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England should be proud of ensuring the show did go on - Chris Silverwood

Against all the odds, England completed their full schedule of 18 international fixtures this summer

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
England coach Chris Silverwood addresses his players in training  •  Getty Images

England coach Chris Silverwood addresses his players in training  •  Getty Images

Chris Silverwood, England's head coach, says that his team should be proud of their role in ensuring that the show went ahead this summer, despite their disappointment at losing out to Australia in a thrilling finish to the men's international season on Wednesday night.
Against all the odds, England completed their full schedule of 18 international fixtures this summer, thanks to the ECB's innovative use of bio-secure environments at Emirates Old Trafford and the Ageas Bowl, as well as the players' willingness to subject themselves to lengthy periods in isolation.
And for that reason, Silverwood believes that the bigger picture must take precedence over the minutiae of England's three-wicket defeat in the decider at Old Trafford, a result that deprived them of a clean sweep of trophies this summer, and ended the world champions' five-year unbeaten run in home ODI series.
"We look back with a lot of pride to be honest," he said. "It's always disappointing to lose. But if you put it in perspective, you go back to April when we were all wondering if we'd get cricket on, to actually play a full international calendar and to be taking part in some fantastic games is nothing short of exceptional.
"I think a lot of credit needs to go to all those people involved in that whether that be players, staff, ECB, the hotels, grounds - everybody involved who has made this happen because it's been absolutely fantastic. I think cricket as a whole has won."
England looked to have won as well, when Australia slumped to 73 for 5 in reply to a daunting target of 303, a situation that appeared to worsen when Alex Carey, on 9, holed out to third man, only to be reprieved when the third umpire signalled that Jofra Archer had overstepped.
From that point onwards, Carey and Glenn Maxwell wrested control of the contest, each posting centuries in a magnificent record-breaking stand of 212 - albeit with a few further slices of luck, notably when Jos Buttler reprieved Maxwell on 44.
And though there was another late surge of belief from England, as they prised out both men to take the contest into the final over, they would this time be made to pay for their errors. Mitchell Starc duly finished the game with the same aplomb as he had begun it, cracking 11 not out from three balls to go alongside his two-in-two at the top of England's own innings, to seal the series with two balls to spare.
"We won't be getting too down about it," Silverwood said. "There are things we can work on - fielding is one thing we've started pushing coming into this series and we need to continue to work on that because we can always improve.
"But it was a hard-fought series to be honest, two good teams going at each other and it's provided some really entertaining cricket. We've seen some exceptional individual performances in there and we saw an exceptional partnership between two players and they won the game for them. Sometimes you've got to say well done to the opposition."
A further positive for England came in the challenge provided by Old Trafford's surfaces, which were a far cry from the belters on which England honed their hard-hitting strategies ahead of the 2019 World Cup.
In spite of the 2-1 defeat, England's skills with bat and ball held up well in conditions that were similar to those they might face in India in 2023. However, as Silverwood acknowledged, a certain degree of ruthlessness was lacking, perhaps understandably, given both the summer's strange circumstances, and the obvious comedown from the highs of 2019.
"I think the passion is there, the desire is still there, so I think it will come from within," he said. "The wicket for the first two games was a difficult wicket, it's not the type of wicket we're used to playing on with our expansive game. So that was a different challenge for us.
"It certainly wasn't through any lack of effort or passion, but I don't think we have performed at our best," he added. "There's a few more gears in there for us and we've got to continually strive to improve and keep pushing the boundaries because the last thing I want is for the guys to go into their shell.
"I want them to come out of it more. If we get pushed, we want to push back harder, we want to break records. It's what these guys do, they don't know what limits are, so we'll just keep trying to create an environment where they feel they'll break records."
In the medium- to long-term, however, that environment may have to be very similar to the one that the players have just endured. For as Silverwood acknowledged, there is no obvious end in sight to the pandemic, and no certainty as to whether their winter tours of South Africa in December and India and Sri Lanka in the new year will be able to take place as scheduled.
"There's quite a bit up in the air but we're hopeful," said Silverwood. "We're learning every day of how we deal with Covid and hopefully if we continue to do that, we'll play. But [the bubble] has been successful here and if we can do it so can other countries. Getting cricket on everywhere around the world is what we all want."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @miller_cricket