Ashley Fraser Giles
March 19, 1973, Chertsey, Surrey
Gilo, Skinny, Splash
Right hand Bat
Slow Left arm Orthodox
George Abbott County Secondary School, Guildford
The Ashley Giles story is an endearing tale of one man's triumph over the doubters. With a high-trotting approach to the crease climaxing in an energetic flurry of limbs, Giles did not have the most fluent spin-bowling action - possibly because he began life as a fast bowler - and was once derided as a "wheely-bin", much to his own annoyance. But he was accurate, found some turn and even more bounce, and he established himself as a dependable spinner for England in five seasons at the turn of the century.
Giles was forced into retirement by injury in 2007 but quickly became a coach, first at Warwickshire and then with the England limited-overs sides. He missed out on becoming England's full-time coach in 2014 and came back to county cricket with Lancashire.
Throughout his playing career, Giles had to justify his selection at almost every moment of uncertainty, and in early 2004 he came close to retirement after a modest tour of the Caribbean. Instead, he returned a matchwinning nine-wicket haul at Lord's later that summer, and imbued with new confidence, he continued to chip in with vital performances - with ball and increasingly, with bat - culminating in his career-best 59 at The Oval, an innings which helped seal England's first Ashes victory for 18 years.
Until his late flowering, Giles's most memorable moments had all come on his three tours of the subcontinent. The rip-snorting delivery that pitched outside leg and fizzed past Inzamam-ul-Haq's dangling bat on to the stumps at Karachi was the best piece of bowling by an England spinner since Phil Tufnell teased the Aussies at The Oval in 1997, and paved the way for a famous victory. It was on that tour of Pakistan in 2000-01 that Giles became England's No. 1 slow bowler.
The following winter, and nursing a persistent Achilles injury, he hobbled back and forth from the middle to the physio's ice bucket, while returning Test-best figures of 5 for 67 at Ahmedabad. And, two years later, after remodelling his action and enduring a dismal tour to Bangladesh, he burst back to form in Sri Lanka, with 18 wickets in the series and a magnificent match-saving stand in the first Test at Galle.
It was just the latest of many impressive batting performances from a man who had worked hard at his game to become a pivotal player in England's lower order, and against New Zealand at Trent Bridge in 2004 his stand with Graham Thorpe was instrumental in England's triumph. One month later at Lord's, he produced a wickedly ripping delivery to bowl Brian Lara - his 100th wicket in Tests, weeks after being virtually written off by the press. In the field he had a strong arm and was agile for a man of his size, but a persistent hip injury ruled him out of England contention throughout 2006.
Though his skills as a utility player continued to appeal to his coach, Duncan Fletcher, the strides made by his replacement, Monty Panesar, put a return to the fold in jeopardy. Giles kept Panesar out of the team for the first two Tests of the 2006-07 Ashes, but with such a lack of cricket the folly of the selection was soon exposed. He took just two wickets before Panesar returned at Perth with a five-wicket haul. Giles' tour was brought to a premature end when he flew home to be with his ill wife.
Any chance of a return to England colours vanished when a recurrence of his hip problem forced him to announce his retirement towards the end of the 2007 season but within weeks he had been appointed as Warwickshire's director of cricket. Following a shakeup with the England selection panel, he was named a part-time selector alongside James Whitaker, as David Graveney's 11-year reign as chief selector came to an end and, most significantly, in late 2012 was named England's limited-overs coach as Andy Flower's workload was lightened. He led England on a modest World T20 campaign in Bangladesh in 2014 and then missed out the full-time role to Peter Moores.
After a brief period out of the game, he was reappointed as director of cricket by Warwickshire at the end of the 2016 season. The club was subsequently relegated in 2017, though the emergence of some young player and some improved form in T20 cricket - Birmingham reached the final of the domestic competition - provided some hope of better times to come.
Batting & Fielding
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List A Matches
|England XI vs West Aust||4||0/33||09-Dec-2006||Perth||OTHER|
|England vs Australia||27* & 0||1/103 & 1/46||01-Dec-2006||Adelaide||Test # 1819|
|England vs Australia||24 & 23||1/91 & 0/22||23-Nov-2006||Brisbane||Test # 1817|
|England XI vs NSW||9||2/46 & 1/32||12-Nov-2006||Sydney||OTHER|
|England XI vs PM's XI||13||1/53||10-Nov-2006||Canberra||OTHER|