England news March 30, 2014

England prepare for spring clean


As England prepare to leave the World T20, disappointed at failing to go further but sustained by small signs of encouragement, Ashley Giles was looking forward to continuing the regeneration process. Spring provides the opportunity for renewal and, although Giles is not certain to oversee England's new era, the forthcoming season appears ripe with opportunity.

Giles will return to begin preparations for an interview with the ECB for the vacant position of head coach, uniting the Test and limited-overs roles that were split under Andy Flower's aegis at the end of 2012. Giles is favourite for a job that he "would love to do" and, while he is still honing his style as an international coach, his first principles are apparent: hard work, positivity and a sense of the commonweal. His praise for the "ego-less group" that England took to Bangladesh was telling.

There was recognition, too, that England's performance have sunk to an unacceptable low over the last six months, in which they lost 12-1 across all formats in Australia before achieving mixed results in the Caribbean and Bangladesh.

"We are all disappointed with where the team is," Giles said. "Losing games of cricket is not fun, losing series and getting knocked out of World Cups is not fun. We are here to build and we try to do that every day. Going forward we have to work incredibly hard and be better in a lot of departments than we are. We have to better our position across the board, skills, fielding, fitness - all areas we need to pinpoint. Not so much one percenters but 10 percenters where we need to improve to make sure that we win games.

"That will take time. If you are looking for a quick fix or for some magician to come in with a wand then that ain't going to happen. We need to develop our young players and look after and keep pushing our senior players. There should be no easy way out into retirement. We have some great senior assets around - James Anderson for example who is incredibly professional. We need to keep him fresh and keep him hungry for the betterment of English cricket."

Achieving a blend between youth and experience will be a focus during the forthcoming visits of Sri Lanka and India. Kevin Pietersen's name will not darken England team sheets anymore, while the retirement of Graeme Swann leaves a significant hole in the side that was challenging near the top of all three formats little more than a year ago. Considering that players such as Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood have yet to be adequately replaced, whoever is appointed by the ECB will need to be a master builder.

Giles' CV as limited-overs coach lists an appearance in the Champions Trophy final alongside seven series defeats, though his hand was often diminished by England's rotation policy. A fresh group was utilised against West Indies and for the World T20 and Giles pointed to the performances of Michael Lumb, Alex Hales, Moeen Ali and Chris Jordan as reasons for optimism. While he was unable to explain how the most successful England team for a generation fell apart so catastrophically, Giles is eager to initiate the renaissance.

Thoughtful and measured in his responses, Giles does not seem to be as authoritarian as Flower appeared by the end of his time as team director. He said, however, that his time in charge during a period of success for Warwickshire meant he was tough enough for what will be a demanding job. "There's a time to be prescriptive, when teams are rebuilding, and there's a time for freedom. You have to strike a balance," he said

I'm not trying to please anyone or keep the guys happy, we've worked really hard through this trip, I think I've had the attention and commitment of the players and I think they've enjoyed it, barring the losing games. There's a good atmosphere in the camp, an extremely ego-less group of players we've got, which is healthy to work with.
Ashley Giles

"I'm not trying to please anyone or keep the guys happy, we've worked really hard through this trip, I think I've had the attention and commitment of the players and I think they've enjoyed it, barring the losing games. There's a good atmosphere in the camp, an extremely ego-less group of players we've got, which is healthy to work with. Others will make the decision on whether I'm the man to do the job."

An optional training session the day before England's game against South Africa offered a possible glimpse of the future, as Paul Collingwood faced Giles, Mushtaq Ahmed, David Saker and even Graham Thorpe in the nets while the players warmed up. Such levity may have been inspired by the previous night's stunning win over Sri Lanka but it seems whistling while you work will not be frowned upon. Later, the whole team returned to practise catching under lights, recognition that hard work and play are interdependent.

Asked about the central tenets of a Giles regime, he said: "Reigniting your pride in playing for your country, and what that means. What does that mean? Well, actually it should mean everything in how hard you work, in how you practice, in how you look after yourself off the field, that shows a commitment to what you do."

This chimes with the "team ethic" credo espoused by Paul Downton, the ECB's new managing director, when it was announced that Pietersen was to be dispensed with. Chris Tremlett last week became the latest member of England's Ashes touring party to murmur his support for Pietersen but Giles was only willing to look forward in his discussion of the dressing room.

"Some of the best players in the world have big egos and you need those game-changing players but I'm not going to get dragged into the same debate again. It's been a really good atmosphere and guys have been committed. Disciplinary-wise there have been no real issues - there's always a couple of rumblings. But it's been really good and the results could have been better but it's been a really good group to work with."

Beyond the challenges of England's home season, Giles said he believed England could be "genuine contenders" for the 2015 World Cup. Whether involving Giles or an incoming coach, discussions will take place with Alastair Cook, the Test and ODI captain, and Stuart Broad, who said he was uncertain about the T20 captaincy after defeat to South Africa ended their tournament. The question of Broad's long-term involvement in all three formats will also arise, as England seek to manage the wear and tear on one of their senior, and increasingly influential, players.

"Stu is a prime asset and we need to look after him," Giles said. "At the moment his knee is sore and whether it is rest or rehab he will need something done and we need him right. He has had a long winter but we will discuss that. The winter has opened up other options - Jordan has come to the fore as well and been really impressive and professional for his years."

For Giles, and players such as Jordan, James Taylor, Sam Robson and Scott Borthwick, to name a few, the coming months are rich with possibility. It is time to till the soil of English cricket again.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 1, 2014, 10:09 GMT

    @rednwhitearmy Last 14 years in England in test matches England are indeed ahead - by 8-6. Over the same period Australia is ahead at home 15-4. That's what English dominance looks like.

