India v England, 1st ODI, Rajkot

Giles focus on long-term goals

With the sternest of tests to begin his international coaching career, Ashley Giles needs to use the series to develop his side for the Champions Trophy and World Cup

George Dobell

January 10, 2013

Comments: 16 | Text size: A | A

Jos Buttler chipped in with a crucial 15 off seven balls, India v England, 2nd Twenty20 international, Mumbai, December 22, 2012
Jonny Bairstow's absence may give Jos Buttler an opportunity © BCCI
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There may be moments over the next couple of weeks when England's new limited-overs coach, Ashley Giles, could be forgiven for wondering what he has let himself in for.

As a coterie of well-known coaches try to fill the cosy position Giles has just vacated at Edgbaston, he has opted for the road less-travelled with England. It will not be easy: starting an international coaching career with an ODI series in India is akin to starting a wrestling career with a bout against a Minotaur.

It was a brave decision to take the England role. Giles had a job for life at Warwickshire. He remains hugely popular at the club and deeply respected. Yet he has given that up to test himself at a higher level and in a world where he will once more be subjected to tired jibes about wheelie bins and his record as a player. It is hard to imagine a tougher start to his new career.

England's ODI record in India is so awful that the squeamish should look away now: England have been whitewashed 5-0 in both their last two ODI series in India. They have not won any of their last 13 ODIs against India in India. They have not won an ODI against India in India since 2006 - when the likes of Vikram Solanki and Ian Blackwell were in the team - and they have only ever won one series in India, way back in 1984.

To make matters worse for Giles, England have lost both warm-up games and he is without three first choice players: Jonathan Trott, Graeme Swann and James Anderson. All are enjoying a period of rest ahead of a busy year. It is hard to be wildly optimistic about England retaining their No. 1 ODI ranking by the end of the month.

But whatever the challenges of the next few weeks, Giles needs to keep his eye on longer-term goals. England's primary aim in one-day cricket for 2013 is to win the Champions Trophy, in England, in June and, further into the future, to win the World Cup, in Australia and New Zealand, in 2015.

They are relatively well equipped to do it, too, with the changes in playing regulations - a new ball from each end, two bouncers per over and an obligatory extra fielder inside the circle - adding to home advantage and the consequent familiarity in conditions that should benefit them.

Just as importantly, England are close to finding a settled team. Already, nearly six months ahead of the Champions Trophy, it is possible to predict nine of England's likely XI in the first game with, in approximate batting order, Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Steven Finn and James Anderson all but certain to figure. With role definition such an important part of limited-overs cricket, that stability provides England with an excellent opportunity to familiarise themselves with their jobs over the next few months. June may well present their best ever chance of winning that elusive global ODI competition.

 
 
"If we lose the series and each player has moved on five per cent through the experience then we're doing our jobs." Ashley Giles
 

It also means that the greatest long-term significance of the ODI series against India may be in ascertaining the final couple of positions and potential replacements for the Champions Trophy team. While conditions in India bear little comparison to those in England or Australia and New Zealand, Giles and co. will at least be able to take a closer look at some contenders in the heat of battle.

The most obvious issues that require resolving are the identity of the wicketkeeper and the identity of the fifth bowler. Craig Kieswetter's stock has fallen of late, though a glance at the statistics suggests that may be unfair. Since he was moved down the order at the start of the year, Kieswetter has actually averaged 33.83 with the bat - a decent effort for a middle-order player, though a figure boosted by a third of his innings being not out - and shown an ability to both rebuild the innings and accelerate when appropriate. His keeping, while raw, is improving and remains secure as either of his two main rivals: Jos Buttler or Jonny Bairstow, whose absence may allow Buttler an opportunity to demonstrate that his explosive batting should earn him the position. He has already displaced his Somerset teammate, Kieswetter, as England's T20 wicketkeeper, though many would argue that Matt Prior remains a wasted talent in the limited-overs formats.

Tim Bresnan is another who finds himself struggling, in the longer-term, to retain his place in the face of a challenge from Chris Woakes, Stuart Meaker, Jade Dernbach or a second spinner such as Samit Patel or James Tredwell. While Bresnan's Test form in 2012 was modest - averaging 17.14 with the bat and 55.43 with the ball - his ODI form stood up better. He conceded just under a run-a-ball in 2012 and claimed 13 wickets at a cost of 26.61 a piece. While such figures may not grab too many headlines, none of his rivals currently offer undeniable claims that they could do better.

Whatever the slings and arrows of the next few weeks, Giles will cope. As a player, he experienced extremes of success and failure and, as Warwickshire coach, he learned to maintain his composure whatever the result. He endured some awful ones, too, including losses to Ireland and Scotland, and some batting collapses so dramatic that it appeared his team, so strong on paper, was actually made of the stuff. He has also coped equably with serious family illness. By comparison, the ups and downs of a cricket team really do not amount to all that much.

"We're here to develop and find out more about these guys and if at the end of it we lose the series and each player has moved on five per cent through the experience then we're doing our jobs," Giles said. "Let's not beat around the bush, it is a challenge but one the guys should be looking forward to."

There may well be an element of phony war about the series. With a young India side desperate to avenge the perceived humiliation of the Test series loss against England and the ODI series loss against Pakistan, the importance of every result may be magnified far beyond its true relevance. Whatever happens over the five ODIs, though, if England are able to identify the last couple of places in their ODI side, they can consider the trip a success.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (January 11, 2013, 1:32 GMT)

England: Speedily wake up to the young "Woakes". And, please don't drop the young spinner Danny like a ton of "Briggs", even without trying, of all the places in India.. The youngsters need some rope to play... fail/succeed/fail ... and develop into world class players over a decent time-span!

