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Giles Appointment Is ECB All Over

Ashley Giles won’t be a bad Director of English Cricket. He’s competent. He’s a good bloke. He’s a safe pair of hands. But I doubt he’ll be an excellent appointment either. Words like ‘competent’ and ‘safe’ could easily be replaced by ‘conservative’ and ‘unimaginative’. However, I’d like to chose a completely different word to describe Ashley Giles’s appointment. And that word is ‘predictable’. Thoroughly predictable in fact.

As soon as I heard that Andrew Strauss was stepping down (we wish his family all the best at this incredibly difficult time), my immediate thought was that either Andy Flower or Ashely Giles would get the job. I even wrote so on this blog. And when Flower made it clear that he wasn’t interested in the role, it was always going to be Ashley’s. Why? Because the ECB trust him. He’s a good team man. He’ll never say anything remotely controversial. And he can be relied upon 100% not to rock the boat.

You could say, therefore, that I don’t have a problem with Giles’s appointment BUT I do have a problem with the ‘process’ (if one can even call it that) that has led to his appointment. It’s basically jobs for the boys yet again. He’s been appointed for more or less the same reasons that Ed Smith was made chairman of selectors: he’s cut from the right cloth and he’s a comfy fit for those who appointed him.

One only has to look at the shortlist of candidates to appreciate what the ECB’s criteria for this job were. There was Flower. There was Giles. And there was Mick Newell. All of them are what cynics might call ‘ECB insiders’. I don’t think ‘insiders’ is quite the right word but I can’t think of a better way to say ‘blokes the ECB knows and likes’.

The fact that Newell was apparently considered says everything: he was one third of the selection panel with a very mixed record that Andrew Strauss dissolved. I’m amazed that the shortlist didn’t also include Gus Fraser and James Whitaker. Or Peter Moores and Paul Downton for that matter. I wonder if Alastair Cook was sounded out for the role too?

My problem with the Giles appointment, therefore, is that it’s indicative of how the ECB works. It simply rotates through the same recycled candidates time and again. It gives the impression of a closed shop that doesn’t like to be challenged and is impervious to change.

Of course, one can empathise with the ECB’s thinking. They’re about to introduce The Hundred, which is about as popular with cricket fans as a fart in an elevator, so the last thing they want is fresh thinking that might challenge their absurd plans. And in that respect Giles is absolutely perfect. He’s never said anything remotely challenging in his long career as either a pundit or a coach. He’s vanilla personified. And he’s far too much of a team man (and probably far too polite and diplomatic) to tell Graves, Harrison and Co where to get off.

I appreciate that the ECB were never going to satisfy the dissidents with this appointment. The only option that would’ve pleased someone like me would’ve been a man prepared to abandon the Hundred madness, prioritise first class cricket, and bring the championship back from the fringes of the season. And the ECB were never going to appoint someone like that. They needed someone who doesn’t actually have any strong views.

No doubt we’ll see a lot of history rewritten about Giles in the coming days too. We’ll hear him described as an Ashes hero (which is kind of true), a brilliant county coach (which is arguable but not absurd), and a highly successful former coach of England’s ODI team (which isn’t true at all).

I’m already tired of hearing how Giles almost won England the Champions Trophy a few years back. We won three games and lost two in that tournament. We had good wins against South Africa and (I think) Australia. But we got absolutely thrashed by Sri Lanka and then threw away the final against India.

What’s more, the cricket Giles’s ODI teams played was unimaginative and old fashioned. His top three was Cook, Bell, and Trott. The plan was to score 200 in the first 40 overs, set a platform, and then slog our way to 270 with wickets in hand. It was a textbook approach that was already looking out of date. People simply forget all this because Giles’s successor, Peter Moores, was even more old school and awful.

And that’s why I can’t get on board with the Giles appointment. He’s never struck me as someone dynamic and insightful. His strengths are getting on with people, organising stuff, and not stuffing up. In many ways his career as a coach mirrored that of his playing career: going far despite limited abilities by working hard, being a good colleague, and making himself indispensable.

There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. I admire Giles in many ways. And I’m going to resist the temptation to joke that the ECB, which is clearly ready for the dustbin, has aptly chosen a man once described by Henry Blofeld as a ‘wheelie bin’.

My question, however, is this: is ‘safe’ and ‘ok’ good enough for English cricket? And is it good enough for English cricket at a critical time when the lunatics have taken over the asylum and a change of direction is desperately needed?

I think the answer to these questions is obvious. If there’s one word that Graves and Harrison need to hear more of it’s ‘no’. I fear what they’ll get from Ashely is ‘yes’ or even ‘yes sir’.

