Giles wants England to be at their best for the Champions Trophy
England limited overs coach Ashley Giles has vowed to become more “ruthless” after the national team’s less than impressive 2-1 victories in both the Twenty20 and ODI series against New Zealand.
Giles acknowledges that he has some tough decisions to make ahead of the Champions Trophy in June, especially with star batsman Kevin Pietersen out of action for the next six to eight weeks with a knee injury.
Giles also noted that England’s batting stocks had become full to the brim and it was going to be a tough choice on which batsman out of Pietersen, Jonathan Trott, Joe Root, Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan will be left out of the Champions Trophy squad.
“I have to be more ruthless as a coach,” Giles said. “You are not being nasty, but you’ve got to make strong decisions. When you drop someone, you always look them in the eye. Sometimes it will fall to the captain, sometimes I might do it, but all you can do is to be honest. If your performance isn’t good enough, I’m going to tell you. I don’t expect you to like it, but it doesn’t change the conviction behind the decision. Players are selected to perform and ultimately we have to pick the side that we think will win games.
“The most difficult decisions are when you leave players out and you never do that lightly. If you don’t step in, and everyone else can see you should be doing it, you lose respect quite quickly.
“With the Champions Trophy being in English conditions we have the opportunity to do really well. I’ll go away and look very closely at Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, the other teams in our group. But we don’t want to get too cute with the game. The formula with which we play is pretty simple but homework on the opposition, like bowling very straight to Ross Taylor, is important.”
Giles will also be speaking with the county teams to ensure that all of the squad members get enough practice before the tournament.
In the case of Jos Buttler, who has now become England’s wicketkeeper in the limited overs format, Giles noted that he will speak with Somerset to allow Buttler the chance to keep full-time instead of his best friend and long-time team-mate Craig Kieswetter.
“I will be speaking to Somerset about both players,” Giles said. “Obviously we have a responsibility to Craig, who I’m sure wants to get back playing for England but Jos is keeping for us now.
“Craig wasn’t left out of the squad, it was by mutual consent really. The opportunity had gone for him. With Jos taking the gloves and Jonny Bairstow being next in line it made sense on both sides for Craig to go home and get his game in order.
“I hope to speak to most of the directors of cricket at counties about the players involved this winter and how we think they can improve. I can’t tell Somerset what to do, but it’s pretty obvious that Jos needs to keep wicket now. It is a very different situation for Somerset, though, because they have a duty to help Craig get back into international cricket. I don’t envy their position and Jos, Somerset and Craig will have to discuss it.”
Another issue Giles may tend to is the fact that Trott opens the batting for Warwickshire, while Bell comes in at number three.
Since Giles was Warwickshire’s director of cricket before taking up the limited overs coach position, he should have no problem in reversing Bell and Trott’s positions so that it accurately reflects the national team’s batting line-up.
The other major task that Giles has to take care of now is meeting with ODI captain Alastair Cook and start planning out a strategy to help England win the Champions Trophy on home soil.
“Cooky is an exceptional bloke,” Giles said. “I hope we don’t agree on everything because it would be dull but we’re singing from a similar hymn sheet on most stuff.
“We had three hours when we talked about a number of things going forward. By the time he gets home a lot of time will have passed so it was important we knocked around ideas and I’ll take them home to work on. It was a really good chat.
“Sometimes you do fall into one-day games on the back of a major Test series. It suddenly catches up with you and it’s a case of ‘let’s get the white balls out and get on with it.’ But now it’s my job to make sure we have a very clean switch between forms. The idea is that I will be looking at opponents and venues for the Champions Trophy very closely now.”