It could be said that Alastair Cook will captain Dad's army when England take on India in their one-day series next week. But don't panic! Dad is the name a young Cook christened Ashley Giles when he first encountered England's new limited-overs coach in Pakistan in 2005.
That was when the 20-year-old Cook was summoned from the beaches of Antigua, where he was on tour with the A team, and thrown in at the deep end, ahead of the first Test in Lahore as cover for the injured Michael Vaughan.
Cook did not make his full debut until the following year but remembers warmly the help that Giles gave him on his first taste of the England dressing room. "He was a senior citizen of the side when I first went to Pakistan," Cook said today, before the squad flew out to India. "He was really good to me. He was kind of called 'the Dad' in one way. He was that gel in the middle of the team, always looking after players.
"He had a very strong relationship with Duncan Fletcher [the then coach] as well and he was the bridge between some of the players and him. I assume he will carry on that relationship with players as a coach."
Giles gave up his job as Warwickshire director of cricket in November to become England one-day and Twenty20 head coach in order to reduce the workload of the team director, Andy Flower.
As an England selector, as well as an Ashes winning spin bowler, the 39-year-old Giles knows the national set-up well. And his transformation into a highly regarded coach, winning the County Championship with Warwickshire last season, made him a natural choice to take over the England role. Cook is certainly looking forward to working with someone who comes so highly recommended as England look to build on their Test series win in India before Christmas.
"He has a fantastic coaching record," said England's captain. "Everyone who has worked with him speaks very highly of him. I am really looking forward to our coach and captain relationship growing. We all know how strong that needs to be. I am looking forward to moving on again with England with a different coach."
Cook believes the job-share arrangement will fast become the norm for international coaches – Russell Domingo has been appointed as South Africa's Twenty20 coach. "I think more and more sides will do it because of the huge volume of cricket," Cook said. "You can look at it another way – we have added another coach with great expertise, which is brilliant for us."
Giles will also be able to bring something else to the party, something Cook already has – the ability to get the best out of Kevin Pietersen. One of Cook's first moves on taking over the captaincy from Andrew Strauss was to lead the peace talks with England's best, but most troublesome, batsman which led to his reintegration into the Test side and the rediscovery of his most devastating form in the last series.
According to Michael Vaughan, who captained an England team containing both Giles and Pietersen: "I have not known a player get on better with KP [than Giles]. That will help in the next couple of years. He knows how to communicate to Kevin."
England will need Pietersen at his run-scoring best if they are to find any success in their five-match one-day series, which begins in Rajkot a week tomorrow. They have beaten the 50-over world champions just once in their last 18 one-day internationals in India dating back to 2002, losing the last three away series 5-1, 5-0 and 5-0.
Cook was captain for the 2011 whitewash, but no one would expect him to be anything but positive this time. "This is another huge challenge for us as a side," he said. "We lost there 5-0 last time so it will be a really good measure of us as a side. I think we have a squad capable of doing something very special."Reuse content