England head coach Chris Silverwood defended England’s controversial rest and rotate policy and claimed that the system needed to be there to ensure that the players are not physically and mentally burnt out. Silverwood further claimed that England might very well rest players even in the Ashes.
Eyebrows were raised when multiple English players flew back home before the India series as a part of ECB’s rest and rotate policy, and while victory in the first Test in Chennai kept critics silent, the controversial policy came under the scanner immediately post the thumping defeat in the second Test. Eventually, as England lost the series 3-1 without having a full-strength side at their disposal, the ECB came under fire from several experts and ex English cricketers, who lambasted the board for not prioritizing Test cricket.
But despite the rest and rotate policy mostly receiving negative feedback, England head coach Chris Silverwood defended it vehemently. Silverwood reiterated that England play an unacceptable amount of cricket in 2021 and stressed that it was of paramount importance for the board to ensure that the players are fit - not just physically, but also mentally.
“The rotation system, I'm happy with that. You look at the amount of cricket that we've played and the amount we have in front of us, we have got to be proactive in looking after our players, making sure we keep them as fresh as possible so we can keep them going as long as possible,” Silverwood said after the series, reported Cricbuzz.
"We talk about working our way towards the Ashes and I want the squad to arrive there fit and in form, both physically and mentally. It's a tough tour, we know that, and one we're prioritising. So we want to make sure everyone arrives at that point in as good a place as possible. We have to look after our players."
Accusations were made earlier that England choosing to rest players for the India series was a direct result of them not taking the tour seriously, but Silverwood rubbished those allegations. The England head coach insisted that the players and the support staff gave their absolute everything and conceded that the visitors were ultimately outplayed by a far superior Indian side.
"'No-one took this series lightly I can promise you that, absolutely not. We came here wanting to win this and we went hard in that first Test and won it. India then came back hard in the last three Tests.
"It's a very difficult place to come to and win. We've seen that time and time again. History tells you that, not just for England but for other countries as well. Don't for one minute think we took this series lightly because we didn't. But we knew it was going to be tough.”
England’s rest and rotate policy kicked in during their limited-overs tour of South Africa, and is believed to have been implemented with a vision to have every single player fit and firing for the Ashes, scheduled to start in about eight months’ time. But, according to Silverwood, there could very well arise a scenario where the Three Lions might end up resting players mid-Ashes.
"Well we have to be proactive in looking after them, so it's certainly something that we may have to look at, yes,” Silverwood said, when asked if the policy will be implemented in the Ashes.