England head coach Chris Silverwood believes Joe Root’s leadership played a key role in ensuring he could select the strongest possible squad for the Ashes tour to Australia.
For several months it seemed possible the Ashes would be cancelled due to the concerns of England’s players and their families about Australia’s tough coronavirus quarantine rules.
England vice-captain Jos Buttler was among the senior players to express doubts about taking part in the series, which starts in Brisbane on December 8.
But Silverwood said Test skipper Root’s compassionate, diplomatic approach helped get the players to buy into the tour eventually.
When Silverwood revealed England’s 17-man Ashes squad on Sunday, there were no objectors or opt-outs from the list.
“There were a lot of negotiations that went on and one thing we did see was a lot of class from our captain. He really did lead from the front,” Silverwood said.
“I can’t emphasise enough how classy he was within those negotiations and the way he listened to both sides of the argument.
“He showed a lot of empathy and a lot of really good leadership skills to get the players to this point. His players have got behind him and will follow him, so will I and my staff.
“What it has done, I think, is galvanise his position as a leader. All the boys have recognised that, all my staff have recognised that and it has made us all pull in behind him.”
England’s star all-rounder Ben Stokes remains on an indefinite break from cricket while he prioritises his mental health and recovers from a finger injury.
There appears to be some logistical wriggle room for Stokes to join up with the Ashes squad as a late arrival.
But, considering the sensitivity of his situation, Silverwood refused to give any indication if that could happen.
“There will be no pressure from me for him to rush back. When Ben is ready, he’ll give me a call and then we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said.
“My first intent is to make sure he’s OK from a well-being point of view.”