England appoint Silverwood: Profiling the new head coach - and key issues for the future

By Sports Desk October 07, 2019

First Alec Stewart was seen as the leading candidate. Then Gary Kirsten became the front-runner for the job. In the end, though, Chris Silverwood came up on the rails to become England's new head coach.

The 44-year-old nicknamed 'Spoons' may not be a top-drawer name in comparison to others linked with the high-profile vacancy, but he has undoubtedly earned his opportunity.

Promoted from his role as bowling coach under previous coach Trevor Bayliss, Silverwood made clear his focus in the statement confirming his appointment: "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."

So, who is the man now in charge of the England team? We take a look at his career path to the job, as well as highlighting some of the key issues he faces at the start of his reign.

 

Playing days and coaching success

Born in Pontefract, Yorkshireman Silverwood spent the majority of his playing career at his home county before finishing up at Middlesex. A lively pace bowler, he played six Tests and seven one-day games for England but never truly established himself at international level.

His reputation as a coach was forged at domestic level with Essex, first working with the county's bowlers before taking over in charge of the first team in 2016.

He immediately led them to promotion from Division Two and then, the following year, they were crowned county champions for the first time in 25 years.

Their success was spearheaded by a Kolpak recruit in Simon Harmer, yet the team also contained plenty of homegrown talent.  He helped seamer Jamie Porter rise to become one of the most consistent wicket-takers in first-class cricket, while batsman Tom Westley also earned international recognition during his watch.

Crucially for Essex, the foundations were laid for future success. This year, under the guidance of Silverwood's former assistant Anthony McGrath, a familiar-looking squad has won both the Vitality Blast and the County Championship again. 

"In his time with Essex, his outstanding leadership and interpersonal skills were a major factor in taking our cricket to the next level," John Faragher, Essex chairman, told the county's official website.

 

Moving on up

Silverwood's work with Essex unsurprisingly led to a job with England, as he was appointed bowling coach in 2017.

Working as part of Bayliss' staff, he was involved in the successful Cricket World Cup campaign on home soil earlier this year, with the tournament hosts aided by the emergence of Jofra Archer.

However, Silverwood has remained very much in the background, rarely talking to the media. Still, his work – and his words – were enough to convince the powers that be when it came to the main job.

"Chris demonstrated in his interview a clear understanding and strategy of how both the red and white ball teams need to evolve. He has some detailed thoughts on what it will take to win the Ashes in Australia and win major ICC white-ball tournaments," Ashley Giles, managing director of the England team, said in a statement.

"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."

Giles' quotes contained two key words - "Ashes" and "culture".

England have undoubtedly prioritised white-ball cricket in recent years – and with great success, too – but a failure to beat Australia on home soil in Bayliss' final Test series in charge has shifted the longer format back into focus.

When it comes to culture, England's hierarchy have gone with a homegrown option. Australian Bayliss admitted he did not pay too much attention to county cricket – that will not be the case with Silverwood, who has a wealth of experience as both a player and a coach.

Yet Silverwood has also seen what exactly is required to prosper in the international game. To that extent, he also has an advantage in knowing how both Joe Root - who will work alongside his fellow Yorkshireman with the Test team - and white-ball specialist Eoin Morgan tick, having been part of the inner sanctum for a couple of years.

 

Planning for the future

A busy schedule, that’s what. International cricket is a non-stop treadmill, though the grind of games all-year round is nothing new to Silverwood.

While there is a Twenty20 World Cup coming up next year, England are a well-oiled machine in white-ball cricket. There may be players who emerge in the coming months to force their way in - just as Archer did once he was available - but the bulk of the group is already known, and Morgan is an experienced leader with clear plans on how his team should play.

So, as Silverwood said himself, Test cricket is to be the main focus.  In the near future, there are tours to New Zealand and South Africa coming up, but the long-term aim is winning the Ashes Down Under in 2021-22.

Archer has added some much-needed pace to go alongside England's leading two wicket-takers in James Anderson (fitness permitting) and Stuart Broad. On their last visit to Australia, the attack was distinctly lacking in terms of speed, such a crucial factor in conditions where swing is less of a factor.

The batting, though, requires serious work - less of a cosmetic job and more a case of knocking it down and starting again.

Silverwood needs to begin the rebuild at the top, with England desperately needing to establish a regular top three. Root looks set to return to four, while the talk from national selector Ed Smith after Jonny Bairstow was dropped for the New Zealand series suggests he should concentrate just on batting, rather than continuing behind the stumps.

Ben Stokes is a certainty in the middle order, but Silverwood has to be careful with overburdening the all-rounder.

As with others who play all formats, workload management will be key for Stokes. Being England coach is often about spinning plates, but the complexities of the job are nothing new for Silverwood, the quiet man who now gets the chance to set the tone after stepping out from the background.

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