Rob Key: ‘Spoons’ deserves his chance to prove that Englishmen can coach

Rob Key
Evening Standard
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Getty Images

When Chris Silverwood was announced as the new England cricket coach on Monday, I was both pleased for him as a bloke and pleased with the appointment.

I played a bit with — and a lot against — ‘Spoons’, then came up against the Essex team where he was assistant and then head coach towards the end of my career.

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As a bowler, he was one of the quickest in the county game and he kept coming at you. I think the same is reflected in his coaching. He is quiet, but not shy, he never needs to rant and rave, but you do not mistake that he is tough.

That’s what you need in Test cricket: tough, level characters who are prepared to tell home truths, but not just through shouting. It’s not like the old football managers of yesteryear, ­launching into the players at half-time.

I’m personally particularly pleased that an English coach that has come through our system has a shot at the top job. Apart from Peter Moores twice, no Englishman has had a chance this century.

In some ways, our coaching system has a lot to answer for and I think we devalue our coaches. It’s almost like, if you have an Aussie accent we will give you the keys to the city.

Why is Chris Silverwood not going to be better than Andrew McDonald, or even Trevor Bayliss? I’m pleased he has the chance to prove himself. There are lots of new coaches in the system, from Matt Walker to Dominic Cork. We have to realise that these guys could be very good international coaches. The likes of Bayliss got an opportunity at Sri Lanka, the IPL. Our coaches don’t get that, so don’t end up being big names.

And Silverwood has certainly earned a shot. Essex were a county that had a lot of very good players, homegrown talent, but were stuck in Division Two and they just needed unlocking. ‘Spoons’ was the man who did that. He took them into the first division and won it at the first time of asking. He has been gone for almost two years, but they have done the double this year without the team changing too much.

He has done well since joining ­England and is fresh, too. Some of the same names get touted around every single time any job comes up. They’ve been on the treadmill, but Silverwood is a new face at the top table.

I imagine this is the same for any job, but experience can be to your detriment. If your reputation as someone with a lot of experience is that you’re an okay coach, then you’re an okay coach.

Silverwood could be a great coach, he could also be a poor coach in international cricket. But he’s got a chance to be anything and that’s exciting.

One thing I will say is that I hope he got this job based on his ability and achievements, not just the interview process and whether he is a whizz on PowerPoint. I think all you learn at interviews is who is good at being interviewed.

It’s like those personality profiling things. I don’t need to know if I’m an introvert or whether I can take criticism. It just clouds issues.

He and Gary Kirsten were both fine candidates. Look at their record, find out what players think of them, gauge their suitability, then make a decision on who is the best man for the job.

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ECB appoint Chris Silverwood as new England head coach

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