England head coach Chris Silverwood says he hopes the experience of their disappointing 3-1 Test series defeat by India can help the team regain the Ashes this winter as he and captain Joe Root eye up the world No 1 ranking.
England won the first Test match by 227 runs in Chennai, extending their run to six Test wins in a row away from home, but the tourists were then soundly beaten in the next three Tests.
“When you’re heading somewhere, there is always going to be a few bumps in the road,” Silverwood told reporters after England’s defeat by an innings and 25 runs in the fourth Test on Friday.
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“The experience, although it will hurt – none of us like losing a series – it won’t alter our outlook on what we’re trying to achieve. It’s an experience which will hopefully help galvanise the side.
“We’ve got some very fine young players – [Zak] Crawley, [Dom] Sibley, [Ollie] Pope, [Dan] Lawrence who has come in – and seeing these conditions, playing in different parts of the world, will in the long run do them a world of good.
“We could see them reap the rewards, hopefully, in Australia and help us win the Ashes there.”
Silverwood added: “The vision that Joe and I have got is that we become world No 1, and that we not only do that but we stay there.
“I think we’ve got the talent to do that – a very good mix of experience and youth – but not everything is going to go our way.
“We won six [away] Test matches in a row, but we know we’re not the finished article.
“It’s going to hurt for a while. There will be some reflecting, talk between the players and the various coaches, and hopefully we can pull the positives out of it and learn from them. That will make us stronger than before.”
‘No-one took India series lightly’
England’s packed schedule for 2021 has been much talked about, with seven further Test matches (two vs New Zealand, five vs India) to come this summer and then an Ashes tour on the horizon in the winter. There’s also a significant number of white-ball fixtures to account for, and with a T20 World Cup to play in October.
As well as the heavy fixture load, the difficulties of ‘bubble’ life in the post-coronavirus world is an added factor for the England management to consider with regards to the welfare of their players.
It resulted in a rest and rotation policy being adopted in India, with the likes of Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali missing certain games as they travelled home to be with their families.
“No-one took this series lightly, I can absolutely promise you that,” Sliverwood stressed. “We came here wanting to win this.
“We’ve done it [rotation] to the best of our ability. You look at the amount of cricket we’ve played and the amount we have in front of us, we’ve got to be proactive in looking after our players and making sure we keep them as fresh as possible, so we can keep them going for as long as possible as well.
“You want them to be happy and settled, and sometimes that means them seeing their families.
“We talk about working our way to the Ashes, I want the squad to arrive there fit and in form, both physically and mentally, as that is going to be a tough tour, we know that, and it’s one we are prioritising.
“I want to make sure that everyone arrives at that point in as good a place as possible. I don’t think it’s acceptable to push someone till they break and then try to pick them up then.”
‘I want Jofra fit for all forms of cricket’
One of England’s key players across all formats is fast bowler Jofra Archer, who missed the fourth Test in Ahmedabad due to an ongoing issue with his right elbow.
Silverwood said England’s medical staff are investigating the problem, adding that the injury could require “long term” management. Archer is currently back in training ahead of the T20 series in India, which starts on Friday.
“I wouldn’t say I’m concerned, no, but his elbow did flare up a little bit and the medical staff are managing that at the moment,” said Silverwood.
“Obviously we’ll monitor his progress. I’m not sure surgery has come up yet, I’ll be guided by the medics on that.
“The important thing for me at the moment is that Jofra gets every resource we can provide to make sure he does have a long and successful Test career.
“Once we decide on a course of action we take with Jofra we’ll be guided from there. I want Jofra to be fit for all forms of cricket.”
‘Unfair to write Bess off’
Silverwood also offered his thoughts on the struggles of 23-year-old off-spinner Dom Bess, who went wicketless in the fourth Test after being dropped for the previous two games.
Bess was targeted by India’s batsmen and only bowled 17 overs, for the cost of 71 runs, out of the 114.4 bowled in India’s first innings at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
“I think it’s unfair to write him off,” Silverwood said off Bess. “It’s not long ago he helped us to win three Test matches. Some perspective is needed there.
“He is, to a certain extent, learning on the job in Test cricket. And, up till now, he has done a fantastic job for us. We need to support him and help him come back.
“One things he does do is he tries 100 per cent every time he is on that field – with bat, ball or in the field.
“He is a great asset and very much part of this group. We will make sure he has every resource behind him, stay in touch. My telephone is on 24/7 for him, which he knows, if he ever wants a chat.”
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