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Butcher: I don’t understand why there is no longer a need for a national selector

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Former England batsman Mark Butcher has questioned the thinking behind England’s removal of their national selector post.

Last week, England announced the removal of Ed Smith from the post stating that ultimate responsibility for selection now falls under the remit of head coach Chris Silverwood.

Speaking on the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, Butcher argued that the removal of the national selector post could leave the head coach with conflicted priorities and too much on his plate.

“I kind of don’t understand it,” said Butcher. “I don’t understand why there is no longer a need for a national selector. It feels to me a little bit like one of those decisions where the pendulum has swung too far to the left and then it swings all the way back around to the right rather than nestling somewhere in the middle.”

Butcher pointed out that Silverwood’s opportunities to watch the county cricketers in contention will be limited by his duties as England head coach.

“Because, as we all know, the coach of the national team doesn’t get a chance to go sit around and watch county cricket,” said Butcher. “They don’t see anybody so they’re always relying on other people’s eyes and other people’s opinions in the first place.

“At least with Ed Smith because he had very few other responsibilities, he could actually spend time and do those jobs. Once England start playing – Chris Silverwood will be around watching cricket at the moment – but as soon as the England team swing into action he’s off the scene, he has no idea what’s going on beyond what his advisors are telling him.”

Butcher also suggested that the priorities of a selector and a head coach sometimes come into conflict, leading to a difficult balancing act.

“I find it curious,” Butcher said. “Particularly given that he has so many other responsibilities and so many others areas whereby he has to either put out fires or be responsible for split captains, different needs of playings being rested, all these other kinds of stuff. Does he need that too?

“The coach needs to be separate. A coach is responsible for the results. Head coach: responsible for results, responsible for getting the teams that are under his care to go out there and perform and play in the now.

“A selector’s job is far more wide-ranging than that. You’re looking at people for potentially a tow or three years down the road. You’re looking for pragmatic decisions you have to make on a player, like Adam Lyth for example, who might be a little bit older but you think now is the time for someone like him.

“The coach then having to be responsible for that as well as the results of the team he’s in charge of is very, very difficult. If I’m in charge and it’s my job is on the line, I’m thinking about today and maybe the game next week. I’m not thinking three years down the line. A selector has to be thinking that much further ahead and shouldn’t be held responsible for the results of today given he’s trying to do a job for tomorrow as well. I find that those two things don’t work, there’s too much of a conflict there.”

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