Chris Silverwood has been given no assurances over his future as England head coach but insists he retains the support of his players despite their Ashes thrashing. The 46-year-old has also become the latest member of the leadership to point the finger at the domestic set-up and warned that whoever is in his place in four years’ time will face the same issues unless the County Championship moves into the height of summer.
In the aftermath of a 4-0 defeat that exposed issues in selection and strategy, Silverwood is waiting on a post-series review by Ashley Giles, the director of men’s cricket, to discover if he will lead the set-up in the Caribbean in March. “Nothing yet, no,” he replied when asked if he had been given any assurances. “I accept the job I’m in comes with that level of criticism and uncertainty as well. Until I’m told differently, I’ll start planning for the West Indies. I want to carry on but there are decisions above that [that] will be made as well.
“I’m the head coach of England but I’m also an England fan. I’m passionate about England and love the fact I can get involved and I can help. I want to continue doing this job, I think I can do this job. I’d like to see changes that would help us do the job better.”
Speaking at the team hotel in Hobart, Silverwood described the tour as the hardest of his career – either playing or coaching – and acknowledged that his naturally gentle approach with the players may have been a shortcoming. “I’m not a finished article as a coach and I want to get better all the time,” he said. “I’m not afraid to show my teeth, but you sometimes wonder in hindsight whether I should do it more. But then does it make it less effective? I don’t know.”
Asked if England’s latest collapse of 10 for 56 suggested a dressing room no longer inspired by its leadership, Silverwood replied: “I believe they’re still playing for us. The comments I’ve had from the dressing room would suggest that as well. I think what we saw was players that are tired. We’ve pushed these guys for too long in [bubble] environments. There are obviously skill elements attached to that as well.
“But it was hard to watch. At times, you were thinking: ‘Just get stuck in, show that fight’. But we didn’t. There was no point saying we did, because we clearly didn’t. I would never question the lads’ commitment. They’re as passionate as the rest of us about England cricket. They want to perform. They train hard, they just came up short.”
As well as the added complications due to the pandemic, Silverwood bemoaned the truncated preparation period and the loss of Jofra Archer and Olly Stone that left him with just one 90mph fast bowler in Mark Wood. He backed Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad to keep trucking in but, if he is retained, admitted changes elsewhere are almost inevitable. Chiefly among the batting, with Silverwood echoing his captain, Joe Root, in blaming the marginalised County Championship schedule for reducing the amount of spin and rewarding medium-pacers, only to see this flip at international level.
With the Hundred dominating peak months, Silverwood believes it is time to play first-class cricket underneath and accept the divergence in formats. He said: “Front-loading and back-loading the County Championship is not helping anyone. The Hundred is here. I’m more concerned with how we get the Championship working in the middle of the summer. If you get that, firstly you’re getting the opportunity to learn how to play long innings, score big runs, put partnerships together.
“But more importantly your spinners are going to come into it as well. [Seamers] have got to have that extra bit of zip or pace to get that movement to get the wickets. You look at the Australian bowling attack: the consistency with which they hit a length and make the ball do something is phenomenal
“We would like to find some equilibrium between white and red ball if we want to start producing Test cricketers again. If talk is all we do then in four years’ time you will be asking another person these same questions.”