In a stunning turn of events at the Asia Cup, the euphoria of the Indo-Pak cricket clash has been eclipsed by Sri Lanka’s relentless bowling attack. They scuttled the Indian batsmen’s dreams of dominance, restricting India to a mere 213 runs. This is not an isolated incident but rather a recurring theme for Sri Lanka. Remarkably, in their last 14 matches, Sri Lanka has consistently bowled out their opposition. What makes this even more remarkable is that, in the recent match, it was the first time India lost all their wickets to spinners, and the credit for this incredible feat goes to one man – Chris Silverwood.
Flashback, In July this year the scene was set at the Harare Sports Club, where Silverwood, the former fast bowler from Essex, shared his insights after the final of the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier against the Netherlands. In an exclusive chat with the Daily Guardian in Harare he said, “Well, my job is to keep it simple. The team has to score big, convert half chances into wickets, and bowl out the opposition, with an emphasis on bowling out the opposition.” Chris Silverwood, who played six Tests and seven ODIs for England, has emerged as a driving force for the current Sri Lanka squad. In a field filled with self-proclaimed cricket coaching geniuses, Silverwood, standing tall at 6.3, looks like a man among boys. His coaching prowess was previously on display when he guided Essex to promotion to Division One of the County Championship and then to the title. Silverwood’s journey to Sri Lanka was not conventional. He was sacked by England in February following their 4-0 Ashes series loss in Australia in 2021. Subsequently, he stepped down from his role with the English side. However, in April 2022, Sri Lanka Cricket appointed Chris Silverwood as the head coach of their national men’s team for two years, following Mickey Arthur’s departure. Sri Lanka, the 1996 World Cup winner, has already won eight matches at the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier tournament, solidifying its record of participation in every Cricket World Cup Qualifier. The double blow of a coach seeking redemption while nursing a prestige injury, coupled with a Sri Lankan cricket team grappling with financial constraints and dwindling self-esteem, was exacerbated by their necessity to compete in the World Cup qualifiers to secure a spot in the tournament. Chris Silverwood, a former English cricketer, successfully transitioned to coaching after his playing days, marked by his contributions to England’s 2005 Ashes triumph and his career with Yorkshire. His coaching journey includes leading Essex County Cricket Club to victory in 2017 and subsequently taking the helm as England’s head coach in October 2019. His remarkable transformation from county bowler to coaching standout was highlighted by Essex’s first Division One County title in 25 years in 2017. Post-2019 World Cup, he assumed the role of England’s head coach and in April 2022, he became Sri Lanka’s head coach. Under his guidance, Sri Lanka remained unbeaten in the three-Test series and clinched a surprising T20 Asia Cup victory in September 2022.
Chris Silverwood, resembling a culinary maestro, has transformed Sri Lanka from modest beginnings into a formidable force in the ongoing Asia Cup, leaving everyone pleasantly surprised for the Upcoming World Cup.
Sunil Yash Kalra is a Women’s Cricket Historian and the founder of Indian Sports Fans.