Joe Root has given Chris Silverwood his enthusiastic backing to stay on as England head coach after the Ashes tour.
Silverwood’s job is under immense pressure after his team surrendered the Ashes in 12 days of cricket and lost nine Tests in 2021, a record for a calendar year.
England drew in Sydney last week when Graham Thorpe was in charge of the team in the absence of Silverwood, who was isolating with his family in Melbourne. Silverwood rejoined the tour in Hobart on Tuesday.
His future will be determined by the end of tour review compiled by Ashley Giles, the team director, who has stayed on with the squad in Hobart, and should be decided before the Test team goes to the West Indies next month.
Silverwood was Root’s choice for the job when he was appointed in 2019 and even though there was little else he could say other than publicly support the coach with the series still ongoing, he could have skirted the question like Pat Cummins did when asked about Justin Langer earlier in the series.
“Yes I would,” said Root when asked if he wants Silverwood to carry on. “It was a difficult week for the group of players with him not being around and it must have been very difficult for him. But I think the performances we put in during the first three games, I feel we’ve let him and the coaches down to a degree.
“We’ve not played anywhere near the level we’re capable of. It’s a chance to do that this week. I think he’s very calm, he has the respect of the guys in the group and he’s got a desperation to see everyone do well or upskill the players as best he can.
“I think he’s had a very difficult time of it with the environment’s we’ve been living in, trying to manage winning games of cricket with bubble environments away from home, multi-format players trying to prepare for an Ashes and a World Cup, it’s very difficult.
“For a long time we’ve not been able to put our best teams out because we’ve been constantly trying to make sure from a mental wellbeing point of view everyone is looked after properly, because of the schedule we’ve dealt with over two years.”
Root has decisions of his own to make. He is expected to stay on as Test captain, announcing it after he gets home, but first has to decide whether to put himself in the IPL auction, which takes place over two days from Feb 7, and papers have to be lodged by the end of the week.
“I have not made a decision on that just yet. It is something I will have to keep wrestling with. The thing I will weigh up is will it have a negative impact on me playing Test cricket for this team.
“If I don’t then I will put myself in that position to play and put myself in the auction but I will never compromise or do anything that will detract from playing Test cricket for England. It is so important to make sure that is the priority for me and other players as well.”
Jonny Bairstow looked to be in pain from his broken right thumb when he batted in the nets while Ben Stokes did only light training. Sam Billings worked for a lengthy period with James Foster, the wicket-keeping coach, and will make his Test debut after Jos Buttler went home with a broken finger. James Anderson is unlikely to play after fading in Sydney with Ollie Robinson set to return.
“[Billings] would be a very capable replacement, he’s been around the teams a long time, he’s had to deal with being a water boy, if you like, for a large part of his career,” said Root.
“But he’s managed himself and his game really well. Through those experiences around the world he’s certainly taken the opportunity to learn from experienced players and ex-players to upskill himself. It’s testament to him to be able to do that and if given the opportunity he’ll give everything. He’s already added a huge amount of energy to the group.”
England’s old guard must seize last chance to secure Test win Down Under
By Nick Hoult
For many of England’s travelling squad the Hobart Test is a last chance to win in Australia and at least claim some sort consolation for all the pain down the years.
Zak Crawley, Joe Root, Ollie Pope and Ben Stokes (although not certain) will probably have more chances to win an Ashes Test in Australia.
But for Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes, and of course, Stuart Broad and James Anderson this is a last shot.
Anderson has won before in 2010/11 but more than a decade of Ashes cricket since then has returned 13 played, zero won, 11 lost and two drawn for England’s greatest bowler.
Anderson’s last act in Ashes cricket in Australia could be blocking the final over in Sydney, his place in Hobart depends on how he bowls in training on Thursday and whether he can get through a fourth Test of a series after looking spent in the second innings earlier this week.
Broad’s 2010/11 experience was largely as a television viewer at home. He took his best figures in Australia at the Gabba but badly ripped a side muscle during the second Test in Adelaide, and played no further part. He bowled 29.5 overs in that Adelaide Test – his only victory on an Ashes tour.
Root has played 13 Ashes Tests in Australia and never tasted victory. Bairstow is on his third Ashes winless tour too. He, like Wood and Woakes, is 32 and with the inevitable churn of players after this series it is hard to predict with any certainty outside of Root which of the over-30s will be back in 2025/26.