Ashley Giles: England are much-improved despite India loss
England limited-overs coach Ashley Giles says his ODI side will be more proficient in New Zealand after losing the India series
England’s one-day touring party went to India as a bunch of fledgling international players but will leave a far more proficient team, according to Ashley Giles.
The limited-overs coach saw an opportunity to redefine his young squad in the absence of Jonathan Trott, Graeme Swann and James Anderson.
Giles knows that a 3-2 defeat against the might of India in his first series certainly does not represent a disaster, five months from the ICC Champions Trophy.
“We’ve seen a lot of different guys and learnt a lot of different things even in games we’ve lost,” said Giles, before adding: “If we weren’t learning I’d be worried.
“I guess when I came here that you couldn’t have got a much tougher start. In reflection if I’d been offered 3-2 maybe I would have taken it.”
The list of absent stars ensured each player had to assume new responsibilities within the team. Stuart Broad was missing too after snow thwarted his scheduled arrival midway through the series.
The top four, including the “phenomenal” ODI debutant Joe Root, were instructed to consolidate a platform from which the middle order could expand.
And in turn Craig Kieswetter, Samit Patel and Jos Buttler – for the last two ODIs – would launch a ten-over assault at the end of the innings.
Steven Finn, Tim Bresnan and the series leading wicket taker James Tredwell admirably shouldered the brunt of the bowling without Anderson and Swann.
Of course, not all could cope with the added expectation. Kieswetter was dropped at Ranchi after a run of 34 games, while Jade Dernbach was replaced with his radar continuing to frustrate.
Patel, also, flattered to deceive often falling short when England needed him most.
Despite losing their number one ranking to India during the series, England have high hopes of winning the Champions Trophy in June – a competition they are hosting.
At home, England have played four pacemen and the one spinner, Swann, since the introduction of balls at both ends last year.
It is policy England are unlikely to change with the battery of fast bowlers at their disposal.
But Giles, intriguingly, refuses to rule out the possibility of Tredwell bowling in tandem with Swann.
“It’s not a non-starter,” he said, adding: “I do think it is worth talking about because they are two of our best bowlers in one-day international cricket.
“But with the conditions for the Champions Trophy, we will have to see. I can’t see a place where they both won’t be in the squad.”
Bresnan returns to the UK instead of flying to New Zealand with the rest of the squad on Tuesday, due to a re-occurrence of his troublesome elbow, presenting an opportunity for Chris Woakes to press his claims for the fourth seamer spot in (THE) three-match ODI series next month.
Even an international recall for 31-year-old Rikki Clarke, selected for Lions trip to Australia, means he could lead a late charge for the position depending on Bresnan’s fitness and Woakes’ own success.
“We wouldn’t pick Rikki (for the Lions) unless the door was open,” said Giles. “It is open to all these guys.
“The important thing is the balance of the team. So if we need someone to fill the spot, whether in the Champions Trophy or the World Cup in 2015 there are a certain number of guys in the country who can fill that spot. It might be Rikki Clarke.”
The team’s balance will now revert to what England are accustomed to at home, with Patel most likely to give way to Woakes for New Zealand.
Yet, even though the Champions Trophy and the World Cup in two years time represent a markedly different proposition to India’s spin friendly batting tracks, the trip will have given increasing mental fortitude to Giles’ young charges.
The responsibility, yes, but also having the ability to think on your feet has been an asset that England grasped by the series’ conclusion.