West Indies v England, 3rd T20, Bridgetown March 12, 2014

Giles seeks ray of sunshine

It was once said by PG Wodehouse that "it is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine."

While it might be stretching a point to describe Ashley Giles, the England limited-overs coach, as a man with a grievance, there was no disguising his low mood when he appeared before the media in Barbados on Wednesday.

It is understandable, too. His side has now been beaten five times in succession in T20I cricket and has lost the series against West Indies with one game in hand. Furthermore, the batting appears vulnerable against spin - the top-order batting appears vulnerable against everything - and his captain, Stuart Broad, has an injury that might well prove rather more troublesome than the England camp are letting on. At some stage, his injured knee is going to require several weeks off and, perhaps, an operation.

As if all that was not enough, Giles takes this struggling team to Bangladesh in a few days to contest a World T20 tournament for which they appear woefully unprepared. And he does so knowing that his application to become England coach in all formats might well be decided by the outcome.

So Giles was noticeably downbeat and admitted he was concerned by England's poor form. While he celebrated the encouraging performance of Jos Buttler in the second T20I, he stressed that the middle order could not consistently be expected to bail England out of a mess if the top order has failed.

"Sure, we're concerned," Giles said. "We've lost five in a row. Clearly we're not playing very good Twenty20 cricket and we haven't done for a period now.

"We'll go into the tournament as underdogs. We're just not getting into matches. That's the biggest concern. Four of the last five occasions we've been three down at six overs. The other time we were two down. If you consistently do that, you're behind the eight ball.

"As good as the players we've got coming into our middle order, it's very difficult for them to salvage games from those positions. Jos Buttler was fantastic and showed a glimpse of his world-class quality. But unfortunately we're working from a low-base after six overs quite a lot. And from that position it gives you very little chance to kick-on and attack all the way through your innings. You have to go through a certain amount of rebuilding. So that's disappointing and it is frustrating.

"We're consistently having problems with spin as well, so we have to keep working on those skills against spin. In Bangladesh it's definitely going to play a part. We'd be naïve and stupid to think that probably every team we come up against is not going to open up with spin against us.

"We have to try to find a formula at the top. I know you guys will say 'isn't that a worry?' going into a world tournament that you don't know what your best top three is, but before the one we won here, the opening partnership changed a couple of games before the tournament, so it's not the end of the world."

The problem for Giles is instilling confidence into a group of players who are beginning to become uncomfortably familiar with defeat. He knows that, if England are to even challenge in Bangladesh, they have to play a brand of positive cricket that currently looks beyond them. But he also knows that, the more the side lose, the more hesitant and uncertain they will become.

"Our message is, quite clearly, 'go and express yourselves, we back you, go and play your way,'" Giles said. "The guys in those positions, we've backed them, we support them, we keep working with them and we need them to start putting in some results as well. They know that.

"But I think, as much as you say that, you have to understand that guys who are struggling for runs - in the heat of battle, with options going through their head - are sometimes going to hesitate. And if you slightly back off that option just before you make it, then you're going to get into trouble.

"Losing isn't great preparation. Confidence is important and winning games is always good for the side.

"But the wickets we've played on against this side are actually pretty good for where we're going and who we're going to be playing against. And we've come up also against a very, very good side here."

There are signs, however, that Giles' faith in his own team is starting to wear. He knows he lacks a spinner to compete with the likes of Sunil Narine, or an opening batsman to compare to Chris Gayle

"We can't 'magic' guys out of thin air," he said. "West Indies have great personnel at the moment. We've got very good personnel, but very different.

