England head coach Chris Silverwood defends rotation policy

England head coach Chris Silverwood has urged fans to understand the rotation policy employed to combat a hectic 2021 schedule, following his side’s impressive 2-0 success in Sri Lanka.

Captain Joe Root led from the front as the tourists closed out a second consecutive series sweep in Sri Lanka, which saw them claim a fifth consecutive Test win away from home for the first time since 1914.

“I think we learned that we have got a lot of character,” Silverwood told the ECB.

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“I think we showed a lot of fight, and a lot of resilience. To win the way we did having lost both tosses – we had to do it the hard way so to speak – I think we saw a lot of character out there.”

England will depart Sri Lanka on Wednesday morning as they make the trip to Chennai ahead of next month’s first Test against India, although the visitors will be forced to quarantine for six days in their team hotel.

Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Rory Burns will return to the fold, but Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood and Sam Curran will miss out on the opening two Tests, while they’re set to be without Jos Buttler for the final three games of the series.

It’s set to be an action-packed 2021 for England across all formats, as 17 Test matches are coupled with a T20 World Cup, and Silverwood insists he fully supports the ‘proactive’ selection approach.

“I stand by it. We’ve got to look after our people. We’re spending a lot of time locked in hotel rooms inside bio-secure bubbles and it’s not easy.

“We’ve decided that we need to look after the players and I do believe in being proactive by looking after players, rather than waiting until there’s a problem.

“I’d just ask supporters to understand why we do what we do. We are resting them for the best interests of that player and equally to get the best out of them long-term.”

Silverwood has enjoyed an impressive start to life as England head coach, and their latest subcontinent success marked a fourth consecutive series win in the red-ball format.

It also coincided with a welcome return to form for Joe Root, who amassed 426 runs in just four innings, following up a double hundred in the opening Test with a brilliant 186 in Galle just a few days ago.

Silverwood was full of praise for the England captain, and hailed his influence both with the bat and as a leader.

“The way he batted – it was an absolute masterclass, not only for our England batsman sat watching in the dressing room, but I think anyone at home aspiring to be a batsman,” he continued.

“The way that he went about building his innings, I thought it was absolutely superb. He has worked hard and he deserves the success.

“It’s a joint idea the way we’re going to play Test cricket. He’s really championed that and he’s leading from the front. He does that on and off the field – he leads the guys very well, he’s been top class.”

Silverwood also lavished praise on England’s veteran fast bowlers Stuart Broad and James Anderson, who dovetailed magnificently across the Sri Lanka series in testing conditions.

Both men claimed career-best figures in Sri Lanka in the first and second Test respectively, and with Archer and Stokes returning in India, England boast an embarrassment of riches in the pace department.

“I think the way the two of them bowled was absolutely fantastic. Again they showed their class and how good they are, but equally both of them led the bowling attack superbly.

“You ask somebody to take control of a game for you and those two do it, especially when it comes to controlling the rate.

“Within the young seamers group we’ve got here, those two have been inspirational in talking to them about cricket, talking to them about how we apply the game-plan. It’s a real privilege to have both of them around.”

Anderson and Broad were part of the last England side to win a series in India back in 2012, although their most recent visit resulted in a 4-0 drubbing in 2016.

However, Root’s men face an ominous task against a star-studded Indian side, who are in buoyant mood following their sensational 2-1 triumph in Australia.

Virat Kohli’s side recovered from losing the opening Test in humbling circumstances, and despite a host of high-profile absentees – including Kohli himself – Ajinkya Rahane led India to a famous series win down under.

India have not lost a home series since Sir Alastair Cook guided England to victory more than eight years ago, although Silverwood insists his team are capable of creating another slice of history.

“It’s a great challenge for us. Do I think we can beat them? Yes. I think we can beat them,” he added.

“We know it’s going to be a hard-fought contest, and if we come out on top in this one the confidence again will go through the roof.

“I respect the fact that they are a fine side, they’ve got some really good players and we’re going to have to be at the top of our game.”

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