Chris Silverwood has insisted the off-field rancour triggered by Ollie Robinson’s historical tweets is not to blame for the sorry batting performance that left England on the brink of losing their first home series since 2014.
The England and Wales Cricket Board announced it will start a review of social media use after past posts from Robinson and others emerged in the last week that, in the eyes of the governing body, “severely diminished” the sport’s inclusive aspirations.
Punishments have not been ruled out but despite this storm having engulfed Joe Root’s side during the buildup to the second Test against New Zealand, head coach Silverwood knocked down any suggestion it bled into their game.
Speaking after day three, with England having slumped to 122 for nine and leading by just 37 runs, Silverwood said: “We’ve tried very hard to make sure that the noise on the outside has been quietened down to try and concentrate on cricket.
“Obviously it’s not easy but that’s what we’ve had to try and do because we had a Test match to try and compete in.”
Silverwood admitted he felt for England’s bowlers after their wholehearted efforts in keeping New Zealand’s first innings lead to just 85 runs were thrown away by the batsmen either side of tea. Lose tomorrow and it will be a first home series defeat since Sri Lanka’s 1-0 victory seven years ago.
“Obviously it’s not good enough,” said Silverwood. “We need to improve, no doubt about that. We’ll be reflecting on that, if we want to one day sit where New Zealand are at the moment. We always knew it would be a tough ask with the young batting lineup we have but there were plenty of lessons out there to learn from.”
Rest, rotation and the unshifting Indian Premier League have resulted in England being unable to pick their strongest XI all year. Silverwood hopes players such as Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler returning for the India series in August will help, even if he couldn’t help putting this in the context of the Ashes later in the year.
He said: “Getting Buttler and Stokes back will help them. We’ve seen in the past, you put the inexperienced players in between the experienced ones and it helps them learn. I think certainly we talk about what we’re going to look like heading into Australia. I’d like to start galvanising that team, certainly through the India series.”
Asked about the prospects of a recall for Dawid Malan, who boasts a Test century in Perth and made 199 for Yorkshire during one of his fleeting appearances for the county last week, Silverwood said: “I’ll be keeping my mind wide open, that is for definite. So, if people are getting runs, I’ll be taking notice.”