‘England are on a learning curve’ – Chris Silverwood defends tough day

England

Chris Silverwood conceded England – and their strike bowler, Jofra Archer – were “on a learning curve” in overseas conditions after a tough day in Mount Maunganui.

Silverwood, England’s new head coach, saw his team take just two wickets in an entire day’s cricket and concede what may prove to be a crucial first-innings deficit with power for New Zealand to build on their 41-run lead on the fourth day. Archer, despite much pre-series expectation, finished wicketless.

But while he acknowledged his team had endured “a tough day”, Silverwood insisted they “can take pride” in the efforts they had put in and that such experiences were all part of the learning experience. And he reminded supporters that Archer was playing just his fifth Test and his first overseas and that both he and his captain, Joe Root, were learning how to use his skills in such circumstances.

“The spirit is good and one thing we can take pride in is we worked really hard,” Silverwood said. “The wicket is fairly flat and slowed down during the day We know we have done a shift in the dirt. It’s been hard work and we can be proud of it. I thought we showed a great attitude and put a lot of effort into it today.

“It’s a learning curve for us. How do we take 20 wickets abroad? This is part of the process and we’re building from it. We’ll be talking about using new methods going forward. It’s a constant build.

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“Jofra is still very young in his Test career. Jofra’s learning about himself and the game of Test cricket and equally Joe is learning to captain him as well. From a holistic point of view we’re growing together, really.

“Jofra is learning ways to operate when he’s out there and the one thing we know he has is a ferocious bouncer.”

It may be, Silverwood suggested, that England can learn from New Zealand’s tactics. Certainly their bowlers seemed more adept at tempting the batsmen into errors, though whether that is a reflection on England’s batting as much as New Zealand’s bowling is debatable.

“I was watching how the New Zealand boys bowled on that wicket,” he said. “I was watching the tactics used and what we can learn from them. We can take them and try to implement some of them.

“Look at how Tim Southee bowled. He held his length very well. At times he hung the ball wide of the stumps and made us go to him. We tried that. We almost tempted some shots out of their guys but on a flat wicket you have to go through ideas and you have to give those ideas time to work.”

Silverwood also accepted that England’s catching had to improve. Here Ben Stokes’ dropping of BJ Wating at slip on 31 off the bowling of Root proved particularly damaging.

“We’ve got to face into this,” he said. “You’ve probably seen on the morning before play that we are doing a lot of catching. We know that we’ve got to try to get better and we’re trying very hard to do that. I think the more we practice, the better we’ll get.”

Despite England’s struggles, Silverwood had no criticism of the pitch.

“I think it is a good wicket for Test cricket,” he said. “It’s been a good, hard-fought day. And we don’t know what the next two days are going to be like. It could end up a very good Test wicket but we’ll see in the next two days, won’t we?”

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