“It’s easy to be an armchair selector. I fully support everything Joe and Chris do, clearly, and the teams taken on the field. But on reflection I think that’s a question for them,” said Giles.” In terms of national selector, at the time I said I wanted to give more responsibility and accountability to the England head coach. We’ve done that.”
There is a short window of opportunity to make any changes. England leave for the Test leg of their West Indies tour in the final week of February where they will play three Tests, possibly without a head coach, and in a state of flux with exhausted players expected to perform again. Giles said he has no control over the schedule with more cricket again crammed into 2022. England go to West Indies next month, before playing seven Tests at home, three in Pakistan and a World T20.
“I am worried that given the hangover of this last 18 months and what guys have been through here that the West Indies won’t be that easy. We could be heading into another environment that is tight. I think the guys are at their very top limit of dealing with that,” he said.
Giles succeeded Sir Andrew Strauss in 2018 and had promised to put Test cricket first again after the World Cup win but enthusiastically embraced rest and rotation this year, often at the expense of the Test team, while the white-ball sides were fully stocked, and has given up on trying to prevent players going to the IPL, even giving them permission to miss a Test series against New Zealand to fulfil lucrative contracts in India.
He will argue that was put in place by his predecessor who wanted players to experience the IPL in the build-up to the 2019 World Cup, and once that happened it was impossible to go back on the agreement without threatening the relationship with the players. Players are now the power-brokers and someone has to be strong enough to stop that happening in the future.
“Is it ideal? No. Have I always had power to control that? No, I don’t think I have,” he said. “I see involvement in the IPL (continuing) but stop it creeping into any more of the season. We don’t want to miss any Test cricket, particularly. That is the aim but we have to manage their workloads and our schedule within that as well. It is tricky for everyone. These conditions are exceptional. It is very difficult to know because at the moment we are living in an environment that is 40-50 per cent tougher mentally on these guys. Until we get back to normal then we will really know what is best.
“I’ve heard so much about rest and rotation, and about our responsibility to that. Just forget the words, forget what it’s called. We’re trying to keep our people well. They get pushed and pulled everywhere. They get things stuck up their nose all the time and they just get on with it. And it’s extremely difficult.”