All I’m saying is this: if you’re handed the honour of serving as the new head coach of the national team, the least you can do is make a whole series of rash pronouncements about precisely what you’re going to do – even though you know for a fact it’ll all be held against you further down the line.
Cricket is not politics. Coaches aren’t elected, so they don’t need to go to the public with their manifestos. All of their plans and opinions are expressed behind closed doors away from scrutiny. This is boring.
The people new England head coach Chris Silverwood needed to win over were not the fans. They were director of cricket, Ashley Giles; ECB chief executive, Tom Harrison; and John Neal, who is apparently the organisation’s head of coach development.
But here’s the thing: cricket is indeed not politics. It is (a) much less important and (b) far more desperate for public attention. So why not arrive with a bit of a splash?
Contemporary politics is awash with mad, rash promises and, if nothing else, this keeps things interesting. Why shouldn’t cricket adopt a similar approach in a bid to make some headlines? Forget innovative new formats and coverage on free-to-air TV – just talk some shit.
Scrutinise the ECB’s Silverwood announcement and what you will find amounts to an awful lot of abstract nothingness and very little slagging off of underperforming players.
Here’s an example: according to the press release, one of the things that Chris Silverwood is likely do is ‘emerge’ things.
Giles is quoted as saying of Silverwood: “Over the past couple of years, he has been an integral member of developing the team’s culture and emerging a cohesive relationship across the team’s management group.”
That’s the kind of sentence that is so hard to read that you immediately resolve to expunge it from your mind because honestly, what is it likely to be saying anyway?
But let’s for once stop and scrutinise.
According to Giles, Silverwood has been two things in the past couple of years.
Grammatically, I don’t know how you can be a member of developing something, and I also don’t know whether you can actively ‘emerge’ something.
These are just wispy, inconsequential words spouted purely for the sake of saying something.
If I’d have been Giles, I’d have said: “Over the past couple of years, Chris Silverwood has solved cricket.”
Now that’s an outrageous claim. But at the same time tell me you wouldn’t be at least 80 per cent more excited about following England’s progress over the next few months if he’d said that. ‘Silverwood reckons he’s solved cricket? Oh this I have to see.’
For his part, Silverwood did actually try and slip in something intriguing, but he did it far too subtly for anyone to pick up on it.
He said: “I aim to continue the great work that has been done over the past five years and build on our future, especially in the Test arena.”
Obviously, as a human being with a working brain intolerant of mindless abstract waffle, you switched off after “continue the great work that has been done over the past five years.” But just look at what follows that. Just look!
Chris Silverwood is not going to build on England’s past and he’s not going to build on what they’re doing right now. Chris Silverwood is – somehow – going to build on England’s future. He’s going to start doing that immediately. He’s going to build on England’s future in the present.
This is the most mind-blowing time travel question I’ve grappled with since I started watching Donnie Darko half-cut and finished watching it even less sober.
So full marks for ambition, Chris, but about 1/10 for getting your message across in an eye-catching way. As I said at the very start, it’s all about specifics.
I’d have gone with: “I have literally seen the future. The future is Darren Stevens,” or something like that.
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