Michael Atherton says England coach Chris Silverwood will not survive Ashes loss

Test cricket
Chris Silverwood

Former England captains Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain cast doubt on Chris Silverwood continuing as head coach beyond the end of a torturous Ashes campaign.

A restructure by men’s managing director Ashley Giles in April saw Silverwood absorb a role as chief selector but England have struggled this year, winning just one of their last 12 Tests with a record nine defeats in 2021.

The nadir has come Down Under, where another abject batting performance in Melbourne, skittled for 68, was labelled “embarrassing” by former England players, as Australia moved into an unassailable 3-0 lead inside 12 days.

Joe Root's England have been outclassed in Australia (Jason O'Brien/PA)
Joe Root’s England have been outclassed in Australia (Jason O’Brien/PA)

Atherton told Sky Sports: “I can’t see a situation where Silverwood will survive this tour. All the responsibility lies with him as that’s the way Giles has set things up.

“Previously you had the national selector and that responsibility was slightly diffused. You didn’t quite know who to blame as you had the captain, the coach and the national selector.

“But the way Giles has set things up, there is only one man to blame, even though there are deeper issues than the blame game.”

Critics from all corners

England adopted a contentious rest-and-rotation policy earlier this year to safeguard their players from burnout amid an unrelenting schedule but the knock-on effect has resulted in a lack of consistency and muddled thinking.

Hussain said: “When England went down the rotation policy at the start of the year, Athers said ‘let’s judge Silverwood by results at the end of year’. Well, England have lost nine Test matches, their worst-ever year.

“Those results speak for themselves so I think he is incredibly vulnerable.”

England captain Joe Root also finds himself in the firing line after Australia secured an innings victory at the MCG, despite being restricted to 267 in their only dig, to make sure the urn remained in their possession.

Root has amassed 1,708 runs in 2021 while none of his team-mates have reached 600 this year, so former England batter Mark Ramprakash has some sympathy for the Yorkshireman, despite acknowledging his tactical shortcomings.

Ramprakash would back Root staying in charge but only if the 30-year-old wants to and is given help from those higher up the chain to help shoulder the burden.

Ramprakash, England’s ex-batting coach, said on Sky: “Joe’s a great role model but the players around him have not been up to the mark and that’s why when you look at his position as captain, you have to feel sympathy for him.

Steve Harmison (centre) in action for England
Steve Harmison (centre) was part of the side that won the 2005 Ashes (Rui Vieira/PA)

“I don’t think he’s necessarily tactically the best captain we’ve ever had and so he will have to take his share of responsibility in terms of strategy, selection and things like that.

“But equally I think Joe needs support from people above him. People have mentioned a reset for red-ball cricket? Absolutely, we need to have a good hard look at how we help Joe Root if he continues as captain.

“He’s got to weigh up the energy levels, he’s been in the job four to five years now and the job is very demanding. But if he has the drive and desire to carry on then I would stick with him.”

The writing was on the wall for England when they slumped to 22 for four in the face of some relentless pressure from the opposition fast bowlers and debuting seamer Scott Boland then applied the finishing touches on Tuesday.

Former England fast bowler Steve Harmison, part of the side that unforgettably won the 2005 Ashes, told BT Sport their latest defeat could be a moment of reckoning for some in the current set-up.

Harmison said: “There is going to be a big inquest. There’s going to be a lot of things blamed, people’s careers on the line. (Australia) bowled brilliantly but that’s embarrassing, I’m sorry. No fight, there was nothing there.”

Newcomer makes the difference

Boland finished with astonishing figures of six for seven from just 24 deliveries as England were put out of their misery on Tuesday, earning praise from Ashes 2005-winning captain Michael Vaughan.

He wrote on Twitter: “England nowhere near good enough. They will know that, but seeing a 32-year-old on debut on his home turf with the crowd going berserk is what makes sport so special. Well done Australia. Far too good for England.”

Sir Ian Botham, another former England captain and one of the finest all-rounders the country has produced, told Australia’s Channel 7: “I’m a little embarrassed, to be honest. I just think that England have lost their way.”

Former England batter Rob Key added on Sky Sports News: “It sums up where England have been in this series. It has to be one of the worst Ashes defeats I can remember. The only positive is it’s going to shake up English cricket for the better. It has to.”