Ashley Giles revealed his blueprint for the England coaching job yesterday. In making plain his desire to take over from Andy Flower on a permanent basis, he outlined a unifying vision for the team without Kevin Pietersen.
“We need to create a new culture,” Giles said, reflecting on England’s one-day international defeat by West Indies in the first match under his temporary stewardship. “We have had a very successful period and have probably tipped over that peak. We have been on the way down for a little while.
“We need to catch that now and, with Alastair Cook leading, get some of those simple disciplines back in place. For me a lot of it is the simple things, but it is also about being very proud to play for England. It is a massive thing. Every time you go out and play it should be very special and you should prepare as such.”
Giles, the favourite to succeed Flower, who resigned after the disastrous tour of Australia, is in charge during the present tour of the Caribbean and then for the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh which immediately follows. England intend to interview for the post early in April and make an announcement later in the month.
Giles, who supported the decision to sack Pietersen, said: “I have done my time now as a coach and believe I can coach this side, but it will take a bit of time to regroup and get the right things in place.
“We need the right culture, the right people, the right environment and get those right processes in place, and if we do that I think we can have some positive signs pretty quickly. But I also believe it won’t happen in six weeks.”
Giles said strong discipline needed to be instituted to take the team forward and make England the best side in the world again.
Had the new managing director of England cricket heard Giles he could not fail to have been impressed. It is possible that Paul Downton might have been in earshot round the corner in the Antiguan hotel, more likely that he will be privy to something similar early next month at the job interviews for the coach’s job.
Giles insists that the next six weeks, when he is in temporary charge here and in Bangladesh, do not amount to an audition or an interview – he will simply be doing his current job in that time.
He knew there was much to do before seeing England twice put themselves in positions of overwhelming strength on Friday – when West Indies were 43 for 4 and when England were 180 for 2 in pursuit of 270 – but still lose by 15 runs. Much more of that and it would be difficult for Downton to appoint Giles no matter how much he likes and respects him. Results have to count, starting in the second match today.
Giles listed the simple things that he plans to restore. Calling it from the bottom up, he listed how hard the team worked, how they were in the dressing room, how they worked together, how they dressed and their timekeeping. He was not traducing the immediate past, but Giles clearly senses that something had gone badly awry with a successful team after – or perhaps even before – they won the Ashes at home last summer.
Indeed, he has the benefit of personal experience, having been part of the side that won the Ashes in 2005 in one of the most historic of all series and then imploded pretty soon afterwards.
“When teams are successful –maybe we did it at the end of 2005 – you don’t necessarily consciously slacken, but player power becomes that much more relevant and we need to get back to basics,” Giles said. “These simple things create environment, create culture. I’m not saying they have been all off but we need to institute very strong disciplines going forward, and with that have the right people in the environment which is going to take us the right way.”
Somehow he has to try to contrive a win a few matches here and there. Giles’s influence was evident yesterday in the call-up to the squad of Ian Bell as cover for the injured Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales. Bell did not make even the initial longlist of 30 names for the World Twenty20 (which has now been cut to just 15) but Giles clearly sees his class. If either Hales or Morgan fails to recover for Bangladesh, Bell will make the trip.
It is evident that Bell, “a top bloke, a world-class batsman” rates somewhat higher on the scale of a good man to have around than Pietersen. Giles was waiting for the Pietersen question. “I don’t want to go into too much detail, I don’t think I can, but I fully support the decision,” he said of the controversial player’s sacking from the squad. “It’s not about one guy paying for what’s happened in the winter but I think this team does need to move on now, we can’t keep going back. Kev was a very good servant, a fantastic player, but that’s that, it’s gone.”
He had one final plea. “This really isn’t about me; the bosses will make their judgement as to whether I’m the right man for the job, you guys will make your judgements and millions of twitter users and whoever in between also will. But I believe I can do this job, I’d be very proud to do it as well.” It is his to lose.