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (January 11, 2013, 0:34 GMT)

@A_Vacant_Slip: What are you doing here ? This article isn't about Pakistani cricket or its team.

Posted by FRRR on (January 10, 2013, 23:49 GMT)

England is gonna lose this series. Lets face it, they do not have a bowling attack like Pakistan.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (January 10, 2013, 23:23 GMT)

@SurlyCynic on (January 10 2013, 19:29 PM GMT), as clarke501 points out, how good a player you are does not correlate directly to how good a coach you are. Regardless, Giles is well known to have been someone who enjoyed more success than his talent seemed to warrant. Wouldn't you want a coach who was capable of getting the absolute best out of players the way Giles did for himself? Also, he has been a quite successful coach with Warwickshire, so he knows as much about coaching an ODI team as anyone would before they've actually done it.

Posted by shillingsworth on (January 10, 2013, 22:46 GMT)

@Surly Cynic - No, the difference is that you know nothing about coaching a professional cricket team and no one would therefore dream of paying you to do so. The fact that you judge a coach solely on the basis of the team's performance in a couple of warm up games emphasises the point.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (January 10, 2013, 21:11 GMT)

@clarke501: The difference is I'm not being paid to coach the England ODI team, which has been dismal on tour so far. If I was the coach your question would be valid.

Posted by shillingsworth on (January 10, 2013, 20:31 GMT)

@SurlyCynic - The best players do not necessarily make the best players. Let's face it, what do you know about coaching an ODI team?

Posted by A_Vacant_Slip on (January 10, 2013, 20:13 GMT)

@davidpk on (January 10 2013, 19:44 PM GMT) agreed. When England left India Test with series victory 2-1 - they got what they came for. Test series win is most precious thing - especially away series Test series win. It surely has been long time since India win any Test series away from their home. In a few days nobody will remember any result of any little ODI series - but they WILL remember result of Test series (England won test series 2-1 in India 2012) - just as many of the India fan remind us result of England India series in 2007. Funny thing isn't it memory?

Posted by bumsonseats on (January 10, 2013, 19:44 GMT)

cricketmann they are currently top of the icc odi table so if the results are poor against all test playing nations are as you say,would we not be at the bottom of the table ?.we beat indian 5 - 0 pakistan 4 - 0 wi 2 - 0 aus 4 - 0 drew sa 2 - 2 and lost to india 0 - 5 so would like to see how you arrive at that thinking. the result against india in india was with a lesser strength squad inc KP. the indian team, who one would have thought may pick a squad with rest in mind or lesser players to gain experience, but then i guess when a team have got to win, so in some way they think its their way of getting something back for a defeat in the tests.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (January 10, 2013, 19:29 GMT)

Let's face it, Giles was a non-spinning spinner and a mediocre nightwatchman as a batsman. What does he know about coaching an ODI team?

Posted by hhillbumper on (January 10, 2013, 17:57 GMT)

Maybe Giles should stop picking Saffers as can't see any reason why Dernbach gets picked. He has a great variation in that his slower ball gets whacked for 6 or 4.

Why is Woakes not playing? as for Kieswetter he must have some compromising pictures because why else pick him. We are not short of good agrresive wicket keeper batsmen and the desire to keep picking him is just lunacy

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 16:07 GMT)

A wild speculation "Flowered" into my mind! A "conspiracy theory" (lol). May be, someone who is rested , but would like to be there for the Ashes and the next 50-50 World Cup (and his supporters in power) may not mind Ashley's debut as a national coach failing?

Posted by jango_moh on (January 10, 2013, 14:40 GMT)

eng actually have a chance here, ind are not in the best frame of mind, this is a young indian team and will take time to settle!!! so i say its the best chance to beat us....

Posted by mukesh_LOVE.cricket on (January 10, 2013, 14:38 GMT)

Even taking into account the rather poor performance of our team in all formats , i would still stay this will be an easy walkover for India , England is simply clueless in ODIs played in India and i don't feel it is going to be any different this time unless of course KP plays and decides to come up with something extraordinary !

Posted by CricketMaan on (January 10, 2013, 14:11 GMT)

While England rightly have rested their TEST cricketers for Ashes glory, and are looking forward to Champions Trophy and WC 2015 (they have most pathetic results among all Test playing nations in ODIs), to keep saying that this series is only to check a couple of players in pressure situations and not concerned about win loss seems like hiding the obvious. I still wont be surprised if this is just a those smart 'tatics' that these days teams use prior to a game. England still looks good on paper and with the form, fitness and mindset Indians are in, they can really facny there first series win in many years. For India, its pathetic to keep playing Dhoni when he needs to rest and recover for Aus Tests. Also to not test a Dhawan or Vijay isnt any way to build a team for 2015. I see 3-2 though not sure who will win.

Posted by CricketMaan on (January 10, 2013, 14:04 GMT)

Why isnt Alex Hales not in the one day set up. He has proved on all conditions that he can hit the ball a long way. Yes he is more of T20, but on what basis is Keiswetter still in the XI. Even Johnny has not done anything significant apart from that blitz against India and 90 at Lords. Hales must atleast be given a chance to get into the first 15

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