Silverwood’s mantra for Sri Lanka Cricket: “discipline and confidence”

Sri Lanka tour of Bangladesh 2022

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In what was Chris Silverwood’s first press conference as the Head Coach of the Sri Lanka National Men’s Cricket Team, he pointed out that instilling confidence and discipline in the players would be a major focus during his tenure.

Having been in the island for a little over two weeks, Silverwood’s has set his sights on helping Sri Lanka rise in the ICC rankings and compete with the best teams in the world, especially with two limited overs World Cups coming up in the next 18 months.

Taking on as Head Coach of a sub-continental cricketing nation with below-par results over the last half a decade or so, is a challenge with massive risks involved but Silverwood seems to have done his homework. Especially when it comes to neutralizing one of the side’s biggest weaknesses, poor rotation of strike rate and high dot-ball percentage.

“I have spent the last couple of weeks, just digging through stats, looking at how we can improve. One of them is the intent to score, we have to give the batters the confidence to go out there and not fear getting out. With that intent of scoring, comes rotation of strike, and boundaries as well. I’m not saying we have to be reckless, what I’m saying is we have to bring ‘smart’ into that as well.” Silverwood said to the press.

“I want them to be positive and brave. If we go with that attitude, the dot-ball rates will come down and the strike-rates will go up which can only be a good thing. I have encouraged the guys to be very specific when they train, think about who we’re going to come up against, and practice to suit those situations rather than training on a broad scale. Every time you come out of that net, you come out a better player than you went in. To do that, you have to consider what challenges you have in front of you, experiment and find a way, make your strengths stronger.” He further elaborated.

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After being sacked as the England Head Coach following a disappointing Ashes campaign earlier this year, Silverwood took some time off and then decided to go job hunting. Before taking on the role with Sri Lanka, he admitted that had a few conversations with some of Sri Lanka’s former head coaches, his predecessor, Mickey Arthur, Trevor Bayliss and Paul Fabrace to understand what he would be taking on.

“Before taking on the job, one of the points I looked at was, could I make a difference here? I believe I can. Having seen the talent from an opposition point of view in this team, excited me. Not only across the Test format, across the white-ball formats as well.”

“If we push the national team on, we can climb up the rankings, and get back to that dominant force that Sri Lanka once was. But equally, I want to put a Sri Lankan flair and I want the boys to express themselves and don’t want them to be anybody else, I want them to be themselves and fly the flag for Sri Lanka.” He told the full room of journalists, who had gathered for a physical press conference for the first time since the start of Covid-19 pandemic.

Sri Lanka’s never-ending transition phase, especially with batting, will be one of the biggest challenges for Silverwood and his new Assistant cum Batting coach Naveed Nawaz. Ahead of a two-Test series in Bangladesh, Silverwood reckoned having runs on the board is essential for the success of any team.

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“We want to be more disciplined with batting, more patient with batting and some intent to score as well. It’s all about scoring runs and that’s what we want the batting line up to do. I’ll try and instill some confidence into the boys so they can go out there and construct their innings and score big runs, certainly in the first innings and give us something to bowl at. It’s not rocket science; it’s just trying to give that confidence to the boys to put runs on the board.” Silverwood said.

With the help of Nawaz, Silverwood intends to be precise and clear cut with solid communication inside the team environment. Building a solid team culture would be on the top of his to-do list for the new team management of the team.

“One of the challenges for me would be communication. I have to make sure that the plans that I’m trying to put in place, can get across to the players properly. Obviously, Naveed [Nawaz], has helped me with it brilliantly so far. Equally, I’ve got to be aware that the way I see things, is not the way someone else sees it so I have to be aware of how culture works as well, and I have good experience with that when I was with Zimbabwe. All in all, what we’ve got here is very exciting. I think I can make a difference.”

Over the past couple of years, fitness has been a major topic related to Sri Lanka Cricket. Former Head Coach, Mickey Arthur was insistent on a stringent fitness regime along with the national selectors. It is too early to see how Silverwood would tackle the fitness issue. However, Silverwood believes whatever said and done on fitness, the attitude should always be ‘Team First’.

“I have heard a lot about fitness while I have been here. Obviously, it’s been a real topic of conversation. I’d like to reframe it a little bit and let’s look it at it from a different point of view. Why do we do fitness? Fitness is there to help you perform over a long period of time. It’s there to help a team perform over a long period of time in a congested cricket calendar. For me, it’s about giving the players the best chance of longevity and giving Sri Lanka the best

chance of success for a long period of time over all three formats. We have got a lot of Cricket in Sri Lanka and the sun is beating down here so it’s hard work. It highlights why we try and do the fitness. It’s not for me, it’s for the players, helps themselves and ultimately for the team because team always comes first.” He further reiterated.

Silverwood’s first assignment with the side will be the two-Test series away from home against Bangladesh later this month, before returning to Sri Lanka to host Australia in June/July.

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