Chris Silverwood tells England batters around Joe Root to 'step up'

Coach says Pope, Hameed, Moeen all in contention ahead of second Test against India

George Dobell
George Dobell
England coach Chris Silverwood at a nets session two days ahead of the first T20I, Cape Town, November 25, 2020

Chris Silverwood wants the support cast around Joe Root to come to the party  •  Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Chris Silverwood has called on England's top-order to "step up" and support Joe Root ahead of the second LV= Insurance Test at Lord's.
Root's 21st Test century - and the rain - helped England escape from Trent Bridge with a draw. But while Root looked in supreme touch, nobody else in the England side could score more than 32.
That left Silverwood admitting the team required more from its top-order batters, and contemplating several changes to the side with Ollie Pope, Haseeb Hameed and Moeen Ali all under consideration ahead of the Test that starts on Thursday.
"Yes, I think we do need to step up," Silverwood said. "Joe's been phenomenal for the last six months, really. But what we need to do is make sure that the guys that are batting with him are coming to the party as well. We need the guys around Joe scoring some more runs to take the pressure off him.
"It's one thing which we're talking about in the dressing room constantly. I'm encouraging conversations between the players and the coaches to try and find a solution for this to try and help them get better.
"We have to address and accept we are not getting those runs so we have to look at why. It's not through lack of effort. It's not a lack of hard work. It's just a case that we have to try and find a formula that works. That's a work in progress at the moment.
"We need to do something. Ideally, we get the guys scoring runs again and get the confidence back in them. But if that doesn't happen obviously I have to have a look.
"Does that mean there will be changes? It's something we've got to consider constantly. We have to make sure we've got the right people on the park.
"Ultimately, if it isn't working I have to take a view on why and how do I change that. I have invested in these guys. I would rather be accused of giving somebody one too many chances than not enough. But at some point I will have to make a decision."
Pope would have played in the first Test had he been deemed fit. As things stand, he is considered highly likely to be fit for Lord's and could well replace Dan Lawrence or Jonny Bairstow, though Silverwood's praise of Bairstow's first Test performance would suggest the former is more likely.
"Jonny lined up very well," Silverwood said. "It's the happiest I've seen Jonny in a while. He was very content going about his business in training. He's in a really good place at the moment and I was pleased with how he performed. Behind Joe, he looked [the most] reassured at the crease.
"Ollie is making all the right noises with his fitness. He wasn't quite ready for the first Test which is why I made that decision not to push him too hard. The next couple of days we'll find out more. I want him to be 100 percent right when we chuck him into the arena again."
Zak Crawley would appear to be the batter in the top-three under most pressure. Since his double-century against Pakistan last year, Crawley has averaged just 11.14 in 14 Test innings and reached 30 only once. While Silverwood remains convinced Crawley is a "real talent," he is also full of praise for Hameed, who scored a century against the tourists in a warm-up game in Durham a couple of weeks ago. Dom Sibley, meanwhile, was praised as he "helped out Joe massively" in a second-innings partnership that helped erase the first-innings deficit.
"I think it's clear we have got a real talent in Zak," he said. "You don't do what he did without having the talent. I think it's a case of finding a way for him to get going. How does get himself in; how does he manage the ball around off stump? I think it's an ongoing process but there's no doubt in my mind there's a heap of talent there capable of performing at this level.
"Dom helped Joe get us out of a hole. He did his job, yes. He helped out Joe massively.
"I'm confident Haseeb is as ready as he could be. He's doing everything he possibly can to make sure he's ready. He did put his best foot forward in Durham when he scored that hundred. What he did early season in the championship shows there's a lot of class there as well, so I think he's done everything he possibly can to be ready."
The one man from outside the current squad who is under consideration is Moeen. With England missing key allrounders in Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes, Moeen's presence would allow them to play a spinner without weakening the batting.
"Moeen is certainly under consideration," Silverwood said. "He's always been part of our consideration. So that's something that Joe and I are going to chat about at Lord's. We know he is a fine cricketer and we know he is showing fine form in the Hundred at the moment, though I appreciate it's a different format.
"Allrounders such Ben Stokes or Chris Woakes usually give you options all-round. Unfortunately, we've found ourselves squeezed through circumstance recently and we haven't been able to do that.
"Could Mo play at Lord's? All I'll say is my mind's not closed to anything. If it fits and works for the team then it's something we have to consider."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo