England draft in Adam Hollioake to bolster coaching staff

England draft in Adam Hollioake to work alongside Graham Thorpe and bolster their coaching staff with Chris Silverwood in Covid isolation as they desperately try to avoid 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Australia

  • Coach Chris Silverwood is in isolation after a family member tested positive
  • England have boosted coaching staff by enlisting help of Adam Hollioake
  • He will work alongside his former Surrey team-mate Graham Thorpe in Sydney
  • Jon Lewis and Jeetan Patel are other members of coaching team in quarantine
  • Joe Root’s team head into the Sydney Test trying to avert a series whitewash 

England have enlisted the help of their former one-day captain Adam Hollioake as they look to bolster a coaching set-up decimated by Covid ahead of Tuesday night’s fourth Test at the SCG.

With director of cricket Ashley Giles flying in to Australia earlier than planned in an attempt to understand exactly what has gone wrong on England’s Ashes trip, the 50-year-old Hollioake has received clearance to travel from his home on Australia’s Gold Coast to join the tour in Sydney.

He will be reunited with his old Surrey team-mate Graham Thorpe, who is in charge while head coach Chris Silverwood isolates in Melbourne after a member of his family tested positive for the virus.

Adam Hollioake has been drafted in to England’s coaching staff ahead of the fourth Ashes Test

Coach Chris Silverwood is isolating in Melbourne after a family member tested Covid positive

Bowling coach Jon Lewis and spin coach Jeetan Patel are already in quarantine, so the arrival of Hollioake – who led England in 14 of his 35 one-day internationals in the late 1990s, as well as winning four Test caps – will supply important back-up as Joe Root’s side attempt to stop a 3-0 deficit turning into a 5-0 whitewash.

Since the start of Silverwood’s absence, Thorpe has had to make do with the help of two consultants: Nottinghamshire assistant coach Ant Botha, brought on tour because his left-arm throwdowns were supposed to prepare England’s batsmen for the challenge of facing Mitchell Starc, and former Test wicketkeeper James Foster, who has been working with Jos Buttler.

It is understood England also tried to recruit fast-bowling coach Troy Cooley, the Australian whose involvement helped Michael Vaughan’s side to victory in the 2005 Ashes, but he is busy working for the BCCI in India. 

Thorpe said that Hollioake, who led Surrey to three championship titles around the turn of the millennium, would bring ‘a bit of energy to the dressing-room, and the philosophical side of life as well, which is very important in times like this. He’ll help out on the training days. He’s a good guy, and he’ll bring that nice sense of perspective.’

Assistant coach Graham Thorpe will be in charge of preparing England for the fourth Test

It is unclear whether Hollioake will travel on for the fifth Test at Hobart starting on January 14 – partly because a return date for Silverwood is yet to be finalised, partly because of heightened concern about the spread of the virus, with the number of positive cases in New South Wales almost doubling overnight to reach more than 21,000 on New Year’s Eve.

The news that Australia’s No 5 batsman Travis Head will miss the fourth Test after catching the virus has done little to calm fears in the England camp of further positive results among the hosts – not least because the two teams will continue to share a hotel in Sydney, albeit on different floors.

Head had dinner with opening batsman Marcus Harris on Wednesday night, and Australia’s charter flight to Sydney was delayed on Friday as players underwent further tests after Head’s positive result. 

Assuming no more twists, Thorpe’s challenge will be to lift his players. ‘I’ve seen the dark side of life,’ he said, a reference to his well-documented divorce several years ago and its bitter aftermath. ‘It’s a game of cricket, but losing hurts, and I want to see character from the guys.

Australian batsman Travis Head had been ruled out of the fourth Ashes Test with Covid-19

‘As a player, I’ve been bowled out in the West Indies for 40-odd. We won the next Test match. I look at this and see an opportunity to show people that we are not like that – we are better than that.’

Giles’s first task will be to decide on the fate of Silverwood, who is unlikely to continue in the job after losing the confidence of the dressing-room.

But there was irritation in the England camp after Gary Kirsten, the former South Africa and India coach who was beaten to the job two years ago by Silverwood, expressed an interest in replacing him before the vacancy had arisen.

Gary Kirsten says it would be an ‘honour’ to rebuild England’s Test side after their Ashes loss

‘I know Gary pretty well, so I know he’s a decent fella,’ said Thorpe. ‘But obviously at the moment Spoons is head coach and nobody is going to get drawn into that.’

England, meanwhile, look set to stick with Haseeb Hameed and Zak Crawley at the top of the order, despite their double failures at the MCG. Ollie Pope may come back into contention for a middle-order spot in place of Jonny Bairstow.

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