England’s upcoming Test series in the West Indies offers Joe Root’s side the opportunity to build up a head of steam ahead of this summer’s Ashes, says Ashley Giles.
Root led England to their first away series whitewash since 1963 by defeating Sri Lanka 3-0 in November, months after securing a 4-1 series success at home to India.
Giles – who took over as director of men’s cricket at the start of the year – says a third successful series in a row will put England in good shape to regain the urn they lost to Australia in a humbling 4-0 defeat in 2017/18.
“No one series is everything but we’ve created some good momentum recently and it’s important to keep that up, particularly leading into such an important summer,” said Giles.
“What we’ve got now is a good pool of players that we can pick from – a lot of adaptable, modern cricketers who can be flexible in their roles; we saw that in Sri Lanka in what was a fantastic series to win.
“Conditions will be different in the West Indies but actually the pitches might be quite similar to some of those in Sri Lanka.
“We’ve got a good selection panel, good coaches and very good leadership, so in terms of picking the team to go out and play on any given day we’ve got the right people in the right place.”
While national selector Ed Smith will make the final decision on how England line up, Giles is keen to sit in on selection meetings and offer advice gained from his playing and coaching experience.
England chose to rotate their attack for the third Test against Sri Lanka in November – Stuart Broad coming in to lead the seam unit in place of the rested James Anderson as spin held sway.
With 199 Ashes wickets between them the experienced pair will once again be at the forefront of England’s bid for the urn and, looking to the longer term, Giles admits replacing either will be tough.
“It was always going to be tricky and that’s no discredit to our development system,” said Giles.
“We need to make sure as much as we can that our development systems are working to give us options – the bigger pool of players that we’ve got to pick from, the better.
“But it’s clearly a concern because they’ve just been fantastic for English cricket and hopefully they’ll go on for a bit longer yet!”
Australia’s line-up could include senior batsmen David Warner and Steve Smith, who will be eligible for selection for international cricket again after completing 12-month bans for their role in the ball-tampering scandal in two months’ time.
“Australia have got to be a stronger side with those guys in it,” said Giles. “They are two high-quality players. They will have served their time and it’s up to the Australian selectors as to whether they pick them or not. It’s going to be challenging, whoever is put in front of us.
“Australian sides are never easy to beat so we need to be as well-prepared as we possibly can be and use home advantage as much as we can.
“Both teams are used to playing on decent pitches; the difference here is that the ball always swings a little bit more and we know we have some of the best exponents in the world of making the most of those conditions. Australia’s bowling attack is dangerous too.
“We want pitches that are going to produce good cricket with the best team winning.”
Watch England’s tour of the Caribbean live on Sky Sports this winter, starting with the first Test in Barbados from 1pm on Wednesday.
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