Joe Root has strengthened his reputation as a leader by taking a key role in discussions to ensure England’s players made themselves available for the Ashes tour, according to head coach Chris Silverwood.
Despite concerns England players might decline the trip due to Covid-19 restrictions imposed on visitors to Australia, there were no notable absences – other than through injuries – when the 17-man squad was announced on Sunday.
But Silverwood says the England captain, who will be in charge of his second Ashes tour when the series gets under way in December, reaffirmed his leadership qualities during conversations in the build-up to the selection of the party.
“Obviously there were a lot of negotiations went on but one thing we did see was a lot of class from our captain,” said the England head coach.
“Rooty did lead from the front on this, he showed a lot of class and a lot of empathy and real good leadership skills to help get the players to this point – and equally, the way he looked after the staff as well.
“What it has done is galvanised his position as a leader. All the staff have recognised that and it’s made them all pull in behind him.
“I can’t emphasise enough how classy he was within those negotiations and the way he listened to both sides of the argument and came in with a level view on everything.
“I have to also say a massive thank you to Cricket Australia and the Australian government as well for helping us get to the point where the series, as it stands, is going ahead.”
All-rounder Ben Stokes is absent as he continues to take a break of unspecified length to prioritise his mental well-being and recover from a finger injury, while Sam Curran has also been omitted due to a stress fracture of his back.
Pace duo Jofra Archer and Olly Stone had already been ruled out because of long-term injury issues, with Silverwood making it clear Stokes will be allowed to return to Test cricket in his own time.
“Ben is moving forward,” said Silverwood. “The communications I’ve had with him, he’s definitely more upbeat but there’ll be no pressure from me for him to rush back.
“What I’ve said is ‘when you’re ready, you call me and we’ll make a plan from there’. So there’s no pressure from my end and we’ve put no date on it.
“I’m not going to tell him when he needs to be back, I’ll be led by him. My first and foremost concern is his well-being and to make sure that when he does come back, he’s in the right place.”
The coach wants his players to learn from their recent experiences of facing both world Test champions New Zealand and India, who secured a 2-1 triumph when they toured Australia last winter, as they bid to regain the Ashes.
“We have over the last five, six or seven months, played against the top two teams in the world and we’ve learned a hell of a lot from them,” added Silverwood.
“We look at India who have been to Australia recently and been successful, we look at what they do and how they go about their business and they’ve shown us what is possible in Australia.
“The important thing for me is our players have seen what the best in the world look like and we have also tasted success against them.
“Look at the Headingley Test when we came back against India – we have shown we have got the skills to take 20 wickets against them. There’s a strong belief we can go out to Australia and do something very special.”