Silverwood eager to begin challenge of improving England’s Test side

Chris Silverwood is relishing the challenge of attempting to improve England’s Test fortunes after starting his reign as head coach with a dramatic Twenty20 series victory over New Zealand.

England edged out the Black Caps following a second Super Over between the teams in the space of four months in their Auckland decider, but there is precious little time for celebration or reflection.

Preparations for the two-Test series against the same opponents begin in earnest on Tuesday with a two-day warm-up at the Cobham Oval in Whangarei versus a New Zealand XI in their first red-ball assignment since the Ashes.

Chris Silverwood, right, replaced Trevor Bayliss as England head coach (Mike Egerton/PA)
Chris Silverwood, right, replaced Trevor Bayliss, left, as England head coach (Mike Egerton/PA)

England’s failure to regain the urn on home soil for the first time in 18 years after a 2-2 series draw was a source of disappointment, while their batting in recent months and years has become a particular cause for concern.

They have been bowled out in a session four times since 2016 while, in the last year alone, they have been skittled in double figures on three occasions.

Silverwood has already begun thinking about ways to eliminate these collapses and is bullish they can start the process in the forthcoming series against the Kiwis and then in the four Tests in South Africa on their next tour.

The Yorkshireman said: “I’m an eternal optimist. We’ll go into every series looking to win but also to improve all the time. If we push ourselves forward, that will naturally put ourselves into positions to win.

“The big thing for me is if we can come away from a Test series having started that journey, the method of batting for a long time, putting runs on the board.

“It doesn’t mean just blocking it, you’re looking to score runs, big runs.

“If we can come away having started that process, galvanising people and figuring out their roles, then it will be a success. I’m very much looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into the longer format now.”

Following an exhausting World Cup and Ashes summer, England rested a number of their all-format campaigners from the five T20s, while those who featured in the 3-2 win must immediately switch attention to the Test schedule.

The likes of Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer joined the red-ball specialists in Auckland towards the end of last week and travelled with the rest of the squad and management on the journey north to Whangarei on Monday.

England’s plan for the first practice match is to bat on one day and bowl on the other before a more competitive three-day fixture against New Zealand A at the same venue at the back end of this week.

Darren Gough will oversee England's fast bowlers in a consultancy role (John Walton/PA)
Darren Gough will oversee England’s fast bowlers in a consultancy role (John Walton/PA)

Silverwood quipped: “We don’t like to rest, it’s against the rules apparently!

“As you know (the Test squad) have been here a while, the reports have come back that they’ve been very focused and trained really hard. But it’s a new competition, new players, new energy and a real excitement about the place.”

Silverwood’s promotion from fast bowling coach means Darren Gough will oversee the seamers in a consultancy role for the warm-ups but depart before the first Test gets under way in Mount Maunganui on November 21.

Silverwood said of his former Yorkshire and England team-mate: “I know what energy he brings to the dressing room from playing with him before.

Joe Root's position in England's Twenty20 side is far from secure (Martin Rickett/PA)
Joe Root’s position in England’s Twenty20 side is far from secure (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I just thought it would be a great experience for the younger fast bowlers to talk to him about the various skills he had. The skills he was good at then are still very relevant.

“It’s difficult to appoint a permanent guy at the moment, we’re on the road, buzzing around, it’s difficult to do the due process.”

While Root will be at the forefront as England try to reinvigorate themselves in Tests, the Yorkshireman was given no assurances about retaining his T20 place.

Silverwood added: “It’s a conversation that myself, Eoin Morgan and the selectors have got to have.”

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