It would be wrong to say England have a problem going into Thursday's third Test against the West Indies. Following thumping victories in Jamaica and Trinidad and four consecutive wins against West Indian representative sides, the confidence of Michael Vaughan's squad could hardly be higher.
But not everything has quite gone according to plan. Before arriving in the Caribbean Ashley Giles was looked on as a crucial member of England's bowling attack. After a successful tour of Sri Lanka - in which he took 18 wickets in three Test matches - the form of the left-arm spinner was considered vital to England's success.
Giles was supposed to be the bowler who gave control while the seamers were getting carted around. Instead, England's pacemen have been a revelation and Giles has been left scratching his head. The 31-year-old took two wickets in the first Test at Sabina Park but they have been his only successes. He has conceded over five runs an over.
The success of the seamers has not helped Giles. Their control of the West Indian batsmen has limited his opportunities to bowl and his appearances at the crease have been seen by the home team's batsmen as the time to play a few shots.
"They have looked to play positively against me," said Giles. "[Chris] Gayle showed that in the last Test. To come down the wicket on the first morning and take on long-on is risky but it was a good shot and it showed their intentions," he added. "But I have also given them too many balls to hit. I haven't bowled very well. By my own standards I didn't bowl enough balls in the right areas when I was called to do so."
The approach and the style of the West Indian batsmen has been the opposite of those in Sri Lanka. On the turning pitches of the sub-continent Giles was considered a major threat and the home side's batsmen spent as much time playing him with their pads as their bats.
That five of the West Indies' top seven are left-handed should help Giles because the batsmen have to contend with the foot-holes caused by the bowlers on their follow through. Giles puts his lack of form down to the amount of bowling he has done.
"I thought I'd bowl a lot more overs," he said. "In Sri Lanka I was bowling 40 overs a game and it was fantastic. It is amazing how quickly you can slip out of a rhythm when you don't bowl and I'm never going to moan about being tired after going through this. That is the only difference as far as I can see. In two weeks I bowled only 20 overs in five or six spells and it did not give me a chance to settle down.
"I just have to start better and make sure I'm more on the ball when I first come on. Then I can settle down and start my variations. But if they are coming at you, you have a chance. You can look a complete idiot some days but on others you get wickets."
The West Indies have named Tony Howard as their new cricket manager following the resignation of Ricky Skerritt last week. Howard, who played one Test for the West Indies in 1972, takes over with immediate effect. The 57-year-old has managedthe Barbados team for the past decade. Under his management Barbados have won four regional first-class titles and have been runners up twice in the past six seasons.
"I am well aware this is not going to be an easy task," Howard said. "But I am positive that with the cooperation and assistance of the players, other managers, and ancillary staff and with the full backing of the board, this will be the beginning of a process that will see the turnaround in the fortunes of the West Indies team."
- More about:
- Ashley Giles
- Atlantic Ocean
- Caribbean Islands (west Indies)
- Michael Vaughan
- Sea And Ocean
- Sri Lanka
- Trinidad And Tobago