have back-to-back World T20s to plan for in Australia next year and India the next, then the Ashes Down under, then the defence of their World Cup in India in 2023. Four distinct targets in four years, and moving ones at that. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

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