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Cricket news - 'Cricket has won' - Silverwood after successful English summer
Despite the ODI series loss that capped off the summer, the England coach found a silver lining.
England head coach Chris Silverwood has heaped praise on the ECB and all the personnel involved in the successful staging of the English summer in difficult times. England are the only country to have successfully hosted international cricket ever since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world to come to a standstill.
Having already hosted West Indies for three Tests, England hosted Pakistan for three Tests and T20Is before concluding the home summer with six more limited-overs internationals, against Australia. Silverwood is now hopeful of other countries taking cue from England to set up similar bio-bubbles that are secure with the national team gearing up for a busy winter.
"I think first and foremost if we look back at April when we were thinking 'how are we going to get this on?' to actually play a full international calendar and to be taking part in some fantastic games and exciting games we've seen I think is nothing short of exceptional," Silverwood said after the conclusion of the final ODI against Australia. "I think a lot of credit needs to go to all those people involved in that whether that be players, staff, ECB, the hotels, grounds - everybody involved who has made this happen because it's been absolutely fantastic.
"It's been successful here and if we can do it so can other countries. Getting cricket on everywhere around the world is what we all want. We're hopeful after Christmas the Test tours [Sri Lanka and India] will go ahead. South Africa we're looking at before Christmas for a white-ball tour. Then we're looking at a red-ball camp in the UAE as well to prep the guys going towards Sri Lanka. We're hopeful that all this will be on. We're learning every day how we deal with COVID and hopefully if we continue to do that we'll play."
Even though Silverwood isn't fussed about the players now heading to the IPL switching from one bubble to another, he has warned the players against burn out with a tight schedule fast approaching. "Obviously, the contracts are good for them but equally as well we're looking forward at a T20 WC," he noted. "The more high-class T20 they can play will be a good thing for us. The one thing I have encouraged is that they keep talking to us and we need to make sure they don't burn out so we'll have to keep an eye on them."
Even though England finished the home summer on a disappointing note conceding the ODI series to Australia, Silverwood looked at the bigger picture and was pleased that the players were able to get back on to the field. "I think it was a hard-fought series to be honest," he conceded. "We've seen some exceptional individual performances in there and we saw an exceptional partnership between two players today and they won the game for them. Sometimes you've got to say well done to the opposition but I think it's been hard-fought, two good teams going at each other and it's provided some really entertaining cricket. It's always disappointing to lose.
"But if you put it in perspective, you go back to April when we were all wondering if we'd get cricket on, I think cricket as a whole has won. We won't be getting too down about it. There are things we can work on - fielding is one thing we've started pushing coming into this series and we need to continue to work on that because we can always improve."
The 45-year-old also pointed out that the players were still passionate enough to put in the hard yards and come out on top despite having already reached the pinnacle last year following the World Cup triumph. "I think the passion is there, the desire is still there so I think it will come from within," he said. "The wicket for the first two games was a difficult wicket, it's not the type of wicket we're used to playing on with the expansive game that we do. So that was a different challenge for us.
"It certainly weren't through any lack of effort of passion to get out there and score runs and coming into this game the guys were determined as ever to perform. I don't think we have performed at our best. In think there's a few more gears in there for us and we've got to continually strive to improve and keep pushing boundaries because the last thing I want is for the guys to go into their shell. In want them to come out of it more. If we get pushed we want to push back harder, we want to break records. It's what these guys do, they don't know what limits are so we'll just keep trying to create an environment where they feel they'll break records."
Assessing the entire summer, Silverwood was pleased with the fact that his assistant coaches got an opportunity to step up and take charge in his absence with England fielding two completely different squads for different formats due to COVID guidelines. "One of the things I've enjoyed is the fact my top assistant coaches have got to lead the team as well," he reflected. "Had opportunities to be head coach, I've had opportunity to step back and watch from a distance. That's a positive. Moving forward we will have to learn to split the squad up again as things aren't going to change in a rush. It may be we have to take that step again.
"Test point of view, we continue to work on the blueprint we've tried to build since New Zealand - big first innings runs and putting pressure on the opposition. We look at Zak Crawley at No.3 scoring big runs down at the Ageas, that was a fantastic effort, a super innings. The youngsters are coming through and building on the blueprint and are capable of doing it. From a Test point of view I was happy and feel we are moving forward. T20 we played some good cricket there. Defeated in this format but the passion is there and we saw some very entertaining cricket."
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