Giles flies into Pietersen debate
Ashley Giles, having confirmed his interest in the taking on the England team director's role, is set to play a central part in deciding Kevin Pietersen's international future next week. According to newspaper reports, a meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, between Giles, Paul Downton and Alastair Cook, specifically to discuss Pietersen's involvement with the England team.
The meeting is not about selection, although it will directly influence the composition of England's World Twenty20 squad, which will be announced on Thursday. Andy Flower, who remains a selector despite stepping down as team director, is not expected to attend. Suggestions that Flower thought Pietersen should play no further part with England clouded the end of his reign.
Giles, the limited-overs coach who has previously referred to Pietersen as a "million-pound asset", Downton, England's new managing director, and the Test and ODI captain, Cook, will now try to determine a mutually agreed way forward.
Such ongoing issues, as well as the humiliation of a 7-1 reverse in the limited-overs matches in Australia, have not disturbed Giles' appetite to succeed Flower. He said after England suffered a T20 whitewash in Sydney that he would be applying for the post, which Flower vacated on Friday.
Giles has been installed as the bookmakers' favourite for a job that would reunite responsibility for England's Test, ODI and T20 teams under one coach and was described by Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, as a "very strong candidate".
"I'd be very interested in doing the job definitely," Giles said. "I'm not going to deny that and I'm sure I'll be applying for the post.
"It's one of the biggest jobs in cricket and I'd apply for it because I want to do it, as someone who was very proud to play for England and been proud to coach the one-day side. To do the whole job would be a fantastic opportunity but it's hard work as well and we've got a lot of hard work to do before whoever is announced to get in shape for the world cup."
Giles, who played 54 Tests for England, said he had not been expecting Flower to step away and was immediately in touch with Downton.
"I was a little surprised at the timing and of the announcement full stop," Giles said. "Andy's obviously, not had enough but wanted to call it a day and I guess it is time to move on. I spoke to Paul after the announcement about where I stand. I didn't know the detail of Andy's standing down at the time so I wanted to get clear on that."
Having served as England one-day coach since the beginning of 2013, Giles appeared well placed to add the Test side to his remit but his cause has not been helped by a weak showing in Australia, where both the ODI and T20 series were lost at the earliest possible stage.
England will attempt to put their Australian nightmare behind them in the West Indies at the end of the month, before the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, and Giles is well aware that results will feature prominently on his CV.
"I think it's important that I concentrate on what's coming up in the next couple of months," Giles said. "If I have to put an application in in the next couple of weeks then I'll think about it and get it done but results will talk as well.
"I've got a really big series in the West Indies and more importantly the World Cup in Bangladesh. Our record in the subcontinent for limited-overs cricket isn't great, so it's a good challenge. We're pretty much right at base-level now. And we've got a lot of hard work to do and a lot of talking to do to decide which 15 guys we take to Bangladesh to give us the best chance."
Giles's conversations with Downton will also concern the 15-man squad that England will select for the World T20. That squad, potentially plus an extra bowler, will travel to the West Indies for three ODIs and three T20s. James Whitaker, the new national selector, is expected to make his first announcement on Thursday, though Giles would not be drawn on Pietersen's chances of being included.
"We'll have a selection meeting when we get back to England," Giles said. "There's more than one bloke to talk about. You don't like guys living in fear but there's always careers and jobs on the line, whether coaching or playing, we've all got to be better and there'll be no substitute for hard work. That starts in the West Indies, guys can expect some early mornings and some late nights.
"We'll pick the squad this week and go from there. But picking those 15 names at the moment is going to be a tough task. I can't say how many changes there will be but conditions in Bangladesh will obviously be very different and we'll have to think about pace off the ball and spin options and think about our tactics full stop.
"Although we're playing three one-day games [in the Caribbean] it give us a good run in to Bangladesh. We need to do a lot of hard work and that will be good preparation."