BBC BLOGS - Kevin Howells' blog
« Previous | Main | Next »

Giles plans Warwickshire's rise

Post categories:

Kevin Howells | 16:34 UK time, Thursday, 21 April 2011

Ashley Giles could one day to be named England coach. If he does he will have earned his stripes the hard way. Sleepless nights and stress-filled days have been part of his fight to restore his beloved Warwickshire to being strong Championship contenders.

Giles enters his fourth year as the man in charge at Edgbaston with the previous three having had their moments of success. To win the CB40 last term was a real triumph but the scrap to avoid relegation must have left him bruised.

Mind you any long-term damage to his outlook on the game does not show. He must have spent the off-season putting something special in the Bears porridge, which stirred them from winter hibernation to produce one of the most relentless batterings by a group of bowlers ever seen on poor old Somerset at Taunton.

Giles says himself the Championship is the one which best judges the team over a whole season and he believes the profile is increasing.

"Division Two sides are desperate to get into the top flight and those in it want to stay. It means alot," he said.

In an ideal world Giles would prefer 14 matches not 16 but accepts with the number of clubs we have now it fits perfectly. He would never want to sacrifice his club and understands why nobody else would either.

Warwickshire all-rounder Chris Woakes

Woakes took 6-85 in Somerset's first innings before taking another three wickets in the follow-on and adding 129 with the bat

Whatever reservations he has over the number of games played, Giles thinks the overall quality and competition of cricket has gone up. But playing 37 days out of the first 49 this season sounds a lot.

"Are you going to perform at your peak levels every day?" he considered. "Probably not. But every other side is in the same boat so it's how you best manage your team to deal with that."


The Ashes-winning former England spinner describes last year as one of transition for Warwickshire.

"We went from having Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell quite a lot the previous year, 2,000 runs worth, to hardly seeing them. That's a massive loss. We didn't replace those players so we lost all those runs.

"We have invested more in our playing staff this year. We've made good signings like Will Porterfield. I think he is an exceptional bloke and I think he will be a very good player. Varun Chopra is also starting to come of age."

One stand-out player is all-rounder Chris Woakes. This year might be a bit early for him to enter the Test arena but he is on his way.

"He will play for England in Test cricket at some point," said Giles. "Watching him in the nets at the start of the season he appears to have added a yard of pace to his bowling which would have been a criticism made of him.

"He has the ability to be a genuine all-rounder and if he can keep proving that it makes your passage into the England team even easier because that's what the side are crying out for."

Back to planning an improved season, Giles says he is hoping for better pitches.

"We did play on some poor wickets and once you get in a rut like that you become rabbits in headlights. I've never seen a batting side be in such poor form as we were last year."

An hour after he said that Somerset knew a little of what he was talking about. They were all out for 50.

Giles refers to Bell and Trott as being "Warwickshire through and through", and clearly he is the same himself. One day he will move on and I for one think it will be to an international post.

I must thank those of you who took part in the post blog discussion of last week. The comments took off in a direction I had not expected but, to be blunt, that is none of my business.

Just to clarify, I respect all the Indian Premier League stands for, at least all that I know it stands for. It is entertaining and makes money. However because it is played over the first two months of our season and the Champions League is held in September, it raises a question over the integrity of the English game and what it stands for.

Some of you clearly think it stands for not a lot . But whilst it is being played it should stand up for itself and make sure it does make a difference.

Just one story which is telling. A woman came up to me at the weekend knowing the job I did. She was full of tales of the IPL. She told me she only knew about it because she came across it on terrestrial television. She has neither a dish or cable and she is converted.

You can follow me at


  • Comment number 1.

    There is a lot of romantic tosh talked about 3/4 day county cricket,for the most we have one man and his dog watching matches.This can NOT carry on and has to change.
    If the ECB are unable to be inivotive and foward new ideas to refresh the cricket format,then start county cricket may end and end it 1st week september.
    That would at least give our top players a chance to get payed thier true worth with the IPL.

  • Comment number 2.

    Pram, I can only suppose that you are not a cricket fan, as otherwise you would know that the "one man and his dog" is a legend of the past. Many of the games in the first two rounds of the County Championship have had crowds of 1000+ and, in various cases, several thousand: not bad for April. Even Second Division games are proving to be quite well supported and attendance figures have been increasing steadily. No other First Class competition in the world can boast the attendances of the County Championship. However, it is true that attendance figures are difficult to give for many games because many attendees are members and don't pay at the gate.

  • Comment number 3.

