Yet no performance in Giles' career will have given him as much satisfaction as yesterday's. Few spinners have been able to say that they have outbowled the great Shane Warne on a pitch taking spin, but this is just what Giles achieved when he took three crucial wickets during a fabulous spell of bowling.
The second day of the third Ashes Test was always going to be a pivotal one and Giles, with considerable help from the excellent Simon Jones, ensured that England won it. It may be a tad early to say that the seven Australia wickets England took on a sunny afternoon in South Manchester decided the fate of the Ashes, but there is a genuine feeling that something special is about to take place here. Australia finished such a position, but bowling Australia out for less than 245 would leave Vaughan with a huge decision to make. By asking Australia to bat again the England captain would run the risk of giving Warne last use of a turning pitch, and chasing 150 could be a difficult task. Yet should he choose to bat again, and the forecasted bad weather arrives, England could run out of time.
Vaughan will be tempted to bat again but it would be a shame to see England allow a negative thought to dominate their decision-making when their cricket has been so positive and incisive.
It may be a tad early to say that the six Australia wickets England took after tea will decide the fate of the Ashes, but there is a genuine feeling that something special is about to take place.
Australia arrived in England as the No 1 team in the world. It is a tag they richly deserve after a decade of domination. We knew they were good but the question was: how good were England?
After the first Test at Lord's the answer was "not very". But, following the dramatic two-run victory at Edgbaston, and after the first two days here, this view has changed to "a lot better than we thought".
England's vibrant and aggressive cricket in the last two Test matches has made Australia look vulnerable, and it is they who now need to produce something special to get back into this Test, and indeed the series.
Vaughan's magnificent 166 on Thursday helped England grab the initiative and post a competitive total of 444, but the question was whether the bowlers were capable of putting Australia's star-studded batting line-up under pressure on a good pitch.
Each of England's pacemen had had a go at Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden before Vaughan tossed the ball to Giles at the end of the 15th over but none of them had troubled the Australian openers. There were a couple of close shouts for lbw, and a bit of playing and missing, but Australia were coasting along on 58 for 0.
The Aussies' desire to get after England's premier spinner is well known but he struck with his fifth ball. Langer did not look comfortable playing the ball out of the foot-holes created by Australia's fast bowlers on the first day and in an attempt to nullify the threat he came down the wicket. Langer, however, had not accounted for the agility of Ian Bell at short leg, and the fielder put out his right hand and held on to a wonderful catch.
Simon Jones produced a brute of a delivery to dismiss Ricky Ponting, Australia's captain, with the first ball after tea. A score of 58 for 0 was suddenly 73 for 2. And it became 82 for 3 when Giles trapped Hayden on the crease in the 24th over.
Damien Martyn and Simon Katich attempted to calm the Australian nerves but both fell in three overs. Katich left a Flintoff delivery which plucked his off-stump out of the ground and Martyn was bowled by a Warne-like ball from Giles which pitched outside leg-stump and clipped the top of off. By now the crowd could hardly believe what they were witnessing.
Flintoff could have had Adam Gilchrist out twice in one over but Bell and Kevin Pietersen grassed catches they should have held. Yet on this occasion neither drop proved costly as Jones shaved the outside edge of Gilchrist's bat with the first ball of a new spell.
This brought Michael Clarke to the crease. Clarke has spent most of the last two days in his hotel bed after injuring a disc in his back on Thursday morning but he was rushed from central Manchester to Old Trafford to help his team's cause. Clarke batted with a runner - Hayden - but he failed to test his stamina when he chipped a well disguised slower ball from Jones to mid-off.
Few would have predicted such joyful scenes after a disappointing morning. England lost their last five wickets for the addition of just 103 runs and many felt they had let Australia back in the game.
Bell was adjudged to have top-edged a hook at Brett Lee through to Gilchrist in the fourth over of the day. Geraint Jones's place in the England team continues to be debated but the selectors appear happy to tolerate the odd drop as long as he scores runs. And he did. Jones and Flintoff added 87 runs for the seventh wicket before Flintoff attempted to hoist Warne into the stands and chipped a catch to Langer at deep mid-on.
Flintoff's aggressive batting helped change the course of the Edgbaston Test, and he is a much better player when he is looking to be positive. At times it can go wrong but one would rather see him caught on the boundary than at silly point and it would therefore be hypocritical to criticise him for getting caught in this manner.
Geraint Jones lost his off stump in the last over before lunch and Warne wasted little time mopping up the tail after the interval. Yet this only allowed England to get after the Australians and give their supporters real belief that their side can regain the Ashes.
