Ashley Giles, managing director of England men’s cricket, has apologised for the manner of the team’s Ashes defeat but warned a mass clearout at the top will not solve deeper rooted issues.
Giles says the England and Wales Cricket Board will conduct a thorough inquest into the failings of the trip after the final two Tests in Sydney and Hobart but, having surrendered the urn at the earliest opportunity over 12 largely depressing days of cricket, he was quick to say sorry to fans.
“Being here now in this position, I absolutely feel the responsibility of losing this Ashes series,” he said, during a round of interviews with travelling journalists and BBC Test Match Special at the SCG.
“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 (Australia) 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, chief executive) to the board and I’m sure a couple of board members will be given the responsibility to lead on that.”
Further scrutiny is guaranteed, internally and externally, after a year of diminishing returns in the red-ball format and a growing consensus that the dominance of limited-overs cricket has gone too far.
One win in the last 12 Tests, and four in 15 all year, tells its own sorry story of incremental decline.
Some would like to see Giles removed from his position, others prefer to take aim at head coach Chris Silverwood or captain Joe Root, while the man above all three in the hierarchy, Harrison, is also under pressure.
Giles is clearly eager to remain in post and believes changes above and beyond revamping a handful of personnel will be required to put England’s Test side back on course.
England get down to business in training ahead of the fourth #Ashes Test in Sydney 🏃
— ICC (@ICC) January 2, 2022
“In terms of my position, that’s not for me to decide. 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,” he said.
“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.
“That’s what we’re aiming for but 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.
“Four out of 15 (in 2021) is not good. In the 90s that was accepted as normal for England leaderships and they got away with it. We set our standards much higher than that.”
For now, though, Giles believes England’s long-stated ambition to become the best side in the world is unrealistic.
In what is an unusually forthright assessment for one of the ECB’s top decision-makers, he suggested the team’s current travails may simply be a fair reflection of their quality.
“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,” he 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 (in March) 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.”