Ashley Giles' new England role crucial to avoid Andy Flower burn out, says Bob Willis
Ashley Giles' new role is essential so that England get the most out of Andy Flower, says Bob Willis.
Last Updated: 28/11/12 3:48pm
These days the head coach gets involved in so many branches of Team England (many of which don't get a lot of publicity) that it can only be a sensible move to relinquish him of some responsibility.
Coaching the national side is a much more professional job than it used to be and as things stand England are obviously keen to keep Flower for as long as possible; if he continues to do as much as he currently does, and the overseas tours and international Twenty20 fixtures continue to multiply as they are, it's hard to see how his tenure wouldn't be shorter than hoped for.
Ashley has been part and parcel of the selection process for a number of years now and has won his spurs at Warwickshire in both forms of the game, so it's a natural step up for him.
He is an excellent man-manager and is meticulous in his organisation, so there's no doubt that Warwickshire's loss is England's gain.
I'm sure he can't wait to get into a fresh challenge and slot into this new-look structure, starting in India in January and thereafter in New Zealand. At 39, he's the right age for the job, is well-qualified to do it and he's very highly thought of in the game to boot.
Yes, he'll have his work cut out - particularly when England play away from home in the 50-over game - but the good news on that front is that the ICC Champions Trophy will be staged in this country next year, while in 2014 English domestic cricket will re-embrace 50-over cricket. Both of those factors should help Giles raise standards overall, which is crucial if England are to stay as World No 1.
More by accident than design, Alastair Cook has found himself back in the one-day side not only as an opener but as skipper and he's grown into an impressive player who has shown that he is capable of adapting to the rigours of the format.
I've always believed that the best cricketers are the best cricketers for 50-over and Test match cricket; there aren't too many one-day specialists who can force themselves into the side, so there's no doubt in my mind that someone like Matt Prior should be able to play 50-over cricket for England.
If Prior's and England's Test fortunes are rosy, then that should be reflected in the 50-over format.
For now Cook's challenge is to build on that impressive Test victory in Mumbai.
His mentor, Graham Gooch, has always said that 90 per cent of Test cricket is played in the head and there's no doubt that England's skipper is a very cool, calm character.
When he's at the crease he has an impressive ability to forget what's gone: if he plays and misses or mis-times a shot he just puts it behind him and gets on with the job, rarely missing out on a bad ball.
India couldn't bowl at him in the end in Mumbai; he may not be as flamboyant as Kevin Pietersen (and he never will be) but he's every bit as unflappable.
After the first Test defeat in Ahmedabad, he said 'this is a strong, resilient side - we'll bounce back from this defeat'.
There were plenty of us out there who thought 'Really? In Mumbai? On Sachin Tendulkar's home patch and against those Indian spinners?'
But he's really got the lads on his side; they all back him and answered those who wrote them off by not only winning, but by winning in real style.
Cook is still learning the job as captain and our commentators were very critical of his field placing first thing on the fourth and final day when he didn't have a silly point in, but on the whole he's taken to it extremely well.
He's inherited a conservative style of management from Strauss and Flower - they tend to go on the defensive first, which was underlined by their selection in Ahmedabad.
But I think that, as he grows into the job - and this win will have done enormous things for his confidence - he'll become more confident about making subtle changes in the field.
All of that bodes well not just for the remainder of this tour but well into the future, starting with all of the challenges that will present themselves next year.
With Flower now able to focus more fully on Test matches, the signs are very encouraging.