Ashley Giles has plenty to keep him busy in new role as managing director of England Men's cricket
By Sam Drury
Last Updated: 08/01/19 12:12pm
As Ashley Giles prepares to face the media for the first time since being appointed managing director of England Men's cricket, we look at some of the more pressing issues he faces in his new role…
Regain the Ashes
Having played his part in England's most famous win over Australia for a generation in 2005, Giles knows just how much of an impact an Ashes triumph can have. Victory over the old enemy this summer may not result in a bus parade around London, but it would certainly provide a feel-good factor around English cricket and allow him to go quietly about his work for a while.
However, defeat to an Australia side in disarray since the ball-tampering scandal and Giles would face immediate scrutiny as the inevitable demands for 'a root-and-branch' investigation into the failings of English cricket are made.
With just a few months until the first Test at Edgbaston and plans firmly in place, Giles' influence on the series itself is likely to be minimal but if he can ensure that things run as smoothly as possible for Joe Root's team around the games, the more chance there is of things going smoothly for him.
Replicate ODI success in T20Is
Before the Ashes gets underway there is the small matter of a World Cup, with England favourites to win it on home soil. The groundwork for that has been put in over the past four years so, the success or failure of Eoin Morgan's side will have had little to do with Giles - although, again, the goodwill a World Cup success would bring would be no bad thing for him.
Where the new director will be crucial though is in determining how England approach their white-ball cricket in the next few years. The 2023 World Cup will take place in India but before then, two World T20 tournaments are scheduled to take place - in Australia in 2020 and India the following year.
England reached the final of the 2016 tournament but since then the focus in white-ball cricket has been predominantly on the 50-over format in preparation for this summer's World Cup. In that time England have risen to No 1 in the ODI rankings.
They are a respectable third in the T20 standings and there is no need for the wholesale changes that followed the 50-over World Cup in 2015 but there is likely to be a shift in priorities. Rather than the five ODIs and a solitary T20 that has become the norm in recent times, Giles must decide whether three of each, as we saw against India last summer, is more beneficial.
Certainly a player like Root, who was instrumental in the run to the 2016 final but has played precious little T20 in the three years since, would appreciate the chance to hone his skills in the shortest format with two global tournaments on the horizon.
With Trevor Bayliss having announced that he will leave his post as England head coach at the conclusion of the Ashes in September, Giles has at least one major appointment to make this year. Before he decides who he wants to lead England forward though, he must decide whether it is one person he is after or two persons. In short, should England have one coach for the Test side and another for the white-ball teams?
"I personally think this is going to be Ashley's first main decision that he's going to have to make," ECB chief executive Tom Harrison told Sky Sports in December.
Giles could not be better qualified to talk about the pros and cons of split coaches having taken charge of the ODI and T20 sides between 2012 and 2014, with Andy Flower running the Test outfit, on the only previous occasion England have employed such a strategy.
Five years on, England have separate Test and white-ball captains and certainly the latter seem to have profited from it with Morgan able to focus solely on the ODI and T20I series. Similarly, the opportunity for Root to rid himself of the pressure of captaincy and drop back into the ranks in the shorter forms of the game also has its benefits.
The current international schedule is hectic in the extreme but with England top of the ODI rankings, second in Tests and third in T20s, Bayliss has shown it is possible to oversee all three formats and have success. Whether it is the way to as England strive to become No 1 across the board though, is for Giles to decide.
The ECB's revelation last spring that their new T20 competition, due to launch in 2020, was not actually going to be a T20 competition at all but rather a 100-ball tournament came as something of a surprise. Yes, the reaction to 'The Hundred' was decidedly mixed from fans and players alike.
That did not stop them pressing ahead with the plan though and, after a number of trials at the end of last summer, the players involved were positive about the proposed fourth format, that aims to bring a new audience to cricket.
Giles will be among those tasked with making a success of the tournament and ensuring it strikes the right balance between providing a fresh, family-friendly and simplified version of the game that will attract new supporters while still appealing to traditional cricket fans and winning over the sceptics.
The ECB release confirming Giles' appointment stated that he is responsible for the "long-term strategy of the England men's cricket teams and the performance pathways leading into the international teams". Making a success of the new competition and potentially inspiring the next generation of players and fans would be a very good start.
Watch the ICC Cricket World Cup, the Ashes and the Women's Ashes live on Sky Sports Cricket in 2019! Before then watch every ball of England's Test and ODI series against Windies, starting with the first Test on Wednesday, January 23.