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Sir Alastair Cook hails Chris Silverwood's "organised planning"

:Headline: Sir Alastair Cook hails Chris Silverwood's 'organised planning':
Cook agreed with the inclusion of Keaton Jennings in the Test squad for the tour of Sri Lanka.

Chris Silverwood's clear and organised methods are starting to show in England's Test team, according to Sir Alastair Cook.

The former Essex head coach secured a first international series victory in red-ball cricket last month as England beat South Africa 3-1.

The critics were out when England were beaten in the first Test in South Africa, which followed defeat in New Zealand at the end of 2019 in Silverwood's first series since stepping up from his bowling coach role to replace Trevor Bayliss.

Chris Silverwood, right, stepped up to replace Trevor Bayliss, left (Mike Egerton/PA)

But Joe Root's side bounced back impressively to win the next three Tests and showed promising signs according to their former captain and current Essex opener.

Cook, speaking at the Gray-Nicolls HQ, told the PA news agency: "You are starting to see the Chris Silverwood mould if you like being very clear, with simple and organised planning, which I knew well from Essex.

"The success Essex have had over the last couple of years (two County Championship titles in three seasons), he laid the platform for that and changed a few things and you are starting to see that with the England side.

"New Zealand was only two games, but that is not an easy place to go and win and it is not easy to win away anywhere at the moment.

"People were saying, 'Is he the right man?' But the way they fought back after that first Test match in South Africa, after all the illness and Rory Burns going down on the eve of the match, it was great character from the whole squad and the leadership group should take a lot of credit for that."

The next challenge in Test cricket for Silverwood is a short tour of Sri Lanka in March, where Keaton Jennings and Ben Foakes have returned to the fold.

Both played the last time England toured Sri Lanka in November 2018 and scored centuries, which helped with their inclusion in a 16-man squad.

Although it is only a two-Test series, Cook agrees with the recall of Lancashire opener Jennings.

"The thing I like about this England squad is, even with people not making that tour due to injuries, they can play different styles of cricket and they have options," he added.

Alastair Cook, left, and Keaton Jennings, right, have opened the batting together for England (Nick Potts/PA)

"You are seeing Keaton Jennings as cover for the top-order. He is experienced in the sub-continent, he scored his two Test hundreds there and knows the conditions well.

"If there is an injury the day before the game, you have someone who knows what he is doing and it is a really important Test series so to me it is clear – he goes."

Burns injured his ankle ahead of the second Test in South Africa and so Zak Crawley earned a shot at opening alongside Dominic Sibley.

Sibley scored 133 not out to help England win the match and level the series, while in the fourth Test the duo put on a century stand for the first wicket.

"What you have seen so far in their fledgling careers is they are made of the right stuff," Cook said.

"You add Rory Burns to the mix and there is competition at the top of the order, which England haven't had for a long while."

Since retiring from international cricket, Cook has continued to score runs for Essex and was at Gray-Nicolls on Friday for the launch of their Tree Legacy Programme.

The initiative, which will help make their business more environmentally sustainable, will see a willow tree planted every time a Gray-Nicolls ambassador scores an international hundred.

England's record Test run-scorer, Cook, planted 33 willow trees for each Test hundred he scored.

He added: "To just be associated with Gray-Nicolls for such a long period of time and to have such a good bat and kit manufacturer behind my career, I am very lucky."

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