With England 0-1 down and in need of a lift, you can imagine the citizens of Pudsey and Castleford crying, “hi-ho Silvers’ away,” as he set off to replace his injured Yorkshire teammate, Darren Gough, on Sunday. When he was named, David Graveney described him as “like for like” with Simon Jones, which roughly equates to pace without finesse, but Yorkies will see it as one white rose replacing another.
A decent cove, Silverwood, 27, is set to play alongside Steve Harmison and Alex Tudor against Australia A in the three-day match which starts Friday. Providing Matthew Hoggard is given another chance, there is a place up for grabs between the three of them in the next Test, the kind of stern competition that should make the ‘pace race’ at the weekend an interesting spectacle.
As a pace bowler, the attributes needed to exploit Australian pitches are height and accuracy, all topped off with a hint of seam or swing. Glenn McGrath has all four, something the England trio on trial later this week, all tall men, must strive to find.
Attitude, vital in all Test cricket these days, is even more important out here, where heat, careless fielders and Aussie batsmen can all drive bowlers to distraction. With Harmison, the pace and bounce is there, but with little corroborative evidence of the temperament — or even temper — to add that extra bite.
Tudor, too, has the talent but not the tenacity, or at least that is the impression given by the selectors. Before his late call-up here, they sent him back for another year at the academy, the brief being to harden him up.
Which brings us to Silverwood, an effort bowler with the fastest recorded delivery (93.1 mph) of any England bowler. One of those balls came in the Port Elizabeth Test against South Africa, the other in a Sunday League match against Durham. But out-and-out pace is no longer the asset it used to be (batsmen generally play it better now) and, if he had made strides since he last played a Test, in South Africa during 2000, he would surely have been in the original selection for this tour.
He was not, which can work in two ways depending on the personality involved. Either he realises that the management do not rate him and he will wilt, or he will do everything in his power to prove them wrong — that is the extent of the psychology needed in sport.
“I know I’m at the back of the pecking order, but it’s up to me to work hard and force my way up it,” Silverwood said in Hobart. He will have to hit his stride quickly, this being the last three-day match outside the Tests, and that may not be easy considering the problems he had with a floating bone in his left foot at the end of last season.
“It’s fine now and I’ve just come back from playing the Hong Kong Sixes where the ball was coming out fast. Speed is my asset, I just need to find consistency to get it in the right areas. I’ve never played in Australia before, but the pitches go through a bit.”
Another product of the Yorkshire Academy along with Gough and Hoggard, Silverwood, having replaced one from the bench, may replace the other in the Test team.