Michael Atherton cannot see Chris Silverwood keeping role as England head coach after Ashes defeat – but says Yorkshireman has not been helped by having to combine role of coach and national selector; Nasser Hussain says Silverwood ‘incredibly vulnerable’ after string of Test losses
Last Updated: 28/12/21 1:46pm
Head coach Chris Silverwood is in the firing line after England’s painful Ashes series defeat – and he was not spared on the latest Sky Sports Cricket Podcast.
Rob Key believes Silverwood – whose side have lost nine of their last 12 Tests – has looked “out of his depth” having been asked to take on the dual role of coach and national selector.
Nasser Hussain feels the former Essex coach is “incredibly vulnerable”, while Michael Atherton says he would be surprised if Silverwood survives in the wake of an Ashes tour that is spiralling out of control.
Read on for the pundits’ thoughts on the under-pressure England boss or listen as part of the podcast…
ROB KEY – Silverwood looks out of his depth
“In interviews, with decisions and everything that has happened, Silverwood looks so out of his depth.
“When [managing director of cricket] Ashley Giles turned round to him and said, ‘I am getting rid of Ed Smith as national selector, you are now in charge of everything’, I hope he got paid well!
“It put him in a position he is just not capable of. I don’t know many coaches that would have been capable of it.
“You probably needed one of the most astute, one of the blokes with the most amount of credibility, who knew more about Test cricket than anyone else
“The captain, Joe Root, needed help, was crying out for help, and I don’t think Silverwood has been that man at any stage.
“Some of this did happen when Ed Smith was a selector, don’t get me wrong, but Silverwood is so out of his depth.
“With a coach, it’s about what a captain needs. Eoin Morgan is fine with a Silverwood because Morgan is brilliant leader.
“I would love to see how Root would get on with a Ricky Ponting, a Mahela Jayawardene, a Gary Kirsten, a Stephen Fleming. Someone who knows the game inside out.”
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Former England spinner Monty Panesar believes Joe Root should continue as the Test captain regardless of results in Australia
NASSER HUSSAIN – Some decisions have been shocking
“When England went down the rotation policy at the start of the year, Athers sat on one of our podcasts and said let’s judge Silverwood by results at the end of year.
“Well, England have lost nine Test matches, their worst-ever year. Those results speak for themselves so I think he is incredibly vulnerable.
“Also, are cricketers getting better under this set-up or are they getting worse? I definitely don’t see them getting better, especially in the batting.
“When you take on that role as head selector and the accountability stops at your door, you had better make sure you win games and make good decisions. Some of the decisions have been shocking.
The problems with England’s red-ball batting are not about Silverwood. Everyone wants their bit of blood, someone to fall on their sword, but make a change if you think it is going to improve our cricket. Don’t do it because someone needs to be axed, do it because it is the right thing to do.
“Australia have played the right side throughout. England are selecting the right sides but at the wrong venues. The decision making on this tour has been abysmal – and not just on this tour.
“You go back to Ahmedabad against India earlier this year with four seamers under lights and then 28 of the 30 wickets fell to spin and the game was over in two days. There is a history of errors with decisions.
“You go back to Lord’s against New Zealand in June when there was a full house and the potential of a run chase, yet Root and Silverwood felt we were not good enough to even try to chase a score down. That tells you something about where this team thinks they are mentally.
“There are mitigating circumstances. England play more Test cricket than anyone else and the coach does, in Covid times, need to look after the mental wellbeing of his players.
“He has done that and I applaud him for that but it has left him in a very precarious position. We all know you are judged on results and performances and both have been shocking this year.”
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Rob Key says England’s innings defeat in Melbourne was ‘one of the worst Ashes defeats ever’ after Joe Root’s side were bowled out for just 68
MICHAEL ATHERTON – Hard to see Silverwood surviving
“I can’t see a situation where Silverwood will survive this tour. All the responsibility lies with him as that’s the way Giles has set things up.
“Previously you had the national selector and that responsibility was slightly diffused. You didn’t quite know who to blame as you had the captain, the coach and the national selector.
“But the way Giles has set things up, there is only one man to blame, even though there are deeper issues than the blame game.
“The danger now is you go down this football route. If you pile all the responsibility and accountability on one man then if and when things go wrong, that is what will happen.
“That’s what happens in football, where you get this merry-go-round of losing managers every time there is a downturn in results. I think that is an unhealthy situation to have.
“As I say, I don’t think Silverwood will survive this tour but I think it was a strategic mistake to make the change Giles made by getting ride of a national selector and loading all this responsibility onto one man.
“I think there is an absence of authority more generally at the ECB. It’s an ECB without a chairman and they have one or two issues off the field which have been well-publicised.
“Now the downturn in The Ashes is throwing a spotlight on the authority at the heart of the England team with Silverwood, Root, who is at the end of his cycle, and Giles, who is making the strategic decisions.
“I think there are real problems at the heart of the ECB with what you might call the authority – or the lack of authority.”