I have to be honest, I was somewhat unsure of Ashley Giles’ appointment as England One-Day Coach. Most know about the incredible work Andy Flower has done as England Head Coach. Taking over a side that looked despondent and broken following Peter Moores’ removal, and transforming them into a hungry, well-drilled outfit that was high in confidence and capable of beating anyone. He’d even managed to guide England’s long under performing ODI side from the lower echelons of the rankings to world number one.
So, when he decided to relinquish his duties as One-Day and hand over the baton to Ashley Giles in the process, many were slightly wary. Sure, Giles had led Warwickshire to their sixth County Championship title in their history, but he was a relative newcomer to coaching. It seemed as if the selectors were, once again, sticking with what they knew, especially considering Giles’ good relationship with his country after making 54 test appearances and having a spot on the Selectors committee.
It seemed almost certain that Giles’ cosy relationship with the ECB had played a part in him securing the role ahead of other highly-regarded county coaches. With this appointment, it was clear that the selectors were not only appointing a Short Format coach for the present, but also the future full-time England coach.
Giles’ first test was always likely to be a baptism of fire: coming up against an Indian team desperate to avenge the Test series loss to England and ODI loss to rivals Pakistan. Giles meanwhile, had the job of motivating a team who perhaps believed their work in India was done after a first test series victory for over 27 years.
Things started well, with an impressive nine run win in the first game of the series. However, they went largely downhill from there on in. Three successive beatings later, and it was clear that Giles had failed in his attempt to make the dream start in his new job.
Granted, England were missing Jonathan Trott’s steady, composed batting at three and Graham Swann’s wicket taking ability, but Giles and England were rather unimaginative in their squad selection.
Craig Kieswetter was once again given another chance following some dismal form over the past 12 months, whilst Jade Dernbach was given regular game time despite his increasingly predictable pace variations becoming even more tired and obvious to batsmen by the day.
Things went pretty disastrously for England’s Batsman after game one. Alastair Cook was on the end of a number of poor decisions, but the batting, in general, was substandard. Kieswetter failed again, Morgan, who had led from the front as captain in the T20 series, looked out of touch and lost, whilst Ian Bell’s inconsistent form continued again. Joe Root was a major plus point however, with Bairstow’s replacement arguably eclipsing his more established fellow Yorkshireman.
On the bowling front, things were little better. Steve Finn led the attack and was initially wayward following his recent injury trouble but eventually came good to back up his claim for a permanent spot in England’s team in all forms of the game. James Treadwell looked good too, bowling at a decent economy and occasionally taking an important wicket. However, Dernbach struggled badly. He was wayward, didn’t take many wickets and generally spent his time getting bashed around the park. For a young man who came into the team with promise, Dernbach seriously has to go back to the drawing board if he wants a long term future in the England side. Chris Woakes, who returned to the team undoubtedly via his association with Giles, did little to convince observers that he was capable of being a regular at this level.
Tim Bresnan, meanwhile, continued to look out of sorts and surely must be beginning to feel the heat following successive failures with bat and ball. For me, we did not see enough of Stuart Meaker, who deserved more of a chance after some decent performances at T20 level. For the first time in a while, England looked short in the pace bowling department and this was a key reason as to why the series was lost.
So, there’s a lot of food for thought for Giles. A conservative team selection, coupled with some odd choices meant England failed to offer much resistance. It seems absolutely crucial that Giles takes a harder line with his players, otherwise One-Day cricket is in danger of becoming the afterthought it was pre-Flower in England. Granted, Giles has made necessary changes for the series in New Zealand, with Kieswetter finally removed and Dernbach demoted to T20 duties only. The question mark will remain over Giles, however, until he can bring some of the success that Flower managed to achieve in this format of the game. Given that he is heir-apparent to Flower’s old full-time job, he will be given time to put his mark on the team. However, with the Champions Trophy fast approaching, it may not be as much time as he expected or wanted.
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