"But we have to work with what we have, and I think we've got some very good players in the side."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Martin on March 14, 2014, 4:50 GMT

    What I find astonishing in all this is the headless chicken effect. Lets face it 9 months ago we went into an Ashes series in England as roaring unbackable favourites. Australia were in disarray and we duly flayed them 3-0 which is one of our biggest home wins ever against the old enemy. A little while after that England came over here again as favourites. Johnson wasn't even considered for the Ashes series in England and would not have played in Australia either had the Aus young guns been fit. It's one of crickets most amazing features that otherwise unpredictable useless players can turn in a fluke good season or series. This is what has happened - one player out of nowhere has turned in a good series. And what happens -? England melt down like a chocolate teapot and the whole set up disintegrates. It's ridiculous. But now that it has happened consequences follow - and, just 6 months after winning the Ashes 3-0 - these are the consequences....

  • Dummy4 on March 13, 2014, 16:31 GMT

    @jackiethepen: What was this four page document of KP misdemeanors ? Must have missed that..

    Also why do people go on so much about KP and how England will miss him and have been wrong-footed - the last match he played in this format was over 2 years ago ! Given that sort of appearance record England should have worked out a plan B before now !

  • Android on March 13, 2014, 15:45 GMT

    He has nobody but himself to blame for this mess. He allowed the best T20 player in the world to be kicked out of the side after all.

  • Jackie on March 13, 2014, 15:02 GMT

    Part of the trouble is the dark ominous cloud over all of this. Giles may have helped to select the side. But we know from pronouncements by Flower that he was top boss and had the last word and rested and retired players as he thought fit. His last salvo was to produce a four page document of misdemeanours of KP during the Ashes. A pity he wasn't writing a list of his own errors and misjudgements and mismanagements it would have covered more than four pages. The sacking of KP has wrong-footed England and Giles is having to deal with the fall-out. It has weakened his side beyond reclaiming - after all he did fully expect Pietersen to play as he was originally in the bigger squad. It's not just KP's experience and skill, it is also his confidence in the format. It would have been the spur for the side. The message also is - Step out of line and you will get the boot. If you can sack KP how is anyone safe? And that goes for Giles and everyone. It's a malign culture.

  • Richard on March 13, 2014, 12:58 GMT

    Oh Ashley, the K.O.S.. Just keep writing notes in you school exercise book. It'll all come Wright (sic) in the end. Keep going forward , never Durnback(sic). Stop looking GLumb. Keep Parrying the blows. Ring the Bell, someone might come to the rescue. You'll be Ok sitting by the pool, the Butler will bring the drinks. On the other hand, you've got Broad shoulders, So could just admit this team is rubbish.

  • Will on March 13, 2014, 12:53 GMT

    @Manxmuppet Oh yeah because Jos Buttler doesn't have natural flair and talent when he's scooping full length balls over the keeper for six I don't think KP can get close to some of the shots Jos plays. Not to mention KP is past it and a diva.

  • Ben on March 13, 2014, 11:31 GMT

    "go and express yourselves, we back you, go and play your way"

    It's all very well saying that now (as if echoing Boof's pre-Ashes instructions), the problem is all natural flair seems to have been drained out of the England players over the last couple of years.

    All except one, and he's not allowed to play in this team any more.

  • Chris on March 13, 2014, 9:58 GMT

    I don't suppose selection policy has anything to do with the slump in performances. Who needs players like Pietersen (who Ashley thought it "right" to sack) when you can keep selecting Luke Wright in various positions. We are on the edge of our seats wondering whether he'll reach double figures in today's game and bring his short game Caribbean average up to around six (below his bowling average). But you can't have everything and he is suitably deferential to the captain and coaches.

  • Dummy4 on March 13, 2014, 7:48 GMT

    "... There are signs, however, that Giles' faith in his own team is starting to wear": He picked them didn't he ? It's been his job since Nov 2012 - and he still hasn't got a clue which is his best side ! It's him that insists that Wright is an international batsman and Dernbach a good bowler (hilarious watching Dernbach give a masterclass on T20 bowling on SKY the other day - how NOT to do it). It looks - in football parlance - as if he's "lost the dressing room" with the obviously demotivated performances of the team. But I still fully expect the ECB to appoint him as full time coach..................not because he is any good but because the ECB won't want to admit a mistake and that Giles is considered a safe pair of hands (which is also Jobs for the boys)

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