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Chris Silverwood hopes England batsmen can learn from quickfire third-Test loss

Rory Dollard, PA Cricket Correspondent
·4-min read

England head coach Chris Silverwood is hoping hard times will help him make hard cricketers and wants his side to use the stinging two-day loss to India to stiffen their resolve.

Silverwood saw his side bowled out twice in less than 80 overs at the crease, mustering a grim total of 193 in their two innings on an Ahmedabad pitch that he holds clear misgivings about.

Like captain Joe Root, he would not be drawn into a direct critique of the extreme spinning conditions but did make it clear the case was not considered closed within the England ranks, who could yet opt to pursue the matter through official channels.

“We will be talking about certain things behind the scenes. Joe and I have to have a sit down, have a conversation and see where we go with it,” he said, without elaborating.

“I’m not saying we’ve just got to accept things, I’m just saying at this moment in time I’ve not got anything to add.”

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He was happier to open up about what he hoped his players could take out of their humbling defeat, a game attempt to pluck the positives from England’s fastest Test defeat in 100 years.

An improved method on turning tracks is an obvious target, though it is only a month since back-to-back wins over Sri Lanka in Galle and a rapid evolution is perhaps too much to hope for in the handful of days leading up the fourth Test. In the long term, he is even keener to see a mental shift when the deck is not heavily stacked against them.

Having been lined up to be taken down by Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin in the last two matches, Silverwood wants his top order to hold the memory tight and use it as motivation the next time they walk out on a friendlier pitch.

Whether that is in the return series against India this summer, or in the 2021/22 Ashes tour, he wants his top order to cash in when the going is good.

Zak Crawley (left) and Dom Sibley (right) are two of the batsmen Silverwood hopes can learn from their experience in India.
Zak Crawley (left) and Dom Sibley (right) are two of the batsmen Silverwood hopes can learn from their experience in India (Stu Forster/PA)

“You look at the guys we’ve got in there, your Popes, Crawleys, Sibleys. As tough as it is at the moment, hopefully this will galvanise them,” he said.

“When they do get on flat surfaces, better surfaces, it will make them even more hungry and desperate to make sure they get runs. When we travel to other countries, such as Australia, hopefully if they get themselves in they’ll get greedy and go big. This experience will just harden them towards that.

“Equally, the next time they experience a situation like this, it won’t be as much of a shock to them. As tough as it is and as painful as it is at this moment, hopefully we can take some good lessons.”

In the short-term, England have three extra days in the bubble to prepare for chapter two in Ahmedabad. Spin is likely to be the order of the day again, but the unknown quantity of the pink ball will at least be removed from the equation with the game taking place in regular daylight hours.

England have been putting a collective arm around Dom Bess (left) since he was dropped.
England have been putting a collective arm around Dom Bess (left) since he was dropped. (Stu Forster/PA)

England were seduced into picking a seam-heavy attack last time out, hoping for big swing and carry under the lights, but could now go back to Dom Bess.

The off-spinner was dropped for Moeen Ali in Chennai and remained on the sidelines on a pitch where Root’s part-timer off-breaks scooped up five wickets for eight runs.

With Moeen back in England on a much-discussed rest period, England must now determine two things: if Bess can provide the required consistency and if their handling of him has damaged his confidence.

“He’s in contention. He was left out and Mo played in the second Test, he was given a break,” said Silverwood.

“He was left out of this one because of potential movement we could have got out of the pink ball. All the evidence was that it moved in training, in the middle and the nets.

“From Bessy’s point of view I wouldn’t read too much into that. He’s been great around the group.

“We’ve got a good group here who do get around each other and help each other out, keep each other going. You have to do that in bubble life, which is what we’re living in at the moment. We’re lucky we’ve got that sort of environment.”