Ashley Giles was in no mood on Monday to beat about the bush. First he told his best players that, for once, they must put England before the IPL. Then he cranked up the pressure by reminding coach Chris Silverwood the selectorial buck now stops with him.
The England managing director acted decisively and ruthlessly last month when he changed a structure England have used for more than 100 years by sacking national selector Ed Smith and creating an all-powerful supremo role for Silverwood.
Now he has made it clear the coach’s ‘head will be on the block’ should a huge year for English cricket end in failure at the Twenty20 World Cup and defeat in the Ashes.
Ashley Giles made ruthless changes by shaking up the selection structure of the England team
‘It’s a change I’ve been looking at for some time,’ said Giles, while denying he had any issues with the way the analytical Smith was doing his job.
‘This is not about personalities. The role of national selector didn’t exist any more because Chris is taking on full responsibility for picking the teams.
‘For me this is more modern and cleaner. Let the coach pick the team. His head is on the block. It’s a conversation I’ve had with Chris. If we lose in Australia, the pressure will be on all of us. You might as well have a free run at it. It’s your team.’
Not since the days of Ray Illingworth in the mid-1990s has an England coach wielded such power, but that reflects just how highly Giles regards a very different Yorkshireman in the understated and thoughtful Silverwood.
Giles admitted the move to sack Smith, who had a testy relationship with some senior players, might not have been made had Trevor Bayliss or another foreign coach been in charge.
Giles changed a structure England have used for more than 100 years by sacking national selector Ed Smith (left) and handing over his duties to coach Chris Silverwood (right)
FOUR FRINGE PLAYERS WHO COULD FEATURE VS NEW ZEALAND
Made a good impression in England bubbles over the last year and has made an excellent contribution to Gloucestershire’s outstanding start to the season. This orthodox left-hander is seen as a Test top three candidate who is more than useful with the gloves.
On a verbal promise from England that he will feature against New Zealand, the Sussex seamer has 25 wickets in four matches this season. With his Glenn McGrath-like qualities of height and bounce without express pace, he’s a candidate to play in the Ashes.
Already has home and away Ashes experience in his four Tests but has not featured since the defining Test of the 2019 series at Old Trafford. The older Overton twin has started this season with 32 wickets for Somerset and is quicker and more mature now at 27.
Unlikely England will look beyond Jack Leach for their spinner against New Zealand but so impressive has Parkinson been for Lancashire, including a ‘ball of the century’ to Northants’ Adam Rossington, that the leg-spinner could make the enlarged Test squad.
‘It certainly makes a difference when you have an English head coach,’ said the former England spinner and white-ball coach.
‘Chris has good relationships with county coaches and directors of cricket, because he’s done their job and knows our system very well. It would be more challenging for an overseas coach to do this role.
‘In essence, this is not really that different from having a national selector. You still have to trust what people tell you but ultimately, even though the two captains will still play a major part, it will come down to Chris to decide who is in that squad.’
Silverwood will be in action in his new role next week when he names an enlarged squad of up to 17 players, as revealed by Sportsmail, for the Tests against New Zealand at Lord’s on June 2 and Edgbaston on June 10. Players will go into a biosecure bubble for 10 days before the first Test.
It was assumed that the IPL players — stuck until the weekend in the Government-approved quarantine that they or their franchises have had to pay for — would now be in contention to face New Zealand after their premature return from India.
But not only did Giles make it clear he expected them to play for England rather than in the rearranged IPL in late September, he also suggested they would not be rushed back against New Zealand.
‘We’re going to treat it on a case-by-case basis,’ said Giles.
‘All these guys have had a number of spells in quarantine and bubbles over the last year. Some of it is their choice, I get that. But we need to look after them and won’t rush them back.
‘We have an awful lot of cricket coming up and we want to get this tapering towards the Ashes. We have to get that right. Is that by playing everyone against New Zealand? I don’t know. We may look at some new faces.’
That means opportunity will almost certainly knock for the uncapped James Bracey and Ollie Robinson, while there should be a recall for Craig Overton — outstanding for Somerset in the early weeks of the season. Ben Foakes is also likely to play his first Test cricket in England.
England will tread with caution concerning the fitness of lead bowler Jofra Archer ahead of Test matches against New Zealand from the start of June
Ben Stokes, who badly broke a finger in his first match of this year’s IPL, will definitely miss out while Dom Sibley could run out of time in returning from a fractured digit of his own.
There is also a minor injury scare over Warwickshire paceman Olly Stone, and England are reluctant to risk Jofra Archer should there be any soreness in his troublesome right elbow.
Sportsmail revealed on Saturday that England felt Archer only operated at 80 per cent on his return for Sussex Seconds last week and he will be expected to bowl full-out in the nets on Tuesday before they decide if he will face Kent on Thursday.
Even if he does play at Hove this week and reports no pain, it is clear England will take no risks with the crown jewel of their bowling line-up.
Silverwood will need Archer up his sleeve later this year. His job, as Giles would attest, may even depend on it.