‘Everything on the table’ in Ashes review


Venue: Sydney Date: Tuesday, 4 January Time: 23:30 GMT
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

“Everything will be on the table” when England review their Ashes defeat in Australia, says managing director Ashley Giles.

England’s miserable tour has led to debate over the futures of coach Chris Silverwood and captain Joe Root as well as on the state of the national game.

Giles said “systemic change” is needed rather than replacing individuals.

“Unless we look at more systemic change, a collective responsibility, and collective solutions, we can make whatever changes you want,” the former England spinner, whose position has also been debated, told BBC Sport.

“You can change me, we can change the head coach and change the captain, but we’re only setting up future leaders for failure. That’s all we do. It’s only pushing it down the road.”

England surrendered the Ashes when being bowled out for 68 in the third Test last week, their ninth defeat in 12 Tests.

In April, Giles removed Ed Smith from the role as national selector and added selection to the remit of Silverwood, head coach since 2019.

That move has been questioned in the aftermath of England Ashes loss but Giles defended the decision to change from the long-standing norm.

“One of the criticisms I had during my career was a lack of innovation, a lack of forward thinking,” Giles said.

“And now we’re talking about going back to a system that is pretty antiquated and about 150 years old.

“In what other sports would we have someone sitting on the outside who would be telling the head coach what he should be doing?

“Yes, you build relationships but ultimately it’s a performance game. I think the head coach can still have those relationships in the dressing room. We’ve been accused in the past perhaps of being too cosy, too soft.

“I don’t agree with that.”

Chris Silverwood (left) has been England coach since 2019 and Ashley Giles (right) director of men’s cricket since 2018

England began 2021 by winning 2-0 in Sri Lanka but were then beaten 3-1 in India, 1-0 at home by New Zealand and were trailing 2-1 in the return series against India when the fifth Test was postponed.

They began the Ashes aiming to win a series in Australia for the second time in 34 years, following the 2010-11 success, but succumbed after just 12 days of cricket.

Giles said: “Being here now, in this position, I absolutely feel the responsibility of losing this Ashes series. Absolutely. And we all do. And we can only apologise and I know there will be a lot of emotion, a lot of anger about how we’ve lost it.

“But we know it’s not an easy place to come. We can’t kid ourselves; there’s been a lot more gone on in the last two years than just performance.”

Giles said the players had been “extraordinary” in “getting the game on” during the Covid-19 pandemic. He also defended England’s policy of rotating players, adding that the amount of time spent in bio-secure bubbles is “simply not healthy”.

“Performance has almost been the last thing we’ve had to think about, and that’s a really sad situation,” he said.

“How much time have we really had to sit back and think strategically? Not a lot. But have we got the game on? Have we tried to keep players fit? Well, yes, we tried. And the wellbeing issue is a massive one.”

But Giles said the England and Wales Cricket Board has to look “internally” to assess the men’s Test side’s failings.

The structure of the domestic season, where white-ball tournaments are played at the height of the summer and the County Championship pushed to the early and late season, has also been blamed.

Giles said: “Are we creating the conditions in the game that will allow us to better prepare our cricketers to play in these conditions here? I’m not sure we are at the moment – what we play, when we play, on what we play. And again, that’s a collective responsibility. It’s up to us as the ECB, but also a conversation for us to have with the counties.

“We will review the tour, obviously.

“Everything will be on the table. We’ve got two Test matches left, the series might be lost, but we’ve got two matches we can make an impact on and we’ve got to try to.”

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