Silverwood a born scrapper

Derek Hodgson looks at the latest fast bowler recruited to the England ranks
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The Independent Online
Chris Silverwood was posing with his silver statuette, a replica of F S Trueman, at a London hotel last Friday, signifying his election as Young Cricketer of the Year. I asked him how much he was looking forward to the "A" tour of Australia. "If selected, terrific. I'd be even more chuffed if I thought I'd a chance of going on the senior tour," he said.

"That would be going in at the deep end."

Silverwood grinned: "I'll take that. I like the deep end."

He is not cocky, rather someone to whom life is a succession of challenges. Born in Pontefract, a part of Yorkshire that puts a chip on the shoulder - Geoff Boycott's home of Fitzwilliam is five miles away - he lists his parents as "Brenda Millicent". He went to a comprehensive in Garforth.

Even as a kid he had speed, endurance and good co-ordination, qualities that took him into Yorkshire's athletics team and caught the eye of Pontefract cricket club.

By 1993, at 18, he was a regular member of Yorkshire's second team and their coach, Dougie Padgett, reported: "For someone so young he has a very mature temperament. He has made great strides".

David Graveney, now a selector, remembers his first meeting with "Spoons": "His first ball hit me on the helmet. I went over and he walked down the wicket to ask, 'Are you all right, Mr Graveney?'. I was impressed by that. I struggled to my feet, took guard again, and lost my middle stump."

Yorkshire gave Silverwood a debut that year, and the next year, 1994, would bring the big push. Instead he suffered a stress fracture of the back. Two winters were spent playing in Cape Town.

Last year his developing physique and speed attracted attention. One seasoned watcher opined: "This lad will be a better bowler than Darren Gough." Five years behind the England bowler, Silverwood found an outswinger and a faster delivery, improved his accuracy and had that priceless qualification: he always wanted the ball.

Come 1996 and a new captain, David Byas, ensured Silverwood's first-team place by giving him the new ball alongside Gough. The response was both expected and admirable: he has become an excellent deep field, fast with a long, accurate throw, and a useful batsman; a Gough without the bravado.

In temperament and demeanour, he probably resembles most, among England fast bowlers, Brian Statham. But Statham would be astonished by one aspect of Christopher Eric William Silverwood: he neither drinks nor smokes.