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Ashes Scout: Silverwood faces axe, net session farce, Stuart’s Broadside and Pietersen’s radical county revamp

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2nd January, 2022
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England coach Chris Silverwood looks set to pay the price for the Ashes disaster with reports emerging that he will be sacked at the end of the series.

The touring squad’s trip from hell descended further into farce on Sunday with the support staff having to bowl at the team’s batting during their SCG session after a net bowler tested positive to COVID-19.

That meant all the local net bowlers that had been assigned to help England could not be used as they were deemed close contacts.

Silverwood will not be in Sydney for the fourth Test after he and his family were forced to stay in Melbourne due to COVID-19 safety protocols as the virus further disrupted the besieged squad’s faltering campaign.

He has been in charge since 2019 and after being granted sole responsibility for team selections, the former English seamer has been heavily criticised for recent results, culminating in the 3-0 Ashes humiliation which is likely to become a 5-0 whitewash.

Former South African opener Gary Kirsten, who has coached India and narrowly missed out on the gig when Silverwood was appointed, is seen as a likely candidate to take over.

Assistant coaches Jon Lewis and Jeetan Patel are also isolating due to COVID-19 regulations.

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Adam Hollioake was supposed to be drafted into the English camp in Sydney to boost the coaching staff but he has been ruled out after being a close contact.

It all adds up to another potential disaster in Sydney but opener Zak Crawley believe they can respond to the enormous challenge, particularly the much-maligned batting unit.

“We’ve all got talent to score big runs in Test cricket, we’ve just got to get in the right headspace to perform like that,” he said on Sunday.

“I thought maybe that’s where we’ve gone slightly wrong.

“I don’t think it will be a tougher Test. I think the wicket is going to be better here and it will be a bit easier. There seems to be a lot more runs scored here, I feel.”

Crawley said there were several members of the touring party who have been a bit too wary of the Australian team and they need to “not fear them”.

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“I feel like there’s a lot to play for, for a lot of us,” he said.

“A lot of players are playing for their place in the side, there’s pride on the line whenever you’re playing for your country and I feel like there’s an awful lot to play for in the next two games so that’s why we are positive in trying to win them both.”

Stuart delivers Broadside as he ponders retirement call

Stuart Broad has vented his frustration at missing out on the two Tests where he thought he could make a difference in the Ashes but says he won’t make an emotional decision right now about whether he will retire.

The veteran paceman was omitted for the first Test in Brisbane and last week’s debacle in Melbourne and, writing in his Sunday Mail column, he said he would have loved to have had a chance on those seamer’s paradise wickets.

While he is disappointed about his treatment, he is not going to make a snap decision about whether he continues to make himself available for England’s Test team until the last two games in Sydney and Hobart.

Stuart Broad in the 2021/22 Ashes

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

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Broad is a chance to come back into the side for Wednesday’s fourth clash at the SCG with Ollie Robinson under pressure to retain his spot.

“As a wobble-seam bowler, I feel as though I missed out on two of the best wobble-seam pitches in Australia. Only playing once has made this a very disappointing trip, one that has not met my personal expectations,” he wrote in his column for The Sunday Mail.

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“There is a long time between now and the tour of the Caribbean in March and I have never been one to make emotional decisions.

“So I’m not going to make any spur of the moment calls on my future. I feel fit, I’ve come back from the calf injury feeling strong and I’m taking wickets in the nets. That’s all I can do given the lack of tour games and the tight schedule.”

Broad defended England’s capitulation in the first three Tests, claiming the lack of first-class cricket in the lead-up to the tour meant they were on a hiding to nothing.

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“Should we have done better? Absolutely. So we are frustrated with ourselves. It’s not like we’ve played amazing cricket for 18 months, then come into the Ashes and failed. We’ve been making the same mistakes for a long time. Both at home and abroad.

“Over three matches, they have been better in every department. They’ve scored more runs, taken their catches, and bowled us out cheaply.

“On the back of the current score line, questions have been raised about the squad chosen for the Ashes. But I can categorically say that these are the best players in the country. There is high quality within this group. I see it daily.”

KP proposes radical revamp

Never short of an opinion, former English star Kevin Pietersen believes the only way to solve the Test team’s woes is to create a first-class franchise league similar to the ECB’s successful white-ball venture, The Hundred.

Writing in his betway insider blog, KP’s proposal would relegate the traditional county system to a second-division feeder league.

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“They now need to introduce a similar franchise competition for red-ball cricket, whereby the best play against the best every single week.

“They would make money available to attract some of the best overseas players in the world and the top English players would benefit from playing alongside them.

“It would be a marketable, exciting competition, which would drive improvement in the standard and get people back through the gates for long-form cricket.

“I see it as an eight-team round-robin league in the middle of the summer.”

It could be a handy warm on the side for red-ball specialists like Will Pucovski, Trent Copeland and Nathan Lyon who don’t attract offers from the IPL like limited-overs stars such as Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis.

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