Silverwood honoured to be involved with Lions squad


Chris Silverwood has described his involvement with the current England Lions’ tour of Sri Lanka as an ‘honour’ and one that will only improve his experiences as a coach.

Silverwood was one of five members of the Lions party who missed Tuesday’s inaugural England Players’ Dinner at Lord’s – with fellow coach Bruce French, selector Angus Fraser and the two most recent caps, Haseeb Hameed and Keaton Jennings.

But he had no complaints, because he is enjoying working with the Lions.

“It’s an honour isn’t it, to come out and represent your country as a coach,” he added. “And I’m learning a lot working next to Andy, Bruce French and Chris Taylor as well. It’s a great environment to work in.

“I’ve done Under-19s, worked with the Pace Programme out in Potchefstroom, and I had a short time with the Lions in South Africa two winters ago before Ottis Gibson arrived as bowling coach. But this is the first official role like this as assistant coach.

“I’ve got my duties as a head coach with Essex as well, but I’m lucky that the club are very supportive of me – they see it as working up a level and the chance to learn from international coaches, and bring that knowledge back to the club. I’ve also got the benefit of a very good group working back at Essex, with Anthony McGrath my assistant taking the reins alongside Barry Hyam. It’s good for their development as well, to put their stamp on things while I’m away.”

And one last bonus for Essex is that Silverwood has been able to see first-hand that the club’s vice captain Tom Westley is in prime form ahead of their long-awaited return to Division One of the Specsavers County Championship – with scores of 95 in the warm-up game, and 97 in the first innings in Kandy.

“He’s obviously disappointed to have missed out on 100 twice – but as I said to him afterwards, you’d rather that than nought. He looks in control, his game has matured, he knows what his options are, he sticks to them and he makes it work – and he’s a very difficult batsman to stop scoring when he gets in, he’s hard to bowl at.”

Silverwood also praised the performance of the four seamers who played a key part in England Lions’ victory over Sri Lanka A in their first four-day match in Kandy – with bat and ball.

Tom Curran and Toby Roland-Jones took early wickets in both innings, Tom Helm and Sam Curran ensured there was no let-up for the home batsmen even as the pink balls got older – and all four made significant lower order runs which ensured the Lions made the running throughout.

“We saw in the practice game we played in Colombo that using the new ball was absolutely key,” said Silverwood, the Essex Head Coach who is with the Lions as assistant coach to Andy Flower in addition to his fast-bowling specialism.

“And I thought we did that well in both innings in Kandy. We got early wickets, and put ourselves in a good position. You’ve got to pitch the ball up and allow it to swing, and it did a little bit.

“One thing we have got that they’re probably not used to facing out here is pace. We’ve got some people who get it through, and they’re skilful bowlers as well, and that’s what we’ve seen come to the front.

“Toby and TC got those early wickets, Helm looked in really good rhythm and got a wicket in his first over in each innings surprising them with that bit of extra bounce, and Sam Curran bowled a lovely spell in the second innings.”