The ECB initially appointed Andrew Strauss because he was the archetypal ‘head boy’. He was the blazer-wearing, smooth talking, establishment favourite. The governors could’ve looked outside the school gates to find a true scholar to replace him. But instead they’ve promoted the milk monitor.

James Morgan

2018-12-15T14:42:58+00:00December 15th, 2018|Talking Points|24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. David Parry December 15, 2018 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Uninspiring appointment.I would have preferred to see someone from left field ready to kick arse .Maybe Collingwood or Pringle.Would it have been to late for Peter Willey who even Botham didn’t argue with and has all round knowledge having been an umpire too.

    • AndyB December 15, 2018 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      I have had no time for Collingwood ever since he demonstrated that he could not even be bothered to familiarise himself with those playing for him. As captain in Woakes first international he commented that he did not know Woakes could bat (after he hit the winning runs), despite Woakes already having FC centuries and an average in the high 30s. But Willey……..now that would be fun. I would welcome the competition to see whose arse he could fit the most bats up – Graves or Harrison.

  2. jennyah46 December 15, 2018 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    My feelings exactly James, but I have to say the #100 was always going to happen and it will do, no matter who was apppinted.

    In the words of Tennyson, ‘let the great world spin forever down the ringing grooves of change’. I don’t like it, along with the majority, but maybe we will just have to wait and see what happens.

    I will probably not even watch the bloody thing, but if it fails spectacularly maybe there will be some kind of resurgence and the county championship will come back to us in prime spectator periods.

    All we can do is to fight a rear guard action in words and you are doing a fine job. You have my support.

  3. Max Sawyer December 15, 2018 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    It is all so tediously predictable. Some players/coaches etc. are “in” with the ECB and others are not.

    I believe Botham upset Willey once (towel-flicking, I think) – he learned his lesson after that!

  4. Cricketcricketcricket December 15, 2018 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    I see the usual ECB media are all falling in behind the ECB yet again.. jobs for the boys and the media won’t dare question them too much as they need them

  5. Comte December 15, 2018 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    I’m sure that Giles is by no means the worst possible selection. He’s basically a decent sort of a guy and definitely safe. There was no way the ECB was going appoint someone who would not ‘fit in’. I understand that one of his tasks will be to take out some costs – i.e. people – but I can’t for one moment see him as a mad axeman. The fact is that all ECB appointments and relationships are based on cosiness and not rocking the boat. Journos need to be close to the ECB who get their so-called inside stories and the TV guys are the same.
    I’d like to see someone like George Dobell shake a few tail feathers but I don’t think he’d even get an interview.
    And let’s face it, it’s pretty much the same in any large organisation. Sometimes, with public companies a group of disgruntled shareholders manages to get their own man appointed as CEO but results can be unpredictable.
    In a way it’s shame that David Lloyd is too old and too daft to take on this sort of role because he has at least the guts to tell it like it is – when it suits him.

    • Simon H December 16, 2018 at 12:50 pm - Reply

      Have you heard Lloyd on the collapse in participation? He’s in complete denial about it – or indeed anything that implies a criticism of the ECB/Sky stitch-up of English cricket.

      • Cricketcricketcricket December 16, 2018 at 8:33 pm - Reply

        As is everyone in the media, ECB, county boards and county teams and ECB premier league sides who pay and poach success.

  6. Doug M December 15, 2018 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    The whole organisation is much like the EU, a closed shop, rich boys club that appoints its best mates to keep any “unruly” outsiders or “trouble makers” well away. Cricket will never move on with this lot. No real way of getting rid of them since the counties now cannot vote them out, silly mistake of judgement by them. Could send the boys round….

  7. Jackie Litherland December 15, 2018 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    Giles is not a great thinker but he’s a great follower of what appears to be the latest model whether it is the youth lobby or the Hundred. But you can’t blame him for top order of the ODIs. He inherited them from Flower who had broken the rules to get Cook in the side as captain. It was Flower who provoked KP into ODI retirement, Giles found that Flower kept overruling him. Intriguingly Giles sacked Bell from Warwickshire T20 side last year only to see Bell bounce back to new glory in T20 in 2018 so nothing predictable about that. What I would say is Giles and the ECB ought to embrace unpredictability because cricket thrives on it. The ECB is becoming too controlling and is becoming ruthlessly manipulative to achieve its aims. Sometimes that blows up in your face. Giles is regarded as a safe bet. Warwickshire sold its soul for the brand Birmingham Bears. Now the name looks absurd among the County T20 sides. Who predicted that?

  8. Marc Evans December 15, 2018 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    Name me the board of any large organisation who would appoint underlings that challenged them. They all want yes men so the status quo that gives them the power and influence they crave is preserved. This has been an unwritten law time out of mind. Insightful people challenging them imply they are not insightful. I doubt any of the people fulfilling your spec. would pass the first interview, or even want to bother applying as if they are insightful they would see how their hands would be tied. To me Giles is the perfect fit. I don’t rate him in any capacity, player or administrator, so he’ll fit the bill perfectly as a fall guy.

