England selector Ed Smith says there is “a sense of a new journey” beginning in the national setup, as Chris Silverwood prepares to take the reins of the Test side for the first time.
Silverwood, who succeeded Trevor Bayliss as Head Coach last month, faces New Zealand in his first assignment in the top job, with a five-match T20I series being followed by two Tests.
England’s Test batting has come under scrutiny in recent years, with the national side having not passed 400 in an innings for over a year – and Smith feels Silverwood and skipper Joe Root may now formulate a fresh approach to the red-ball game, with a higher premium placed on crease occupation.
“There’s an opportunity to form the side around the way Joe and Chris want to approach Test cricket, and we will support it through selection,” said Smith
“Joe’s team has had high moments but it’s also had batting collapses and disappointments.
“He is an intelligent and thoughtful person who cares passionately about England cricket and this is an exciting moment for him, with a new coach and others such as Mo (Bobat, Performance Director) determined to drive things forward.
“He also knows there’s a collective will to help the Test team. That’s something that’s been talked about at senior level.
“You’re always reviewing the best approach – it was never our view that we wanted to turn the Test team into the white-ball team.”
Smith’s eighteen months as selector have become characterised by his use of a broader pool of England players, with experienced performers spending time on the sidelines.
Stuart Broad is one of those to have experienced time out of the side in recent months, the Notts seamer having missed Tests in Sri Lanka and the West Indies, while wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow is the biggest name omitted from the latest Test squad.
Smith is adamant that international cricket will become more of a squad game in years to come, in line with other professional sports.
“Selection strategy is going to require nimbleness, adaptability and awareness as to where players are,” he said.
“Eddie Jones was asked after England’s quarter-final win against Australia if he felt vindicated in his decision to drop George Ford. He said ‘we didn’t drop him, we changed his role — welcome to modern rugby’.
“Baseball got there in 1880, football in 1990, rugby in the 2010s, and cricket’s moving in that direction.”
“You have a strong core based around a strong leader, but there’s got to be room for people taking time out when they need a physical and mental — or technical — recharge. Then there’s always a way back.”
“That will be one way selectors can really contribute to successful teams — thinking about the person and having a strong sense of care, supporting them emotionally and psychologically, so if a crunch point is coming you manage it the best way.”
International cricket is back at Trent Bridge in 2020, with England hosting a Test against Pakistan and an ODI against Ireland.
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