Gary Kirsten moves closer to England top job after Chris Silverwood SACKED

England coach Chris Silverwood paid the price for the team’s woeful Ashes series loss in Australia by leaving his post on Thursday, paving the way for Gary Kirsten to take over.

The England and Wales Cricket Board announced the news in a statement.

Silverwood’s departure came a day after Ashley Giles, who appointed him in 2019, was sacked from his role of England managing director men’s cricket.

England’s 4-0 reverse in Australia means they have now won just one of their last 14 Tests, albeit Silverwood’s tenure coincided with the coronavirus pandemic.

Former England captain Andrew Strauss has replaced Giles on a temporary basis and will oversee the appointment of an interim coach for the tour of the West Indies in March “in the coming days”, according to ECB chief executive Tom Harrison.

Harrison said Silverwood had given “absolutely everything” to make a success of the job, pointing to Test series wins in South Africa and Sri Lanka, and that he was a man of “great integrity”.

“He has led the England men’s team with great resilience and empathy through an incredibly challenging period for English cricket, and he deserves our sincere thanks and gratitude,” insisted Harrison.

Former England left-arm spinner Giles received fresh criticism during the Ashes for giving Silverwood sole authority to pick the side after being behind the sacking of national selector Ed Smith.

Silverwood, having been involved in a controversial rest and rotation policy during series losses away to India and at home to New Zealand in 2021, found himself under fire again following several bizarre selection decisions in Australia.

For all the strain of a gruelling schedule and ‘bubble’ cricket, it was hard to explain, for example, why England dropped James Anderson and Stuart Broad, their two most successful Test bowlers of all time, from the series opener in Brisbane.

England were 3-0 down in a five-match series within 12 days of cricket, making a mockery of Silverwood’s remark that the “Ashes are a marathon not a sprint”.

They only avoided a whitewash with a draw in the fourth Test when Silverwood was in Covid-enforced isolation.

The 46-year-old former Test paceman joined England’s backroom staff in 2018 as a bowling coach before succeeding Trevor Bayliss as head coach after a drawn home Ashes series the following year.

Silverwood was tasked with improving England’s Test record after their white-ball form had improved so spectacularly under Australian coach Bayliss that Eoin Morgan’s men won the 50-over World Cup three years ago.

‘It’s been an honour to be England coach’ – Chris Silverwood

But not even the runs of England star batsman Joe Root, who appears set to remain as Test captain, could prevent a succession of damaging collapses.

“It’s been an absolute honour to be England head coach and I’m extremely proud to have worked alongside our players and staff,” said Chris Silverwood in the ECB statement.

“The last two years have been very demanding but I have really enjoyed my time with the team. I am very proud of this group considering the challenges.”

Among those touted as possible successors to Silverwood are Gary Kirsten, a former South Africa opener who has coached both the Proteas and India, and Alec Stewart, an ex-England captain who has overseen the development of several members of the current Test side at Surrey.

Australia great Ricky Ponting has also been linked with the job.

And while both the managing director and head coach have now left, Harrison – under fire for both presiding over the current set-up and the ECB’s response to a racism scandal sparked by revelations from former Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq – remains in his position.

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