Ashley Giles: Warwickshire and England Cricketer

PUBLISHED: 00:21 08 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:13 20 February 2013

Ashley Giles

Ashley Giles

He has been Warwickshire and England's King of Spin for many years and when Ashley Giles announced his retirement from the game at the end of the 2007season, cricket fans knew they hadn't seen the last of him.

He has been Warwickshire and England's King of Spin for many years and when Ashley Giles announced his retirement from the game at the end of the 2007season, cricket fans knew they hadn't seen the last of him.

Words: Phil Britt

Pictures: Phil Britt and Tessa Jenkins

Ashley Giles is now Director of Cricket at Edgbaston and tasked with restoring Warwickshire to their former glory levels after a disasterous 2007 season saw them drop into the second division of both the four and one day domestic competitions.

When meeting Ashley for the first time, you quickly realise that here is a man who knows exactly where he is going in life and that, despite having reached the pinnacle in his playing career for both Warwickshire and England, has set out a new set of priorities and objectives for his future, now his playing days are over.

It was back in 2005 that 'Gilo' - as he is affectionately known by friends - was an intregal member of the England squad, with both his bowling and batting, as England regained the Ashes for the first time in over twenty years.

After playing in the winning side at Edgbaston, he hit the winning runs at Trent Bridge and then made 59 in the final Test match at the Oval in a partnership with Kevin Pietersen, helping draw the match and win the series.

However, 2005 had started poorly for Gilo, when the cricketing media had made life difficult and he admits he'd made the mistake of reading some of the "bad press" early on.

"Reading the press, as a professional sportsman is up to you! In 2005 I made the mistake of doing just that," he confessed."When you read negative reports about yourself it eats away and then it becomes almost impossible to distance yourself from it."

He added," It was the solidarity of the 2005 side and the knowledge that I had their support that helped me through the difficult times."

Gilo had made his England debut in 1998 after joining Warwickshire five years earlier.

"I was a fast bowler when I started playing cricket, but an injury to my back forced me to concentrate on spin bowling when I was developing through the Surrey youth scheme."

Ashley was born in Guldford, Surrey, and, when his home county decided not to offer him a senior contract in 1993, he joined a Warwickshire side on the threshold of winning back-to-back County Championship titles over the next two years.

"It was 1995 when I managed to break into the side and with players like Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Dermot Reeve and later Brian Lara playing over the years, there was only one way my career could go," he said.

"They were fantastic years and coming to play for Warwickshire was the best thing that ever happened to me, especially with Dermot as captain, he gave you a real belief in what you were doing and the players would have followed him anywhere."

Gilo and his wife Stine moved to Droitwich in Worcestershire in 1999, where they still live, with their two children. The family has recently moved into a new property in the town and see this move as being a long stay one.

After the Ashes success, Gilo was made an "Honorary Citizen" of Droitwich, in an official ceremony, "The only one!" he is quick to point out, and followed this with a trip to the Palace where he and his England colleagues were awarded MBE 's for their Ashes triumph over Australia.

A hip problem resulted in Ashley missing all of the 2006 season and after visiting the USA for corrective surgery he underwent a summer of rehabilitation back in England with his goal being inclusion in the England squad to visit Australia for the 2006/7 series.

He finally won that particular battle and was included in the Test side for the opening two matches, but a re-occurence of the hip problem and his wife Stine's serious illness, forced him to return home early and heralded the end of the spinner's Test career.

The 2007 season saw Ashley undergoing more surgery and ultimately he was forced to admit defeat when the doctors ordered him to call it a day.

"It was a strange day," he said, " Cricket wasn't just my career, it was virtually everything I'd done since being a child of five or six years of age."

"It was important not to dwell on the past but I had to look forward, although it was difficult when I thought that I'd never play the professional game again."

During the summer of 2007 whilst going through a further recovery period, Ashley worked with the BBC cricket commentary team on Radio5 Live covering the Test series against the West Indies and India.

"I enjoyed the radio work with the BBC, but I really wanted to get into some form of coaching or mentoring and the position at Edgbaston as Director of Cricket was exactly what I was looking for," he said, with enthusiasm.

The new job leaves Gilo responsible for all levels of Warwickshire's cricket .

"I'm pretty much in charge of all cricket at Edgbaston, from the grass roots up through the Academy and on to the first and second elevens," he smiled as he said,"It's a tough but exciting job and there's high expectations at a club like Warwickshire, we've had one or two poor seasons of late and everyone associated with the club is anxious for fortunes to change and for the first team to get back into the first division."

"We're trying to make sure we run the club as a true professional sports entity, so we've brought high profile coaches on board. People like Allan Donald my assistant, who is also the bowling coach and then we've got former players like Keith Piper, Neil Abberley and Dougie Brown, working with the second team and the Academy youngsters. They've all got Warwickshire at heart"

Giles confesses that he feels comfortable with this type of support team around him, " I know if there's something we need to discuss, it will go no further and I've grown to trust these men as both team mates and colleagues over the years."

" It's an exciting prospect," he added. " I've not played too much over the last few years in County Cricket due to International appearances, so it's not straight from the dressing room to the manager's chair. I know what's gone on, as I was about at the club, but I've kept a distance as I think if I'd come straight from the dressing room to this job, it could have been difficult."

There's always a risk that a good player may not necessarily make a good coach and does he still hanker after playing.

"Coaching isn't a compensation for playing," he insists, " There's a real job to do here and I had no option but to give up. My body wasn't allowing me to play any longer, it still hurts now, so I know I couldn't have carried on and now I'm looking forward to wherever the new job takes me."

"I've worked with some of the best coaches in cricket, Duncan Fletcher and Bob Woolmer in particular, so I'm hoping to put into practice some of the techniques learned from them over the years."

Giles is realistic and tempers his ambitions of restoring former glories by insisting that it will take time.

"I'm not just covering my back," he explains, "the boys have worked hard over the winter months and with the benefit of the great facilities , support and tradition here at Edgbaston, the results will come, but it will take time. There's no instant fix"

"Early season indications are that the boys are learning from each game and we've already in the opening three or four matches had some outstanding performances, but supporters will need to be patient. It's not going to happen overnight, but as long as we all take something from each time we play, then that's all I can ask."

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