Why England chose Chris Silverwood to succeed Trevor Bayliss as head coach

Harry Latham-Coyle
The Independent

Chris Silverwood will be the new England cricket head coach, stepping up from his current role as bowling coach to succeed Trevor Bayliss at the helm.

Bayliss stepped down at the end of his contract at the close of the Ashes, and Silverwood, who has been with the England set-up since the start of last year, will take charge ahead of England’s tour of New Zealand.

Ashley Giles, director of cricket for the England and Wales Cricket Board, referred to the former Essex head coach as ”the outstanding candidate” after he impressed during the interview process.

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Described by former England captain Nasser Hussain as a “safe pair of hands”, Silverwood will provide a degree of continuity in the set-up.

But why else has the 44-year-old been appointed?

Impressive coaching portfolio

First and foremost, Silverwood would not have got the job were he not qualified for the position.

If England are to rebuild their Test side, appointing a coach with proven red-ball success was vital, and when Silverwood’s CV is taken as a whole, it looks rather impressive.

Appointed as Essex head coach for the 2016 season, Silverwood won the County Championship Division Two title in his first season at the club.

And he followed that by going one better, storming to the Division One crown in 2017. He also helped lay the groundwork for Essex’s double of this season, and showed an ability to develop and integrate youth during his time at Chelmsford.

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Since joining England as bowling coach he has developed the bowling corps, which now looks more adaptable and consistent across different conditions.

Giles’ English desire and Kirsten’s interview flop

It is understood that Ashley Giles always favoured Silverwood ahead of other candidates given his preference for an English coach, but it seemed last week that Gary Kirsten was favourite for the role.

The South African was the front-runner until the interview process – believed to have also included Ottis Gibson and Alec Stewart, who could not be tempted away from Surrey – but dropped away after disappointing in front of the three-man panel.

Kirsten was supposedly unwilling to commit all of his time to England, perhaps skipping certain tours, and would also have been more costly.

Gary Kirsten missed out on the role after a lacklustre interview (Getty)
Gary Kirsten missed out on the role after a lacklustre interview (Getty)

The appointment would also have further unsettled those in the county game. The ECB has earned little goodwill by appointing eight overseas coaches - including, incidentally, Kirsten - for the men’s sides to take part in The Hundred next year.

Conversely, Silverwood produced a solid interview, displaying forward-thinking and sound planning to earn him the job.

Existing relationships with players

Giles particularly highlighted Silverwood’s working relationships with England’s white and red ball captains Eoin Morgan and Joe Root in his announcement.

Carrying over a coach in such a manner, albeit in a different role, ensures there will be no ingratiation from a new man, and new boundaries will not need to be set.

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Silverwood will understand Morgan and Root’s temperaments, and vice versa, which should ease the transition.

Equally, those within the set-up seem to like Silverwood, amicably known as “Spoons”. Stuart Broad especially has talked up his impact, with the veteran seamer looking a rejuvenated figure this summer with a tweaked run-up and action.

Ensuring continuity, but providing a fresh voice

Also talked up in the announcement was Silverwood’s “intimate understanding” of England’s ”structures and systems.”

That should ease the succession process, but given most agreed England could do with a fresh voice at the helm, some have suggested the appointment of Silverwood is a short-sighted and unexciting one.

Yet he is very much his own man, with his own ideas and thoughts, and given he only joined the set-up last year, not entirely allied to the Bayliss way as Paul Farbrace, for example, might have been had the former England assistant still been in the frame.

Silverwood guided Essex to the County Championship Division One title in 2017 (Getty)
Silverwood guided Essex to the County Championship Division One title in 2017 (Getty)

Bayliss was accused of being too hands off with the players, creating a laid back air that was often detrimental, and Silverwood will be aware of that, and may favour a slightly more hands-on approach.

Repairing county connections

Another criticism of Bayliss was his general dismissal of the county game. The Australian, very much an outsider, was not at all embedded in the English domestic system, watching little county cricket.

Conversely, Silverwood very much is after such success at Essex, and will be able to draw on the opinions of former colleagues and combatants around the England game.

He will be aware of many of the players on the circuit, too, which should help those coming in to or on the fringes of the England set-up feel more at ease as they take their first international footsteps.

With the domestic structure undergoing significant changes at the moment, this should be a major positive for the health of the English game, with a closer relationship between the national team and the county system.

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