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Ashley Giles has apologised for England's heavy Ashes defeat but warned against mass sackings as a solution, saying that "systemic change" is needed.
Speaking to reporters in Sydney ahead of the fourth Test, Giles, the managing director of England men's cricket, said "everything will be on the table" following an ECB investigation into the ongoing Ashes campaign after Australia sealed an unassailable 3-0 lead to retain the urn inside 12 days.
"Being here now in this position, I absolutely feel the responsibility of losing this Ashes series," Giles said. "Absolutely, we all do, and we can only apologise.
"I know there will be a lot of emotion, a lot of anger about how we've lost it but we know it's not an easy place to come. We can't kid ourselves. Look, in 34 years we've come here and won once. We'll review the tour and there will be a full review, everything will be on the table. We'll have to send a report through Tom [Harrison, ECB chief executive] to the board."
England won only four of the 15 Tests they played in 2021 with two draws and nine defeats. In Australia, they lost the first Test by nine wickets, the second by 275 runs and the third by an innings before lunch on the third day. That means England have now lost 18 of their last 23 Tests in Australia, including 12 of the last 13 with pressure mounting on Chris Silverwood, the head coach, and captain Joe Root as well as the likes of Giles and Harrison.
"In terms of my position, that's not for me to decide," Giles said. "But you can clearly tell by the way I'm talking that I'm thinking very much about the future and how we take this team forward.
"If it was a failing of this leadership, then fine, I'd take that, I'm at peace with accountability. But I'm not the first and I won't be the last unless we make some change... Unless we look at more systemic change and a collective responsibility and collective solutions, we can make whatever changes we want.
"You can change me, change the head coach, change the captain, but we're only setting up future leaders for failure. That's all we're doing. We're only pushing it down the road."
Giles cited a range of factors in England's disappointing performances, including a packed playing schedule which he described as "horrendous" and the restrictions and sacrifices that touring during a global pandemic demand. A three-Test tour to the Caribbean in March will do little to relieve his concerns over scheduling and travelling under Covid-related protocols, but it is part of England's obligation to repay West Indies for agreeing to play in England at the height of the pandemic in 2020.
"The last two years have probably been the most challenging of my career," Giles said. "Performance has almost been the last thing we've had to think about. And that's a really sad situation. But have we got the game on? Have we tried to keep the players fit and well? Yes, we've tried. And the wellbeing issue is a massive one."
Giles also blamed the failure of the domestic game in England to prepare players for international level as contributing to their current struggles.
"Are we creating [domestic] conditions that will allow us to better prepare our cricketers for playing in the conditions out here? I'm not sure we are at the moment," Giles said. "What we play, when we play, on what [pitches] we play - that's a collective responsibility. It's up to us as ECB but also a conversation to have with the counties."
He also noted the gulf between England, the fourth-ranked Test nation and those above them - India, New Zealand and Australia.
"At the moment do we think we are a better side than we are? We are sort of at our level. Fourth in the world is probably where we are," Giles said. "We've beaten the sides below us but, in these conditions, we're not beating the sides above us.
"What's important is that we don't try to paper over the cracks. We could easily go to West Indies and win, then win this summer. We could do 'everything's alright, rah, rah, rah' but I think we still need to be truly focused on finding a way we can compete in Australia and in India."