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Ashley Giles promises ‘full review’ into England’s comprehensive Ashes defeat - ‘We can’t kid ourselves’

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  • Ashley Giles
    English Test and County cricketer (born 1973)

Ashley Giles, England’s Managing Director of men’s cricket, has apologised for his team’s performance in this winter’s Ashes, and promised a “full review” into the defeat.

Giles, who returned to Australia this week having spent Christmas at home, believes fatigue linked to the pandemic has played a big part in England’s defeat, but also says there are systemic issues that are preventing his team succeeding down under.

While he would not be drawn on specific changes he would make until the series ends, he said: "Across the game I have some pretty clear ideas how I want to take this team forward and improve our red ball cricket”.

After the tour a full report will be compiled into the defeat, which will be sent to CEO Tom Harrison and the ECB Board for review.

Giles said the quantity of cricket had been “horrendous” for England, who he believes have done well to play as much as they have.

“In 34 years we’ve come here and won once [in 2010/11],” he said. “Being here now, in this position I absolutely feel the responsibility of losing this Ashes series. Absolutely, we all do and we can only apologise, and 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.

“There’s been a lot more gone on in the last two years than just performance. So while my responsibility is the performance of the team, I feel very much it’s also been keeping the game on, getting the team on a plane, making sure the India series happens, the South Africa situation, the Pakistan situation, discrimination in sport.

“So it’s been an extraordinary year and I think we can look at the cricket-specific stuff but we also need to look at the other stuff, particularly having 18 scheduled Test matches between January [2020] and mid-January [2021]. It’s a hell of a lot of cricket – over that period it was as three times as much as Australia, 50 per cent more than India.

“It’s a huge amount of cricket we’re playing and in a time of Covid it’s been pretty horrendous at times.

“And what these guys have tried to deliver I think is extraordinary. And it’s not always on the field. Don’t print that headline that it’s extraordinary what I think we’ve done. What they’ve delivered in terms of the cricket, getting it on, has been extraordinary.

“Our performances on the field have not always been great and we’ve got to work on that. From a cricket-specific point of view I do think there are things we can do. We have to look internally at ourselves and that will be part of the review. What do we do when these players enter our dressing-room? How do we improve them? What are we doing to help them?”

Giles, who held leadership positions with Warwickshire and Lancashire, says he does not “blame” the county game, but believes work needs to be done to bridge the gap between the domestic and international game.

“Our players come from the county game and we have some very good players and we have some extraordinarily good white-ball players as we’ve shown,” he said. “But I think we’ve got to work collectively and collaboratively on how we lessen that gap between what we do and what the very best teams in the world do.”

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

In 2021, England players were rested from Tests against New Zealand – which were late, financially-driven additions to the schedule – because they had been at the IPL. Giles would not be drawn on how this relationship would look in the future, with the IPL expansion to 10 teams and final mega-auction looming.

“I see involvement in the IPL but to stop it creeping into anymore of the [English] season,” he said. “The season is busy enough with seven Tests next year. It is an incredibly difficult and busy period coming up.

“We don’t want to miss any Test cricket particularly. That is the aim but we have to manage their workloads as a calendar year as a whole.

“It is tricky for everyone. These conditions are exceptional. It is very difficult to know because at the moment we are living in an environment that is 40-50 percent tougher mentally on these guys. Until we get back to normal then we will really know what is best.”

Giles said that he has little responsibility for England’s schedule, which he says lies at Chief Executive level.

“We’ve got to look at the schedule in the long run,” he says. “It is a problem and we’ve got to find a balance. We need to balance the amount of cricket with the quality of cricket. And making sure that we look after our people. That’s the coaches, players and everyone. Coming back to that wellbeing piece, let’s focus on that, not rest and rotation. It’s ridiculous to think that these guys can play every single game.”

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