Ed Smith has been stood down as England’s national selector after three years in the role, following a restructure that ends selection by committee and hands Chris Silverwood, the men’s head coach, full control of choosing squads.
Announcing the news in a statement on Tuesday evening, Ashley Giles, the managing director of England men’s cricket, cited the need for “greater lines of accountability” and advances in technology that make the need for a panel redundant.
Shifting additional power and responsibility to Silverwood represents a bold move by Giles in a year when England’s men are looking to win the World T20 in India – adding it to the 50-over title they claimed in 2019 – and then regain the Ashes in Australia. However, with England having used enlarged squads since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – and information on players more available these days – Silverwood has full knowledge of the resources at his disposal. Selection on match day will continue to be done in conjunction with the captains, Joe Root in Tests and Eoin Morgan in white-ball games.
Giles said: “I would like to personally thank Ed for his contribution to the England men’s teams over the past three years. 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 current process of selecting England teams has been in place for over 120 years. Even though this system has its merits, with advances in technology and a greater information gathering resource at our disposal than ever before, the restructure is in the best interests of helping England men’s teams be successful.
“ 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.”
The revamp means a new role for James Taylor, Smith’s deputy on the now dissolved panel, with the former Nottinghamshire batsman now employed as head scout. Taylor’s scouting network and Mo Bobat, the men’s performance director, will feed information into Silverwood but crucially all decisions will be the head coach’s to make.
Smith’s tenure as national selector did much to advance the informed use of data in selection and, having been hired by Giles’s predecessor, Andrew Strauss, back in 2018, the 43-year-old stands down from the role with England’s white-ball team No 1 in both 50-over and Twenty20 cricket, and the Test side ranked fourth.
Shortcomings in some elements of people management occurred along the way, while the recent winter tours were subject to criticism over the rotation policy that saw Twenty20 prioritised and Joe Root’s Test side suffer a chastening 3-1 defeat in India.
However Smith’s departure – plus the removal of the national selector role – also comes at a time when the England and Wales Cricket Board is looking to save money following Covid-related losses in excess of £100m last year that forced the governing body to make 62 other jobs redundant.
Smith, as part of the England statement, said: “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.
“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.”