NASSER HUSSAIN: Chris Silverwood and Joe Root have given England’s Test team the identity they craved under Trevor Bayliss
- Silverwood coming in 16 months ago has given Root a new focus as captain
- It has allowed him to make this England team his own and develop an identity
- They had struggled to find an identity with Trevor Bayliss and Eoin Morgan
- Root has flourished with a more old-fashioned approach under Silverwood
Chris Silverwood coming in as coach 16 months ago has given Joe Root a new focus and direction as captain.
It has allowed him to make this England team his own when previously it struggled to find an identity when Trevor Bayliss and Eoin Morgan made such a success of the limited-overs side.
Silverwood has given the Test side a new lease of life by providing Root with a new starting point for his captaincy.
Chris Silverwood (L) coming in as coach 16 months ago has given Joe Root (R) a new focus
Not only has he taken his batting to a new level through well-documented changes — his fitness regime, mental preparation and technical changes — but Root has brought a new dynamic to his leadership.
It is now very clear to see the direction in which the England team are heading.
Under Bayliss it was plodding along. He made a huge difference in white-ball cricket and gave us one of our best ever wins in the 2019 World Cup final at Lord’s.
But in Tests, the side invariably found themselves 20 for three. They were good at home, a bit clueless away and relied too heavily on three or four cricketers.
Root has flourished through the more old-fashioned approach he and Silverwood favour.
They struggled to find an identity when Trevor Bayliss (L) and Eoin Morgan (R) were at the helm
Whereas, Silverwood (above) has given the England Test side a new lease of life this year
They have picked players who have lots of first-class runs and batted for long periods. And they have not looked to fast-track white-ball cricketers.
That ‘attacking brand of cricket’ they used to talk about has been put away. The philosophy now is to play a winning brand of cricket. Ultimately, that is what supporters want to see.
It would be great if they could do both but previously when they attacked, they found themselves wickets down, chasing the game.
This team are more pragmatic — fair play to the coach for that.
Some doubted Silverwood when the ECB promoted an English coach. But he has been a success with Essex and now at international level. He’s liked, organised and isn’t flashy. He just knows what he wants in creating a side.
I also like the backroom staff he has picked — Graham Thorpe, Paul Collingwood and Jeetan Patel. Guys that I would want around; good, honest people who will tell you the truth, not just what you want to hear.
You judge a coach by how much players are improving. Dom Sibley is a fine example of someone who struggled in Sri Lanka, but went away, changed his mindset and technique, and is flourishing. Another is Jos Buttler, whose wicketkeeping is reflective of his general improvements.
Root has flourished through the more old-fashioned approach he and Silverwood favour
Silverwood has also given Root a new focus and direction as captain of the English side
There are numerous improvements within this side, in fact. Getting big runs in the first innings has been a hugely positive change, and that’s down to players wanting to make more significant individual scores.
Root deserves a lot of credit for this change in attitude, too, and in Chennai he was decisive with his batting and captaincy.
You can quibble about half an hour or 40 minutes of letting the game drift on the fourth evening, but from where they were heading 18 months ago, to put in that kind of performance in India was outstanding.
Root made some great decisions and stuck to his guns impressively on certain things. Even with 578 runs on the board, he wanted to give his inexperienced spinners cover with sweepers, to make them feel comfortable — because he knows it will make them better bowlers.
He isn’t bothered by the criticism of putting men back for protection. He is interested in getting his bowlers to perform at their best in search of 20 wickets.
It was also nice to see him backing Jack Leach by not taking him straight out of the attack after a pounding from Rishabh Pant on day three. You could see Leach grew in confidence after that.
It helps that he has world-class cricketers like Jimmy Anderson — who shut up those who say he cannot do it unless there is cloud cover overhead, and a Dukes ball in hand — at his disposal.
Not only has he taken his batting to a new level, Root has also improved his fitness levels
Root has handled Anderson and Stuart Broad — and Jofra Archer on Tuesday — brilliantly
Root got the timing of that spell spot on and it showed that captaincy in Asia is not just about the use of spin.
This winter, Root has handled Anderson and Stuart Broad — and Jofra Archer to a degree on Tuesday, when he bowled bouncers to Ravichandran Ashwin just before lunch — brilliantly.
He’s rotated his seamers, used them for specific forms of attack at different times and kept them fresh within games by using them in short bursts.
It was a really good toss to win, make no mistake. England will know if they lose it in the Tests coming up they will be up against it facing spin in the latter stages.
And don’t underestimate India. Look at what they managed to do in Australia last month — they will fight until the last ball.
But England could not have started any better. Very rarely do you orchestrate the perfect game from start to finish, but that is what Root has just done.
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