Old Trafford scoreboard
Second day; England won toss
ENGLAND - First Innings
(Overnight: 341 for 5)
A Flintoff c Langer b Warne 46
93 min, 67 balls, 7 fours
ÝG O Jones b Gillespie 42
87 min, 51 balls, 6 fours
A F Giles c Hayden b Warne 0
11 min, 6 balls
S J Harmison not out 10
13 min, 11 balls, 1 four
S P Jones b Warne 0
7 min, 4 balls
Extras (b4 lb5 w3 nb15) 27
Total (502 min, 113.2 overs) 444
Fall: 1-26 (Strauss) 2-163 (Trescothick) 3-290 (Vaughan) 4-333 (Pietersen) 5-341 (Hoggard) 6-346 (Bell) 7-433 (Flintoff) 8-434 (G Jones) 9-438 (Giles) 10-444 (S Jones).
Bowling: McGrath 25-6-86-0 (nb6) (8-0-29-0, 5-1-32-0, 5-2-11-0, 7-3-14-0); Lee 27-6-100-4 (nb5 w2) (5-2-6-1, 5-1-19-0, 5-2-13-0, 2-0-14-0, 10-1- 48-3); Gillespie 19-2-114-1 (nb2 w1) (11-2-47-0, 4-0-42-0, 4-0-25-1); Warne 33.2-5-99-4 (nb2) (27-5-75-1, 6.2-0-24-3); Katich 9-1-36-1 (4-0-13-0, 3-0-16-1, 2-1-7-0).
Progress: First day: 50: 74 min, 15.1 overs. Lunch: 93-1 (Trescothick 35, Vaughan 41) 25 overs. 100: 127 min, 26.4 overs. 150: 177 min, 37.4 overs. Tea: 195-2 (Vaughan 93, Bell 14) 54 overs. 200: 242 min, 54.5 overs. 250: 298 min, 69 overs. 300: 340 min, 78.1 overs. New ball taken after 86 overs at 331-3. Close: 341-5 (Bell 59) 89 overs. Second day: 350: 407 min, 93 overs. Rain stopped play 11.29-11.49am 376-6 (Flintoff 17, G Jones 15) 102.3 overs. 400: 460 min, 105 overs. Lunch: 434-8 (Giles 0) 110.2 overs. Innings closed: 1.23pm.
Trescothick's 50: 134 min, 90 balls, 7 fours. Vaughan's 50: 99 min, 64 balls, 7 fours. 100: 206 min, 163 balls, 12 fours. 150: 262 min, 202 balls, 19 fours, 1 six. Bell's 50: 171 min, 135 balls, 6 fours.
AUSTRALIA - First Innings
J L Langer c Bell b Giles 31
75 min, 50 balls, 4 fours
M L Hayden lbw b Giles 34
112 min, 71 balls, 5 fours,
*R T Ponting c Bell b S Jones 7
20 min, 12 balls, 1 four
D R Martyn b Giles 20
70 min, 41 balls, 2 fours
S M Katich b Flintoff 17
39 min, 28 balls, 2 fours
ÝA C Gilchrist c G Jones b S Jones 30
75 min, 49 balls, 4 fours
S K Warne not out 45
97 min, 61 balls, 6 fours, 1 six
M J Clarke c Flintoff b S Jones 7
17 min, 18 balls
J N Gillespie not out 4
17 min, 10 balls
Extras (b4 lb5 w2 nb4) 15
Total (for 7, 266 min, 56 overs) 210
Fall: 1-58 (Langer) 2-73 (Ponting) 3-82 (Hayden) 4-115 (Katich) 5-129 (Martyn) 6-182 (Gilchrist) 7-197 (Clarke).
To bat: B Lee, G D McGrath.
Bowling: Harmison 6-0-37-0 (w1) (3-0-15-0, 3-0-22-0); Hoggard 6-2-22-0 (one spell); Flintoff 12-0-46-1 (nb3) (5-0-20-0, 6-0-23-1, 1-0-3-0); S Jones 11-3-30-3 (nb1 w1) (1-1-0-0, 7-2-18-1, 3-0-12-2); Giles 21-3-66-3 (one spell).
Progress: Second day: 50: 61 min, 12.5 overs. Tea: 73-1 (Hayden 33, Ponting 7) 20 overs. 100: 132 min, 28.1 overs. 150: 199 min, 42.1 overs. 200: 256 min, 53.4 overs.
Umpires: B F Bowden (NZ) and S A Bucknor (WI).
TV replay umpire: N J Llong.
Match referee: R S Madugalle.Reuse content