  • Wesley on April 1, 2014, 9:44 GMT

    As the Zaltz said in one of his pieces, it is the failure of the English talent scouting system to fail to pick up AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn. Jokes aside its not as doom and gloom as it is said to be.

    For the test team; Cook, Opener, Trott, Bell, Middle order, Keeper/Batsmen, Stokes, Broad, Anderson, Finn, Spinner. On balance it is not a bad team by any stretch. That despite the Australian and Asian fans having a dig at you.

  • Arup on April 1, 2014, 9:41 GMT

    Giles is NOT the man to lead the team forward in any format, let alone ODI and t20s, and Broad certainly is not the captain for t20s. England need to get out of their orthodox methods and thoughts and think like the top teams around the world.

    They need someone who will be rilling to take risks, and pick exciting players. There doesn't seem to be many shortlisted for the England job, so Giles may get it, but he does not deserve it. He lacks inspiration and I don't think he is experienced enough.

    England need to change their ODI and t20 captain, and Eoin Morgan is the man who should get it. Just like his batting, he has innovative ideas and with his experience of playing in t20 leagues around the world, he is a much more capable leader. Cook is the right man for the test team, but needs to stop being so defensive.

  • Soy on April 1, 2014, 5:21 GMT

    @RednWhiteArmy - also, wow, that's a hilarious XI.

    Let's see - so we have the stale/defensive/out of form Cook, an Aus, a Zim, Bell (respect), Ali (fair/fine), a SAF w/keeper who can't catch/bat, an NZ'er (good though, well pinched), a kid who can't bowl/bat, Broad (quality player, fine), Anderson (30+ avg sums him up accurately) and Onions (not top shelf but OK).

    It's your analysis that is of humour.

    It has two quicker bowlers (Stokes & Broad), then it has Jimmy "128km/h in Perth" Anderson and Onions, who is med-fast at best.

    Where is this LS you speak of? There is a kid who rolls the arm over in much the same way as a LS, but there is no LS in your proposed side. Not at all.

    Ali is a short-format containment option at best.

    Trott already showed he has no heart, so save him for Bang and Zim tests.

    The best of your side isn't even English, aside from Broad and Bell who, jokes aside, are quality.

    Who could you rest, and who could you replace them with to still beat us again?LOL

  • Soy on April 1, 2014, 5:09 GMT

    @RednWhiteArmy - keep dreaming mate, it is 2 wins in basically 8.5 years, and even then that's simply down to the delays. We thumped you 4-1 in 2001 (which isn't even 14 years ago, so nice maths there champ.

    And best of luck resting anyone from your shambolic side and getting a win, you can't even beat the Dutch with a full-strength unit. Your spinner chickened out mid-tour and Trott is so weak he lasted one test.

    Hilarious that you are beating on about the 2nd most recent Ashes mate, have you been able to wipe the 5-0 hiding in Australia from recent memory?

    You are one of the few English fans that still exist on these forums, but instead of speaking in measured and credible tones you rant and rave like a sore loser.

    Face it mate - your side is on a steep decline and, with no spinners or pace bowlers in sight (other than the highly overrated Anderson and Broad, who is actually legitimately good).

    You have a meek, defensive test captain and no keeper. Hilarious your post.


  • U on April 1, 2014, 2:38 GMT

    ego-less is not a good thing. for my team, SL, the winning formula in the only world cup we won was Ranathunge's massive ego. Same with Aussie invincibles of the 90/00s and WI of 70/80s. Even now, see how Kohli's ego brings so much more into his game. he goes out each time to bat with the firm belief he can score 200 runs - ego is a natural byproduct of that kinda self assurance and world cricket has always been richer due to such fantastic performers...

  • Dummy4 on March 31, 2014, 15:18 GMT

    Think Giles does need to get into the debate about ego. This supposed egoless side has really fallen from any grace it had left. Surely a sense of self pride, a sense wanting to do well for oneself and country help to define ego. If one feels humiliated this suggests an ego. Think Giles and his group of lethargic egoless players need to enter the real world. Clearly this whole ego/egoless debate has attempted to mask the stupidity of sending KP into the wilderness. The sacking of KP looks even more ridiculous now.

  • front on March 31, 2014, 14:56 GMT

    As an England fan, it amazes me that there are still people on these comments section, who now seem to think that because we beat the Aussies 3-0 in our last summer that that somehow augurs well for the future. Did they not watch what has happened to our side over the winter? We need to move away from the thinking that has plagued our game 'that were doin' all right as long as we're beating Australia'. That sort of thinking means we will only measure ourselves against one nation and as shown here, despite our abysmal record over the entire winter, we'll just re-arrange the goasl to make sure we affirm to our deluded selves, that we are doing all right.

    Real progress wont be made unless the ECB, fans and players start getting a realistic picture of the game. Something that wont happen until we learn to step out of Australia's shadow and the ignominy of this summers 5-0 defeat.

    How do we do that? We appoint an Australian to coach our national side.

  • Six on March 31, 2014, 12:59 GMT

    England would be better off with KP as player, coach and captain. That's the sad and laughable reality of it all.

  • Abdul Wahab on March 31, 2014, 12:51 GMT

    Hello all my dear friends

    now this cup is over its time for England to change squad to allow some strong young Talents. Best Squad from my site of view. For T20. Craig Kieswetter, Jos Buttler, Samit Patel or Ravi Bopara, Johnny bairstow, Alex Hales, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Luke Wright, Joe root, Scott borthwick, Eion Morgan, Tim bresnan, Stuart Meaker, Danny Briggs, Steven Davies. I have given this team this is the youngest and could be very good if they are Trained Do you all guys agree.

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