Ashley Giles’s appointment as England’s new director of cricket comes at an exciting time.
Changes of management in sport often come at a time of crisis, but England are in a stable position and looking forward to a World Cup and Ashes series on home soil this summer.
While the circumstances of Andrew Strauss’s departure are sad, I think Giles is a good fit for the role and I’m sure the switchover will go smoothly.
The two men are friends, which is helpful because Strauss will only be a phone call away if needed for advice, although I don’t think Giles will need much.
Having been England’s limited-overs coach between 2012 and 2014 he already knows the system. He understands how the England and Wales Cricket Board operates, so there shouldn’t be any shocks, unlike if they had gone for a total outsider.
Also as a former coach and player he knows what those under him are dealing with, which is important when targeting trophies. England are favourites for both the World Cup and Ashes, so there will be pressure to cope with.
At 45 I also think Giles is the right sort of age because it means he’s fully accustomed to the modern game and how England want to play it. His addition is in keeping with the style which has brought the side success recently on the pitch.
That success shows Strauss deserves a lot of credit. He had issues to face – notably with Kevin Pietersen and Ben Stokes – and dealt with them to leave behind an organisation set up well for his successor. Giles should therefore be able to pick up where Strauss left off.
One of his main jobs will be to consider who to replace Trevor Bayliss as coach with when he leaves his post in September after four years in the job.
Giles has said he isn’t averse to splitting the coaches between formats, and having worked alongside Andy Flower himself he knows the pros and cons.
I think it really depends on the person because coaching in all three formats is a huge undertaking which means a shelf life is inevitable.
If you can find two coaches who work well together it can avoid burnout, provided they are on the same wavelength so there’s no disruption for players.
Another consideration is bringing through talent and here I think it’s a case of if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
Giles will assess things like the Lions, the North v South series and Loughborough set-up and perhaps implement changes.
But he needs to be careful. England’s success in the past year shows things are going in the right direction, with young players developing.
From my experience the Lions works well. It’s something to be strived towards for younger players and remains a prestigious step towards the first team.
The example of Australia should be heeded. Years ago their more concentrated domestic competition was praised for breeding tough players, but now they’re struggling and doubts are creeping in.
Overall Giles has a lot on his plate, but he has all the tools to be a success.