India and England are set to lock horns in four Tests, three ODIs, and five T20Is. The first and second Test will be played in Chennai, beginning February 5.
“The one thing Australia has shown is India will be a difficult team to beat. It’s a great challenge for us. Do I think we can beat them? Yes. I always take the positive side of things. I think we can beat them, but we know it’s going to be a hard-fought contest. If we come out on top of this one, confidence again will go through the roof for us. I respect the fact they are a fine side with some really good players. We’re going to have to be at the top of our game,” said Silverwood during a virtual press conference.
“We are going there with our eyes open. We know it is going to be a tough challenge. We know they are an excellent team, especially in their own conditions, and we respect that. But I think it is an exciting challenge. We are in a good place. We are constantly growing. But we completely respect how big a challenge it is,” he added.
For the first two Tests against India, England management has decided to rest Jonny Bairstow. After the first Test, Jos Buttler would also return home. Former England players like Michael Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen have said that England should play their best possible XI, rather than rotating their players.
Speaking about the rotation policy, Silverwood said: “We have got to look after our people. We are spending a lot of time locked in hotels and bio-secure bubbles and it is not easy. It is good we are being proactive. I am perfectly happy with the system at the moment. We have decided that we need to look after our players and I do believe we have been proactive. I would ask them to understand why we do what we do. It is in the best interest of each player and to get the most out of them, long-term.”
When asked whether Bairstow will come straight into the playing XI for the third Test against India, Silverwood replied: “Bairstow will come back into the group then the rest is down to selection. We don’t make any guarantees to anybody. I don’t think you can, you don’t know where you’ll be at any given time. I do think it’s right he has a rest. Jonny is very busy, a multi-format player and we’ve got to look after him, give him a bit of time at home to chill out. He did well – Jonny asked me the same question and I said he’d done very well. He went in during some difficult periods of the game and applied himself well on what we’re testing wickets. I was pleased with him.”
The England cricket team will depart for India from Sri Lanka on Wednesday and the side will be arriving in Chennai. The touring party will then quarantine for six days in the team hotel. Ben Stokes, Rory Burns and Jofra Archer have already arrived in Chennai and they have begun their quarantine period.
The practice for the full squad will commence for the first time on Tuesday, February 2. On Monday, England had defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets in the second Test to win the series 2-0. Joe Root was awarded both Man of the Match and Series for his impeccable form with the bat.
England squad for first two Tests against India: Joe Root (Yorkshire) (captain), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Dom Bess (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Ben Foakes (Surrey), Dan Lawrence (Essex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Dom Sibley (Warwickshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Olly Stone (Warwickshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire).
Reserves: James Bracey (Gloucestershire), Mason Crane (Hampshire), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Matthew Parkinson (Lancashire), Ollie Robinson (Sussex), Amar Virdi (Surrey).