England coach and selector Chris Silverwood has defended the selection of the first two Test teams and said he would have done the same thing if given the chance again.
Silverwood was in a defiant mood as he was grilled after the tourists fell 2-0 down in the series after barely firing a shot on the hosts.
England’s decision to leave veteran seamers James Anderson and Stuart Broad out of the first Test was then compounded when they went into the second Test without their only bowler with genuine pace – Mark Wood – and also left spinner Jack Leach out of the XI.
“There is always going to be divided opinion,” Silverwood told English media on Wednesday.
“You pick a team and not everybody’s going to agree with you.”
Asked if the would pick the same teams again, he replied: “To be honest, I would,” adding “I was happy with the skillset we had in the pink-ball Test, so I would pick the same team again.”
Plenty of pundits and former players have suggested both captain Joe Root and Silverwood are in danger of losing their jobs after this tour, unless England can muster a comeback in the final three Tests.
While Michael Vaughan suggests there is just one candidate – Ben Stokes – to replace Root as Test skipper, coaches can be more readily found.
Silverwood was asked if his job was on the line.
“It always is,” he replied. “When you take a job like this, you accept that.
“Do I believe I’m the right man? Yes I do, or I wouldn’t have taken the job in the first place. You’re under pressure constantly, aren’t you?”
Root criticised his bowlers for hitting too short a length during his post-match press conference – a move that surprised plenty.
“I nearly fell off my seat when I heard that,” former Australia captain Ricky Ponting said of Root’s post-match comments.
“Whose job is it then to make them change? Why are you captain then?
“If you can’t influence your bowlers on what length to bowl, what are you doing on the field?
“Joe Root can come back and say whatever he likes but if you’re captain, you’ve got to be able to sense when your bowlers aren’t bowling where you want them to.
“And if they’re not going to listen, you take them off, simple as that.
“Give someone else a chance that is going to do it for you. Or you have a really strong conversation with them on the field to tell them what you need.
“That’s what captaincy is all about.”
Silverwood said the team had a frank discussion in the change rooms.
“What you saw was what we got in the dressing room after. We had a really good talk, which was needed,” Silverwood said.
“The chat we had in the dressing room was very honest. If we want to win this Test series and compete in this Test series, we have to be better.
“There were a few things thrown out there. There were some honest chats, which was great. It was good and it was healthy. We had a really good talk, which was needed.
“I think there are some lessons to be learned. We have to learn quickly.”
Silverwood also spoke on England’s recurring no-ball problem which has already cost Stokes and Ollie Robinson wickets in the series.
“Wickets off no-balls are unacceptable,” he said. “I brought it up and we faced into that.
“This cannot happen. It’s a basic error. The lads accepted that.”
But for all Silverwood’s self defence the selection issue looks likely to haunt him.
“Selectorally they’ve got it wrong this year,” said former captain Michael Vaughan on the Follow On podcast.
“They played a pink ball game in Ahmedabad where India played 4-5 spinners and England played all the seamers and one spinner. It was a dustbowl and Joe Root got 5-8.
“So tactically and structurally in terms of the team they’ve got it wrong for quite a while now they’ve been making some glaring mistakes.”
Former England bowler Jonathan Agnew wrote on the BBC website that Root’s post-match comments were telling.
“It is extremely unusual for Root to go public with criticism of his bowlers, rightly saying they bowled too short.
“To accuse England of bowling too short is nothing new – they did the same thing on the same ground with the same result four years ago – but criticism usually comes from us in the media, rather than the captain.
“Why did Root do it? He must have thought he had to force his message through, perhaps because the bowlers are disagreeing with him. Remember, two members of that attack are James Anderson and Stuart Broad, England’s leading wicket-takers of all-time.
“We are not talking about a big adjustment. Just a couple of feet fuller in length. Root can do certain things, like setting particular fields to encourage it, but it is ultimately up to the bowlers to deliver.”
But Agnew warned it was important that Root’s criticism did not lead to internal divisions.
“It is key that this sort of talk does not lead to a split in the dressing room, especially when past tours of Australia have unravelled quickly,” he wrote.
“For bowlers, it can be frustrating seeing your own batsmen getting out cheaply when the opposition makes you spend hours running through the dirt.
“Similarly, batsmen can get angry when they see their own bowlers unable to land the ball in the areas the opposition cause trouble from.
I doubt Root would have made his feelings so clear if he thought there was a risk of division in the England team, but he was explicit in saying they must learn quickly if they are to avoid having a very difficult time over the next month.
“It is worth remembering that Root has said his captaincy will be defined by this tour, so he will be feeling very uncomfortable if he can see a 5-0 coming towards him.”
Meanwhile already missing England fast bowler Jofra Archer has had another setback and will miss England’s tour of the West Indies after undergoing a second elbow operation, it was announced Tuesday.
Archer, 26, had surgery on Saturday and he has now been ruled out by the England and Wales Cricket Board of the three-Test tour of his native West Indies in March — a series officials had hoped would mark his comeback to international cricket.