Ashley Giles 'a very strong candidate' to succeed Andy Flower as England team director, says ECB chief


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The Independent Online

Ashley Giles is a "very strong candidate" to replace Andy Flower as England's team director, according to Giles Clarke, the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Giles was appointed as England coach for one-day internationals and Twenty20 matches 14 months ago. That decision was taken to take some of the strain off Flower and allow him more time with his family.

"He's a very strong candidate," Clarke said yesterday. "Ashley is a very valued employee of the ECB. We all have the highest regard for him both as a man and as a coach.

"He is a man of great integrity and great capabilities. He played a lot of cricket for England and is very respected in the game." Clarke also said he fully expected Alastair Cook to remain as captain of the Test and one-day side this summer.

The new managing director of England cricket, Paul Downton, has the task of finding a replacement for Flower, who stepped down as team director on Friday. England are not due to play another Test match until they host Sri Lanka in a two-match series in June.

In the interim, Giles will have his work cut out staking his claim to oversee the rebuilding of the national side following the disastrous tour of Australia, which included a 5-0 whitewash in the Ashes series and defeats in both ODI and T20 series.

England take part in the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh in March, a tournament they won in 2010 under Flower – it was England's first ever victory in an ICC event. First they will travel to the Caribbean this month to contest three ODIs and three T20 matches with West Indies, who are the current Twenty20 champions.

Giles, 40, is unlikely to be able to remain in charge of the limited-overs teams only. Flower made a statement when he stood down stressing that his successor should be in charge across all three formats. "That was his fundamental decision," Clarke said. "Once that decision had been reached that he didn't want to be coach of all three, it was clear what his next decision would be."

Meanwhile the pressure increased on Giles yesterday with the news that Scotland had not only qualified for next year's World Cup but would be in England's group. Defeat to the Scots would be even more unacceptable than an Ashes series whitewash.