This summer has brought a new audience to cricket. In 10 or 15 years’ time, we will be hearing from young England players who fell in love with cricket in 2019. Everything about it was great, from the pitches, the full grounds that created brilliant atmospheres, to the exciting cricket produced by the best players in the world.
The sport needed this summer. Cricket has started to appeal to people again and it must be used as a springboard.
For the team, it is time to take stock. I have no concerns about England’s white ball side. They have a group of players who are going to remain very competitive. They just need to make sure they are favourites going into next year’s Twenty20 World Cup and they have the style of players capable of pulling it off.
Now it is down to the next coach of the white-ball team to work out how they win a World Cup in India in 2023. That will be the ultimate challenge. Now is the time to start putting strategic plans in place to win that competition, like they did four years ago to win in England. The cycle starts again because you have to keep improving.
The Test team played well at the Oval but have been inconsistent for too long. The new coach has to work out how they can play with a point to prove week in, week out. They are a better team when they have been criticised than after being praised. They get the bit between their teeth when they have had a rocket. How can the new coach make sure that is their mentality all the time and not just after some criticism?
They also have to finally accept the way to play Test cricket is to bat for long periods. I think the penny dropped in the last Test. England have the tools to be competitive in Australia in two years’ time but we have to be realistic. England have to be dedicated and committed to Test cricket. The new coach has to identify what it is that can make England successful in Australia.
Fundamentally, the first thing they have to do is train the brain to score 450-500. You are not winning in Australia with 300. They also have to produce relentless bowling performances on day one when conditions are against them, not just like at the Oval when they were ahead of the game from halfway through day two. England are very good in their own conditions and when on top. How do they come back from losing the toss in good conditions? Can they bowl relentless line and length under pressure?
In terms of coaching structure, if you are going to have one head coach, then fine, but he needs time off, too. I would go for separate Test and one-day coaches. But if they want one person in charge then they have to go for a football manager-style supremo who is across all three formats and a very good communicator because that will be a vital part of the job.
I want to see some diehard Test-loving coaches in the ranks who are completely committed to Test cricket. That is all they live and breath so when players arrive in the Test side they are surrounded by Test experts.
When the white-ball games are on, the Test coaches should be out watching County cricket or working with the players who are Test specialists. It should be vice versa for the one-day coaches working under the head coach. In April and May, when England do not generally play white-ball cricket, the coaches go and get a gig in the Indian Premier League.
But it is the commitment to Test cricket I want to see. I want to see Joe Root, the captain of the Test side, rested from white-ball cricket. He should not be playing in the 50-over games in South Africa this winter. For him, it is about committing to winning the Ashes in Australia. After that there will be a year-and-a-half to focus on the 50-over World Cup in India.
England need a top six just dedicated to Test batting. Stokes and Root are capable of playing all formats but I want to see a diehard top three who want to nullify the new ball. I want to see a No 6 who can score hundreds as well.
I do not care where the next coach is from. I just want the best person to lead England. If they want a manager, I would not rule out Alec Stewart. If they want a coach then I would be happy to see someone like Mike Hesson, the former New Zealand coach, or Andrew McDonald, from Australia. If they want someone to promote from within the system, then Chris Silverwood is the only one.
It is a challenge but it is a group of players you would not mind getting hold of. They have an outstanding all-rounder, a captain who is world class at four, a quick bowler in Jofra Archer we have not seen for many years, talent like Jos Buttler and an opener in Rory Burns. There is also Moeen Ali, Saqib Mahmood, Olly Stone and Craig Overton, while James Anderson and Stuart Broad are still going.
It is a great job for someone.
— The Telegraph Group Limited, London 2019