Chris Silverwood admits England’s coaching staff must be “smart” with how they handle the likes of Jofra Archer so they have a coterie of fast bowlers capable of matching Australia’s firepower in the next Ashes.
The news Archer faces around three months on the sidelines with a low grade stress fracture of his right elbow, an injury that first surfaced at the World Cup last summer, has raised questions about his workload.
Archer bowled more overs in 2019 than any of his England team-mates, despite only making his international bow in May, although Silverwood insists he would not have handled the 24-year-old differently, even with the benefit of hindsight.
But the England head coach knows they will have to fight fire with fire on bouncy Australian surfaces in 2021/22 and having express pacemen such as Archer, Mark Wood and Olly Stone could be gold dust.
Silverwood envisages being able to alternate between any three speedsters to keep them in prime physical condition. Of the aforementioned trio only Wood is fully fit, with Stone recovering from a stress fracture of the lower back.
“The life of a fast bowler is hard. Injuries are going to happen. You won’t stop that,” Silverwood said.
“But the international calendar is now absolutely cram-packed so, to talk about smart cricket, from a managerial point of view we’ve got to be smart with how we handle our assets too.
“My dream, my ideal is to have three fast bowlers fit at any given point so we can rotate them, so they’re not always playing, and at any given point I’ve got one sat with his feet up full of energy, waiting to go.
“I would love to have those for the Ashes, because we all know we get judged on the Ashes, so how can we give ourselves the best chance of succeeding?
“If I have three of them fit there, whether it is those three or not, then it would be a great advantage for us.”
Particular scrutiny on Silverwood and England captain Joe Root came when Archer bowled 42 overs in an innings in his first overseas Test last November.
And Silverwood acknowledged they may need to use Archer in a similar way to Wood, who played in the final two Tests against South Africa last month to help England seal a 3-1 series victory.
“We managed Woody through the Test matches he played by bowling him in short, sharp spells,” Silverwood added. “Would we look to do that with Jofra from now on? Yes, we could be looking at that.”
Archer’s injury sidelines him from the two-Test tour to Sri Lanka next month, with England expected to name their squad later this week.
Silverwood confirmed Moeen Ali would also miss out as he continues his indefinite break from Test cricket but added the off-spinning all-rounder remains very much in his thinking.
“He’s still a very valuable asset to the Test side, always has been and always will be,” Silverwood said. “Mo, when he’s ready to come back, will give us some really good headaches which I’m really pleased about.
“My longer-term outlook on this is, if we can give Mo some time now and respect his wishes and support him, then long term we might have him back for longer.”
England secured a 1-1 draw in a relatively low-key one-day international series against South Africa following a nervy two-wicket victory at Johannesburg on Sunday.
They will finish their tour of South Africa with three Twenty20s, the first of which is at East London on Wednesday, with Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Wood set to return after being rested for the ODIs.
With this year’s T20 World Cup in mind, Silverwood added: “I would like to put the best XI out each time. We want to make sure we are fine tuning now and bringing the team together that we feel can win that World Cup.”