Ashley Giles does not need to be fired after the Ashes debacle



SYDNEY – Ashley Giles was in a fighting mood when he spoke to the assembled media at SCG on the eve of the Fourth Ashes Test.

He was defensive around his own position as England’s cricket director, who is now threatened after a year in which he has prioritized rest and rotation at the expense of test series in India and at home in New Zealand last year.

Key players were allowed to miss games in each. The goal was to secure England had as fresh and competitive squad as possible heading into this Ash series. The only thing we’ve had is an outdated, exhausted team that makes the same old mistakes and poses one of the least competitive challenges ever seen in an Ashes series.

Giles rightly mentions Covid as a significant mitigating factor. Many of these players have spent the best part of two years in bubbles.

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Still, he refused to take any responsibility for a form that has left England’s players on the brink of burnout. “That’s not my job,” was the reply. Well, if not, why not? You can not mention your concern for mental well-being and the need for rest and rotation on the one hand, while doing nothing to alleviate the problem at source.

It should be the job of the English cricket director to challenge authority when you see a schedule that threatens not only the integrity of England cricket but also the mental well – being of the players.

Giles also mentioned the need for systemic change to narrow the gap between performance at the county and test levels – and said it would be of no use to fire him or coach Chris Silverwood without it. Yet he has no idea what the systemic change might look like.

There was also a defense for his decision to scrap the national selection role and give Silverwood total control last year. “We are talking about going back to a system that is quite outdated and 150 years old,” he said.

Not surprisingly, the 48-year-old relinquished all responsibility for England’s performance in Australia. And while insisting he did not throw anyone “under the bus”, he said at the same time that Root and Silverwood should take the ultimate responsibility for results and insinuated that the packed schedule was the responsibility of Tom Harrison, England & Wales Cricket Boards. CEO, who is Giles’ boss.

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As for England’s ridiculously short warm-up period on this tour that set the team up for failure in Australia? “We had two matches lined up here wiped out by the weather,” he said. “Who would have thought that? Could we have had longer preparation given what these guys have been through? I do not think so.”

Giles suggested that Cricket Australia’s refusal to accept that the start of the series was further delayed or to move the starting point of the trip to a state that did not require a 14-day quarantine on arrival was also beyond his control. Either would have given England more time to get ready for the series. None of them were apparently fought for.

So we have a director of cricket who has absolved himself of any responsibility for this car accident on a tour, has been unable to formulate yet another change that can help England in the future, and who admits that he has not the power to change a lot anyway. At this point, we should not ask ourselves whether Giles should be fired, but whether there is any meaning at all in the existence of his job?

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