England cricket – Ed Smith’s tenure ends as national selector as role is made redundant
Chris Silverwood assumes responsibility with Joe Root and Eoin Morgan alongside him
Ed Smith is to leave the ECB with almost immediate effect after his role was made redundant.
Smith, who was appointed as national selector three years ago to the day, has been squeezed out after a restructure of the selection process by Ashley Giles, the managing director of England’s men’s cricket.
Under the new structure, the head coach, Chris Silverwood, will have responsibility for squad selections. He and the team captains, Joe Root in Test cricket and Eoin Morgan in the limited-overs formats, will then decide on the final XI together.
How Silverwood can combine his role as coach and selector remains to be seen. England’s relentless schedule provides him with little time to watch county or pathway cricket, though the ECB have previously said he may not need to be with the senior sides at all times.
He will, however, have some assistance. James Taylor keeps his job, though its title will change from ‘England selector’ to ‘head scout’, while Mo Bobat, the performance director, will also provide input. Information from performance analysis and scouting is likely to become more important.
“I would like to personally thank Ed for his contribution to the England men’s teams over the past three years,” Giles said. “Ed’s input has helped deliver successes for all our England Teams, and he has worked with commitment and professionalism throughout his time as National Selector. I wish him well in his future endeavours.
“The new structure also makes lines of accountability much clearer, with Chris Silverwood, as Head Coach, taking ultimate responsibility for picking England senior men’s squads.”
On the face of things, Smith is the victim of a restructuring that no longer has the necessity for his role. It may be relevant, however, that the relationship between Smith and some within the England set-up has been on the wane for some time. Some felt he attempted to interfere in team (rather than squad) selection, which has traditionally been the preserve of the captain and coach. Several players were understood to have taken a personal dislike to him.
It may be that the turning point for Smith’s tenure came in the Barbados Test of January 2019 when Stuart Broad was left out for Sam Curran and England lost heavily. Some felt Smith has exerted a surprising amount of pressure over the final selection.
There have been successes under Smith’s watch. Jos Buttler’s return to the Test team has, in general, been well received, while his willingness to back young players such as Curran and Dom Bess has refreshed the England side. Negatives include picking Jason Roy as an opener for the Ashes, asking Ollie Pope to bat at No. 4 in his first incarnation in the team and the apparent shunning of Moeen Ali.
“It has been a huge privilege to work with great people trying to help England cricket and I am excited about watching England’s continued development,” Smith said. “I’ve been very lucky to work with James Taylor, and I’m delighted that he will remain part of the new structure. My thanks to the dedicated team of scouts and to all the coaches, data analysts, medics and members of the ECB Pathway, who are available every day of the year at all hours to help England’s decision-makers.
“England’s two captains, Joe and Eoin, have already completed remarkable achievements in an England shirt. England has two men dedicated to playing cricket in a way that makes the country proud. The role of National Selector has been enjoyable and rewarding, and that is significantly due to my interaction with all of the England players.
“At such a high point for England cricket, I wish Ashley Giles, the coaches and all support staff good fortune over the coming months. I know how hard Ashley and his team work for England cricket. In particular, I’d like to wish Chris Silverwood good luck and every success going forward.”