Chris Silverwood was described as “the standout candidate” after succeeding Trevor Bayliss as England head coach.
While Bayliss fulfilled his remit by helping England lift the World Cup for the first time, there is no escaping the conclusion that the Test side stagnated on his watch.
Here, the PA news agency looks at the issues facing Silverwood over the next few months as he takes the reins of an international side for the first time.
Spotlight back on Tests
Following a four-year cycle in which the limited-overs formats were prioritised because of a World Cup on home soil, England’s failure to regain the Ashes has led to a promise of a policy shift back towards Test cricket. Australia leaving these shores with the urn in tow for the first time since 2001 highlighted some glaring issues facing the side and winning them back in 2021-22 is high on the agenda. Having served as bowling coach for the last two years, Silverwood should have a few ideas on how to improve matters. Top of his to do list should be identifying a clear strategy alongside Root to take the side forward.
Blood new faces in New Zealand
Silverwood’s first assignment takes him to New Zealand for five Twenty20 internationals and two Tests, where there are a host of new faces in both squads. With the T20 World Cup a year away, it seems an ideal opportunity to test the likes of Pat Brown and Tom Banton, both of whom have impressed in the Vitality Blast this year. The Test series, meanwhile, does not count towards the World Test Championship so there is no need to take a risk with senior players who may still be feeling the effects of a punishing summer, which could present opportunities for Dom Sibley, Saqib Mahmood and Matthew Parkinson.
Since Silverwood joined Bayliss’ backroom team, England have been bowled out for less than 100 four times while under the Australian’s four-year tenure, they lost all 10 wickets in a session on four occasions, having never done so between 1938 and 2016. There were signs towards the end of the summer that England are ready to adopt a more sensible approach to their batting but a settled top three – in which ballast is preferred ahead of all-out aggression – would likely expedite proceedings.
Don’t forget about the white ball
Eoin Morgan’s unprecedented success as limited-overs captain means there should be no need for a dramatic upheaval while he remains at the helm. However, with T20 World Cups in 2020 and 2021, Silverwood cannot be entirely focused on England’s red-ball fortunes. It was therefore heartening to hear Ashley Giles, England and Wales Cricket Board managing director, speak of Silverwood’s “detailed thoughts on what it will take to win the Ashes in Australia and win major ICC white-ball tournaments”.
Following their visit to New Zealand, England head straight to South Africa for four Tests, three one-day internationals and three T20s, followed by a two-Test stop-off in Sri Lanka. It is an arduous winter schedule after an unrelenting summer – in which the likes of Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Root and many others barely had time to bask in their World Cup triumph before the Ashes – and leaves a number of core players at risk of burnout. If Silverwood is to get the best out of his troops, their workloads must be closely monitored.