Steve Harmison insists getting rid of Joe Root and Chris Silverwood as captain and head coach would not solve England’s problems after they surrendered the Ashes to Australia.
England were bowled out for 68 before lunch on day three at the MCG as Pat Cummins’ men took an unassailable 3-0 series lead with a victory by an innings and 14 runs in Melbourne.
Root himself refused to say whether he would continue to captain England beyond the series, while Silverwood insisted his players are still responding to his coaching methods despite their third straight series defeat Down Under.
England would be ‘short-sighted’ to get rid of Joe Root and Chris Silverwood as captain and head coach, according to Steve Harmison
Joe Root’s men surrendered the Ashes to Australia after being bowled out for 68 in Melbourne
And while the pair’s futures have still come under scrutiny – not least from former Australia batsman Damien Martyn – 2005 Ashes hero Harmison believes sacking the duo will achieve little, and claims England’s Test side is in worse state than England’s white-ball side were in 2015.
Eoin Morgan’s men were knocked out in the group stages of the 50-over World Cup in Australia and New Zealand six years ago, but a transformation in their approach saw them win the same tournament four years later on home soil.
‘If we think getting rid of the captain and coach is the answer… it is so ridiculously short-sighted,’ Harmison told BT Sport.
‘The system at home needs to change. This moment right now is England’s red-ball team in a lot worse state than the white-ball team was in 2015, when we left the World Cup with our tail between our legs.
Root refused to confirm whether he would remain as skipper beyond the end of the Ashes
But Harmison insists it is the system, rather than the Root and Silverwood, that must change
‘We pressed the reset button [then], and I think we have to [here]. How do you get a batsman to get a hundred in a Test match? You have to learn how to bat for six hours.
‘There is only one person in this team batting for six hours consistently over the course of a long period of time i.e. two, three, four years, and that is Joe Root.’
In Harmison’s view, England must find divert some of the focus on white-ball cricket and the commercial aspects of the game, as well as changing the approach and schedule of the County Championship to improve their Test match cricket.
‘It goes back to the basics and fundamentals about where do you learn your game.
‘You don’t face cricketers in first-class cricket anywhere near to what you face in Test match cricket. The jump and the gulf is huge. It is not country cricket that is the problem, it is when we play it and how we play it.
He believes England’s current Test team is in a worse state compared to the white-ball team in 2015
‘If that changes, it gives us a chance to bridge the gap between playing at home and playing away. A Test match last five days, and we are barely getting into day three, largely down to batting.
‘You have got to identify what is going to be the key components that will try and make the England red-ball cricket team the best.
‘They have got to try and find a balance between red and white, because there is too much dominance from the white [ball game], as well as the commercial side of the game.
‘Money makes the world go round, but at this minute in time I don’t think we have seen red-ball cricket be as bad as what it is for probably before I started playing.’
Meanwhile, current England all-rounder Moeen Ali – who retired from Test cricket in September – believes the focus on white-ball cricket has directly negatively impacted the country’s performances in the Test arena.
England crashed out in the group stages of the 50-over World Cup more than six years ago
But a transformation in approach saw them win the same competition just four years later
Asked on BT Sport if England’s World Cup ‘obssession’ has directly damaged England’s prospects with the red ball, he said: ‘Potentially, yeh, I think so.
‘It [focus on white-ball cricket] obviously worked because we won the World Cup and we have done really well in white-ball cricket.
‘I just feel now that the white-ball is so set and strong, and the foundations and players are there, we need that in red-ball cricket as well now.
‘The emphasis has been so much on white-ball cricket that it has taken over big time. We just need to balance it back out again and give a lot more emphasis to red-ball cricket.’
The message was similar from former batsman Jonathan Trott, who won the Ashes Down Under in 2010-11.
All-rounder Moeen Ali said the white-ball focus has ‘potentially’ impacted the Test team
‘The crucial things is balance. Both need to be given as much priority as the other. We saw the success when we focused on the white ball with regards to targeting the 2019 World Cup,’ the former England No 3 said.
‘We saw the knock-on effect that had on English cricket and the popularity of the game. With the red ball now there is huge opportunity for younger players as well, to make it attractive to be a Test player.
‘There’s a lot of glitz and glamour and money being thrown around in the white-ball game, but the Test game is the most important format for cricketers, so I think it should be given that attention.
‘Younger players need to be coached how to bat time and build an innings, not just how many you can score off 10 balls.’
Former England No 3 Jonathan Trott also claimed balance must be found in their approach