Ashley Giles feels 'thicker skin' will help in his new role
Former England spinner confident that he has learnt from his many experiences and coaches
Wednesday 09 January 2013
Ashley Giles had it easy today as England's new one-day coach faced the press for the first time but he admitted he needs to develop a "thicker skin" because "honeymoon periods don't last that long". The one enquiry that caused Giles's smile to harden into a frown was to do with how easily offended he had been as a player. "I knew that question was coming," he grimaced. "Hopefully I am wiser now I have got older."
At 39, just two years into his full-time coaching career, Giles is a relative whippersnapper in the rarefied air of international coaching – his opposite number, Duncan Fletcher, is 64. "Some of the experiences were quite good levellers," he added. "I hope I have a thicker skin but I know there will be good and bad times."
One of those experiences was being described by this newspaper's former cricket writer Henry Blofeld as "a wheelie bin". The former left-arm spinner failed to see the funny side and his reputation as a man who took criticism to heart was cemented.
"When I was a player I always gave you guys something to write about, rightly or wrongly," said Giles, adding that in his new role, "I hope to continue to do that in a positive way".
So has he turned that gossamer dermis into rhinoceros hide, a move advocated by Roy Hodgson on his appointment as England football manager last year?
"I hope," Giles said, searching for the right response. "Well, I probably learned from my experiences. Some of the things I said, some of the times I went through I probably learned from, I would not go there again."
For now, where Giles is suits him just fine. And that is going head to head with Fletcher, India's former England coach who stuck by him through the good times and the bad as an international player. "Duncan was influential in my career and one of the reasons I probably went into coaching," he admitted. "That doesn't mean I'm going to give him the series."
As well as Fletcher, Giles was generous in his praise of those coaches who have shaped his own style of management. "I was lucky to play under Bob Woolmer, he was a great coach, so was Fletch. Phil Neale [England's current tour manager] I learnt a lot from, a great organiser, John Inverarity as well.
"I was lucky, and you pick bits from all of them. Fletch through the England years was certainly influential. Duncan's technical nous is fantastic, as Bob's was."
However, keen to stress that "I will be my own man", Giles's praise came with an important caveat. "As well as good stuff you learn bad stuff as well, so you take the bits you like. I am sure people will say the same about me, they will not like the way I operate all the time."
One man who will have to get used to the way he operates is Kevin Pietersen, after Giles confirmed that Pietersen has signed a full contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board through until 30 September. "He put pen to paper yesterday [Tuesday]," Giles revealed. "It is great to have him. He is a world-class player and I'm looking forward to working with him on a different level."
That new level begins in earnest against India. It is almost a year since Pietersen last played one-day international cricket. He produced back-to-back centuries against Pakistan then, and if he carries on that form in Rajkot tomorrow, Giles will be able to keep that new thick skin under wraps for just a little longer.
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