|Dated: June 2-6 Time: 11:00 BST Location: Lord|
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For almost anyone who knows him, Chris Silverwood is “Spoons”.
Now he also wears a different label – that of the most powerful man in the England squad, not only the coach but also with the responsibility of selection.
On the one hand, you might be wondering how it was not until 2021 that England move away from the traditional model separation between coach and chief selector. After all, it’s the coach who tries to deliver the results, and football and rugby bosses have had that kind of power for years.
Yet for all of their accomplishments and clear popularity with players, England have always taken a leap forward for Silverwood, 46.
By his own admission, he fell into coaching. As he played for Middlesex seconds towards the end of a career with six tests and seven one-day internationals for England, he caught wind of coaching opportunities in Zimbabwe.
This led Silverwood to Harare, in charge of the Mashonaland Eagles for their 2009-10 campaign, a world far from the comforts of England and county cricket.
“He was placed in a house full of bugs and spiders,” said Greg Lamb, the former Zimbabwe all-rounder who played under Silverwood.
“They hadn’t cleaned him properly. It wasn’t nice and he wasn’t happy, so the players put him in spare rooms.
“At that point, Zimbabwe was just emerging from its slump. When we played outside, we stayed in lodges which were not very well maintained. Everything was rustic and static in time.
“It was a bit of a culture shock for him.”
Cultural challenges weren’t just off the field. Silverwood faced challenges in Zimbabwe that he would have rarely seen in the England game.
“There are different religions, colors, and different beliefs about how to do this,” says Lamb.
“He got on well with the white and black players and made them one, which is quite difficult to do in Zimbabwe.”
Mashonaland won the Logan Cup, Zimbabwe’s first-class competition, in what turned out to be Silverwood’s only season in charge. With his family not moving to southern Africa, the former Yorkshire bowler took a job as a bowling coach in Essex for the 2010 season.
If, as a player, training wasn’t something Silverwood had given much thought to, he had now started aiming for the top.
“He was disappointed not to have been chosen more for England,” said former Essex seaman David Masters. “He wanted to become better as a coach than as a player.
“He said: ‘I haven’t played enough for England, I wanted to play more, but I want to coach England.” That was his goal since I first met him. “
Silverwood rose through the ranks at Chelmsford. Bowling coach, second team coach, assistant head coach and finally head coach, leading Essex to successive Division Two and Division One County Championship titles in 2016 and 2017.
“We were playing against Leicestershire at Southend,” Masters recalls. “I had a wicket on my first visit and I should have had two.
“At the end of the end I came down with a thin leg and he was there. He asked me what was going on and I said ‘that’s all kinds – we’re going to play them tonight.’ He said. said ‘if you play them out tonight, I’ll give you a bottle of champagne’.
“We beat them for 36 and I got 8-10. The next day, true to his word, he brought this bottle of champagne.”
Masters says Silverwood wanted to play a role in England at the earliest opportunity. The chance of become a bowling coach under then-head coach Trevor Bayliss arrived in early 2018.
“From the moment he came for the interview he spoke quietly but confident, well organized and knew the game,” said Bayliss of Australia.
“When it came to pacing the bowling, he knew his craft. It was easy to see the respect he commanded the players. It was something he earned even before he got to the setup of the. England.
“He probably had aspirations to do the job he does now, and he was using it as a stepping stone.”
In public, Silverwood says little, but those inside the locker room are talking about a man with a playful sense of humor.
In some ways he and Bayliss are kindred spirits. They will rarely offer the “hair dryer” treatment, instead trusting the players and focusing on a calm and relaxed environment which they believe is the best route to success.
“The days of ranting and raving are over from the game,” said Bayliss, who led England to World Cup glory before retiring in 2019.
“What you’re looking for at this level is for coaches to come in and do the hard work without needing to be prompted.
“He didn’t have to say what to do. He came in and did his job, not just from a bowling point of view. He was hitting holds, fielding, throwing balls at the beaters. C ‘is an indication that he has a head. -the coaching abilities in him. “
When Ashley Giles, England’s cricket manager, was discussing Bayliss’ successor ahead of Silverwood’s appointment in the fall of 2019, he spoke of the desire for the new head coach to be English. Before Silverwood took control, England had only had a home coach twice in the previous 20 years – and in both cases it was Peter Moores.
By giving Silverwood even more influence, Giles may have made it more difficult for overseas coaches who have no ties to county cricket to take the England job in the future.
“It certainly would have been almost impossible to do from my point of view,” says Bayliss.
“If that were to happen with someone, it’s better suited to a local coach, rather than someone from overseas.”
For his part, Silverwood recognizes the responsibility that now rests on his shoulders.
“People will look at me directly if things go wrong but, in the same way, if things go well, you will get the rewards,” he says.
“I’m sure if some players think I’m straying from the track, they’ll tell me.”
Silverwood accepts that his relationship with the players may change, but says he’s “still the same ‘Spoons’ everyone can talk to.”
He assumes a level of power over the England men’s team never seen since Raymond Illingworth was the “ supreme ” for 11 tests in the mid-1990s.
“The reality is if the team isn’t doing well then the coach is under pressure,” said Silverwood.
“We’ve seen it all before. What’s the difference now?”