‘His best qual­ity is re­mov­ing pres­sure’

Tim Wig­more dis­cov­ers the at­tributes that could help Sil­ver­wood pave a way for English coaches

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Cricket -

While the rain lashed down at Scar­bor­ough, Ryan ten Doeschate, Es­sex’s cap­tain, was sit­ting in the shower, stew­ing. It was the sum­mer of 2017, and, with Es­sex on course for their first County Cham­pi­onship in 25 years, Ten Doeschate feared that the side were squan­der­ing a dom­i­nant po­si­tion in the match.

“I didn’t want the play­ers to see my frus­tra­tion,” Ten Doeschate re­calls. In­stead, he sought out head coach Chris Sil­ver­wood. “I vented to him pri­vately. He burst out laugh­ing, put his arm around me and told me, ‘Chill out’.”

When the rain stopped, Ten Doeschate made 88, mar­shalling the tail adroitly to en­sure Es­sex got a three-fig­ure lead, set­ting up an em­phatic win.

It is pro­vid­ing calm in pres­surised sit­u­a­tions that Ten Doeschate con­sid­ers Sil­ver­wood’s great­est at­tribute. “His big­gest qual­ity is to take the pres­sure away from the play­ers. It’s the most ba­sic and most im­por­tant skill as a coach, not eas­ily im­ple­mented, but one that he had mas­tered from the start.”

In his first sea­son as head coach, in 2016, Sil­ver­wood led Es­sex to the Divi­sion Two ti­tle, end­ing years of un­der-per­for­mance in the red-ball game. Sil­ver­wood then im­plored his side to “dream big”, and they promptly cruised to the Divi­sion One ti­tle with two games to spare, re­main­ing un­beaten.

Cul­ture was cen­tral to his suc­cess. “His driv­ing phi­los­o­phy was ‘above-the-line be­hav­iour’,” Ten Doeschate ex­plains. “He changed the fo­cus to lads look­ing af­ter each other and per­for­mances fol­lowed. He was big on at­ti­tude and be­hav­iour.”

It was in­struc­tive that, when Sil­ver­wood’s ap­point­ment was an­nounced, Ashley Giles high­lighted his work “de­vel­op­ing the team’s cul­ture” as bowl­ing coach. Giles has per­sis­tently em­pha­sised the im­por­tance of cul­ture since he took over as di­rec­tor of Eng­land men’s cricket. Sil­ver­wood is re­garded as a safe cus­to­dian of the val­ues that Giles wants Eng­land to em­body – play­ing tough cricket on the field, but also be­ing the most re­spected side in the world and a team with in­tegrity on and off the field.

At Es­sex, where he had been bowl­ing coach for six years, Sil­ver­wood showed that he could trans­form a cul­ture from within. And, sim­i­larly, he has im­pressed with Eng­land since tak­ing over as bowl­ing coach in 2017.

The range of ex­pe­ri­ences in Sil­ver­wood’s ca­reer – the skills that claimed 577 first-class wick­ets, bal­anced with the dis­ap­point­ment of an Eng­land de­but at 21 only lead­ing to a ca­reer of six Tests and

‘It’s the most cru­cial skill as a coach, but one he had mas­tered from the start’

seven one-day in­ter­na­tion­als – have in­formed his work with the bowlers. He is renowned for his fo­cus on mind­set and strat­egy. He has also de­vel­oped a good rap­port with Eng­land cap­tains Eoin Mor­gan and Joe Root.

Although he has been im­mersed in pro­fes­sional cricket his en­tire adult life, Sil­ver­wood is also re­cep­tive to new wis­dom. “He was open to broader ideas – strate­gic ideas, sport­ing ideas or men­tor­ing ideas,” Derek Bow­den, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Es­sex, re­calls. “He in­jected a dif­fer­ent ap­proach into the team and the sup­port staff.”

For all his qual­i­ties, Sil­ver­wood’s na­tion­al­ity is also cen­tral to his ap­peal. Eng­land have been lam­basted for the ab­sence of English head coaches in the men’s Hun­dred com­pe­ti­tion. There has never been an English head coach in the In­dian Pre­mier League and James Foster, the head coach of the St Lu­cia Stars, is the only English­man in charge of ei­ther a ma­jor T20 fran­chise abroad or an­other Test na­tion. Giles has de­clared el­e­vat­ing more English coaches to be a pri­or­ity. Given the first chance, he has been as good as his word.

And so it is not only all Eng­land sup­port­ers who will wish Sil­ver­wood well; it is also the next gen­er­a­tion of Eng­land coaches. For, should Sil­ver­wood suc­ceed, he will make English coaches more at­trac­tive the world over.

Play­ing pedi­gree: Chris Sil­ver­wood in 2002 dur­ing one of his six Tests

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