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News

Chris Silverwood insists he's 'right man for the job' as Ashes pressure mounts

Head coach defends selection in opening two Tests after heavy defeats at Brisbane, Adelaide

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
21-Dec-2021
Chris Silverwood is under mounting pressure  •  Getty Images

Chris Silverwood is under mounting pressure  •  Getty Images

Chris Silverwood has insisted that he is the right man for the job as England's head coach and that he picked the right team for the first two Tests of the Ashes, despite England's heavy defeats.
England's selection has come in for stinging criticism over the course of the first two Tests after James Anderson and Stuart Broad, their two senior seam bowlers, were left out on a green pitch in Brisbane with Jack Leach, the left-arm spinner, included.
On a dry Adelaide Oval surface, Leach was then omitted after returning an eye-watering analysis of 1 for 102 in 13 overs with Mark Wood also rested, and England resorted to using Joe Root's offbreaks, Dawid Malan's legbreaks and even Ollie Robinson's occasional offspin.
Asked by the BBC if he would pick the same teams again with the benefit of hindsight, Silverwood - England's chief selector after the sacking of Ed Smith earlier this year - opted to double down. "To be honest, I would," he said.
"There is always going to be divided opinion. You pick a team and not everybody's going to agree with you… [but] I was happy with the skillset we had in the pink-ball Test, so I would pick the same team again."
"I don't [accept we got it wrong]," he added at a subsequent press conference ahead of England's departure to Melbourne on Tuesday. "We picked the best attack for those conditions and you look at the attack we had out, there's a lot of experience. I was happy with that attack this game and I was happy with that attack last game as well."
Silverwood's job is under pressure after a run of nine defeats and only one win in England's last 11 Tests, but he maintained that he was the right man to help them recover from 2-0 down in the series.
"Am I the right man to help the players get better? Yes, I believe I am. We have had those honest chats and I believe I have the right coaching staff around me to make that happen as well.
"When you take a job like this you accept that [your job is on the line]. It is what it is. Do I believe I'm the right man? Yes I do, or I wouldn't have taken the job in the first place. You're under pressure constantly, aren't you?
"We knew it was going to be difficult when we came out here. Obviously we wanted to win but that is always going to be difficult. We have to be realistic about what we have, but we have to learn."
Joe Root's captaincy has also come under scrutiny in the aftermath of the Adelaide Test, after he highlighted England's lengths in the first innings and said that his seamers should have bowled fuller than they did. "We need to be a bit braver, get the ball up there a bit further because when we do, we're going to create chances and make life difficult," he said.
Root's comments went against Broad's insistence in his newspaper column that if England had bowled fuller, "because the ball did so little, our economy rates would have gone through the roof". Ricky Ponting, the former Australia captain, criticised Root's leadership on Tuesday, asking rhetorically: "If you can't influence your bowlers on what length to bowl, what are you doing on the field?"
Silverwood, however, said that England could "potentially" have pitched the ball up more, and admitted that they "have to be better" across the board in order to compete in the final three Tests, starting at the MCG on Boxing Day.
"We had a really good talk in the dressing room which was needed. There were a few things thrown out there. Joe is right," Silverwood. "We could have pitched it up further…potentially yes. But look at the lengths both teams bowled, they were very similar.
"We have to be better, it's as simple as that. It is not just batting and bowling. Look at how many chances we have given up in the field: dropped catches, missed run-outs and everything else.
"Wickets off no-balls are unacceptable. I brought it up last night: this cannot happen. It is a basic error. The lads accepted that. We have had batting collapses. We have spoken about the two in these games. We have had collapses before and we can't afford to do that.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98