England head coach Chris Silverwood believes record wicket-taker James Anderson and World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan deserve to end their international careers on their own terms.
Anderson missed the majority of the Ashes because of a calf injury, which will preclude the 37-year-old’s involvement for the trip to New Zealand next month in Silverwood’s first assignment since being promoted.
But in a bid to prove his fitness for the following tour of South Africa, Anderson is training at Manchester City’s Etihad Campus over the next two months alongside England’s strength and conditioning team.
With 575 Test wickets to his name, a record for a non-spinner, Anderson is not about to be summarily discarded and neither is his long-term opening bowling partner Stuart Broad, who dispelled any doubts about his England future by taking 23 Ashes scalps at an average of 26.65 this summer.
While succession planning is high on Silverwood’s agenda, the former Essex coach admitted the veteran pair – who he worked with at close quarters in his two-year stint overseeing England’s fast bowlers – are almost automatic selections provided they are both injury-free.
Silverwood said: “If they’re both fit, it’s difficult to look past them, isn’t it? It’s a great headache to have. When you look at the amount of wickets they’ve got between them it’s phenomenal.
“Jimmy’s great. He takes wickets, he’s got a lot of knowledge in there that he can share with the players coming in.
“I think it will be up to him to let us know, and I think he will, when he’s had enough, but who wouldn’t want a world-class bowler like him in the line-up? He is phenomenal. He gets wickets all round the world.
“So yes I want him around as long as I can, but equally we’ve got to be realistic and say ‘right we’ve got to do some future planning here’.
“We’ve got to sit down and make sure we’ve got depth so when guys do retire we’ve got people coming through who can take their places.”
Silverwood is similarly determined not to be caught out when Morgan eventually stands aside as limited-overs skipper, with the Irishman’s future uncertain beyond next year’s T20 World Cup.
Silverwood seems content to defer to Morgan about when to quit, after the Dubliner presided over their historic World Cup triumph this summer, but would welcome his input in choosing a successor.
“The way he leads that one-day side and T20 side, and the influence he’s got with the players, is phenomenal,” Silverwood said.
“He’s so respected and the ideas he has, moving them forward. My job is to give him as much support as I can, to help him get where he wants to get to with them.
“There’s got to be an eye on when it’s not Eoin any more, who is it going to be? Eoin’s got to be very much involved in that conversation as well.
“He’s earned the right to tell us when he’s had enough but certainly we’ve got to have one eye on transitioning that period.”
Silverwood gave his blessing for Morgan’s Test counterpart Joe Root to return to four in the batting order.
The Yorkshireman was at first drop during the Ashes, contributing four half-centuries but also three ducks, while an average of 38.12 after 28 Tests at three is in stark contrast to 48.39 in 36 matches batting one place lower.
Silverwood said: “Joe’s got to decide where he wants to bat and we’ve got to support him in that. If he goes back down to number four that’s absolutely fine by me.”
Silverwood also had some comforting words for Alex Hales, who was dropped from the World Cup squad following his suspension for failing a recreational drugs test and has subsequently lost his central contract.
The controversial batsman was unsurprisingly left out of the five-match Twenty20 series against New Zealand next month that will mark the start of Silverwood’s tenure after he was appointed as Trevor Bayliss successor this week.
Silverwood said: “I believe in never say never but equally he’s got to prove that firstly he’s getting the runs. Time is a great healer, so it’ll be a case of watch this space, really.”