  9. AndyB December 15, 2018 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    I understand the analysis but hold some hope that Giles has moved on in his thinking and approach since his last England stint. He has done an excellent job at Warwickshire, not in the coaching aspect but in reshaping the side to compete. He has shown an appetite for tough decisions, getting rid of stalwarts like Westwood and Porterfield, and bringing through youngsters such as Brookes and Lamb whilst recruiting well, especially Stone and Rhodes. The result is a team which will be competitive in Div 1 next year assuming we do not lose all three seamers (Woakes, Brookes and Stone) to England. The test in his new role will be to carry this new steel into his dealings with the deadheads.

    And it could have been so much worse. We could have got Alec Stewart, with the resulting England teams based on connection to Surrey and a willingness to shaft one and all (ask Jack Richards).

    • Marc Evans December 16, 2018 at 12:52 am - Reply

      As one of the wealthiest clubs in the country with a high profile due to its test status, none of which is due to Giles, we should be able to attract young talent pretty much whoever is in charge. I have always felt Warwickshire is an old school tie club where you’ll get on if your face fits and you don’t rock the boat.
      It may seem I am being harsh on a man who as you say, has been successful in his latest stint with the county, but I still see him as a somewhat wishy-washy establishment figure, who tends to be unduly influenced by any new initiative the game throws up, a follower rather than a leader.

    • Doug M December 16, 2018 at 1:33 pm - Reply

      Excuse the language but the last paragraph is bollocks.

      • AndyB December 16, 2018 at 2:22 pm - Reply

        If you are referring to the Jack Richards case specifically (rather than my general assertion) I agree that Mickey was the disciple of Machiavelli behind Richard’s dismissal, but Alec was complicit as it was obvious that it was done to his advantage (he got the gloves). If you can think of another case where a recent test player in his prime is sacked despite being better than any alternative please name them. I was in Surrey at the time and heard all the stories. Having moved away and then returned 10 years later I was surprised that Surrey CCC politics remained as murky as ever. Happily, it seems to have moved on at last.

  10. Julie December 15, 2018 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    May I say both you and ECB may get a big surprise. We shall just have to wait and see.

  11. Simon H December 16, 2018 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    Will the next news’ story about Loughborough be:

    a) Ashley Giles has swept out those there who have singularly failed to produce quality new England players despite resources that would drive every other country except India to distraction. Starting at the top.
    b) Jofra Archer has been sent there and now bowls at 78 mph – when he hasn’t got a back injury?

    • Cricketcricketcricket December 16, 2018 at 2:57 pm - Reply

      Trouble is, what coach can replace those currently in the englsnd, county or laughborough set up ?? The whole batch of coaches who go through the god awful ECB system are essentially poor.

      What you need to find are those the current system has put off and get them in and completely clear out all those who ahce anything to do with coaching at anything but bottom club level

  12. Doug M December 16, 2018 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    My comment refers to Andy B,s post, not Marc.

  13. Mark December 16, 2018 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    Stewart seems to be doing a decent job at Surrey so why not him? No questiining his passion for the countries interests and a team full of Surrey players is not the worst thing at the moment.

    James i think you once said atherton could be a politician after you met the sky sports guys…? Would his diplomacy and leadership skills not be very handy in this kind of role?

    I would take nasser too but would miss both from the commentary box.

  14. AB December 17, 2018 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    What exactly is the point of a Director of Cricket anyway? What is his role, and how is it distinct from the roles of Ed Smith and Tom Harrison and all the other extremely well remunerated but utterly pointless and unnecessary ex-cricketers who litter the corridors of the ECB?

    • oreston December 18, 2018 at 7:44 am - Reply

      I think this question answers itself. The “point” is literally to provide a well-remunerated sinecure for “some utterly pointless and unnecessary ex-cricketer” (no, I’m not having a go at Ashley Giles personally) who happens to be the right sort of chap and who can be relied upon to be a useful occasional mouthpiece for the ECB… and who can potentially be a fall guy for Harrison and Graves in the event that it all goes tits up.

  15. Simon H December 18, 2018 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Severe case of “send for the plumbers” over the Cook knighthood.

    Wasn’t it Alec Bedser whose was supposed to have said when Len Hutton was knighted, “the last bowler they knighted was Francis Drake”? I wonder what Jimmy will have to say? He’s not usually short of a few apposite words…

    • James Morgan December 18, 2018 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      Just written about this! New article now up. I think it’s a crazy decision to knight Cook. Oh so predictable though.

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