    I agree with stargazer - there is a dangerous myth that the county championship is failing and needs radical change - I've been to each of Worcester's first two home games and been part of crowds of 3000 or so per day with a healthy mix of ages. This is the foundation of cricket in this country - not 20/20 which is a nice add-on, but no more than that.

  • Comment number 4.

    Yes I've been to the first three days of the Worcester v Warwickshire game and theres been nearly 3000 there on each of the three days. If you like cricket you will appreciate the longer format of the game. T20 I go to but its a bit linear.

  • Comment number 5.

    This year is the exception rather than the rule,because of the weather.And please, wark v woc will always get a relativly decent crowd.
    My point is any top player worth his salt would be mad not to play in the IPL,as it set him up for life financially.You might all balk at that,but its a fact.
    The ECB should be inivotive and embrace 20/20,organize our own cash cow of a tournament and then we can use some of the funds to support your holy cow,county cricket.

  • Comment number 6.

    20/20 is undoubtedly entertaining once in a while, mainly because luck decides the winner as much as talent ever does, but it's basically cricket with all its soul ripped out, the IPL is awful to watch though, it's just advertising and hype and even the club colours give headaches.
    Yes cricketers deserve fair pay, but that doesn't mean getting as much as footballers, as we all know that their wages are just obscene, it's difficult to say what would be a truly fair wage, but I doubt if ANY pro cricketer in England earns less than double the average wage any way.
    The county game teaches so much more than the crash-bang-wallop stuff ever will and players who grow up with just the short version will only ever learn half of what cricket is really about, balance is necessary, but that certainly doesn't mean cutting county cricket, just to fill up the schedule with something that cuts technique, planning, patience, concentration etc. down to the minimum necessary.

  • Comment number 7.

    I have always felt that what we really need is a less parochial second tier of cricket. The counties have done a fine job over the decades producing the best players in the country and passing them on up to Test level. Unfortunately now the best players hardly ever play at county level except for one or two cameo appearances. Why not divide cricket into 5 or 6 super areas similar to that adopted in Oz? So for instance the best (England qualified) players from the North West region could pit themselves against the best from the South East etc. These teams could include the Test contracted players as well as the best players from each area County side. The Counties could get together to select their region's best players and all benefit from the receipts that ensue. These games, which need only be 4 or 5 in the initial season, are bound to attract the crowds more than,say, the second day of a Div 2 County match and would put on show some of our brightest hopes for Test status.

  • Comment number 8.

    The only complaint of country cricket right now is the schedule. Too much one day cricket and there should be a regular schedule so that spectators know when games are on.

    Other than that I think county cricket is perfect right now. Good quality with lots of young talent coming through.
    The 4 day format sees 300+ team scores being posted in most innings as it gives 1-11 a chance to build an innings and bowlers have to work for their wickets. The balance between bat & ball is very good.
    England have just destroyed Australia in the Ashes in their own backyard so the talent being produced is very good. Good crowds this year too and the lack of big crowds, music & instant gratification is a welcome relief from most other professional sports.

    It has been talked about the media so much that it 'needs to change' that people now assume that it does need to change without looking at the reality. Why does it need to change?
    Why adopt an Australian model (yawn) when we have won the Ashes again and there is a serious lack of Australian talent coming through?

    The only perceievd flaw with CC is the financial one yet why does every sport indeed everything in this world need to be a money making machine?

  • Comment number 9.

    I'm 26 and so part of the generation that 2020 is aimed at, though probably the older end.
    I work so i can't get along to as much first class cricket as i'd like because it means taking the day off work.
    but the other week i went with two friends to watch Essex play Middlesex at Lords and it was cracking.
    i personally couldn't give a hoot about the IPL, and i think the coverage of Essex on bbc radio is amazing, i tune in whenever i can.
    it would be better if the very best players were always available to play for their counties but the england team is more important. with things like the IPL meaning overseas player aren't available to a pain but if it means counties focus their resources on developing their own players so much the better.
    i can see why the Australian-type regional model is popular with some but i think the two division championship works well. Justin Langer said the first division was the hardest domestic cricket he's ever played, and the standard of players from second division teams who play for England (e.g. Steve Finn, Steve Davies) seems to me no lower than Ian Bell who plays in the first division so i think the set up works well

  • Comment number 10.

    #2 & #3

    Sorry to disagree, but I can't help feeling that 1,000-3,000 attendance is barely out of one-man-and-a-dog territory. Certainly, it's not financially viable on its own.

    I don't want to see county cricket change too much - what needs to change is the scheduling. How about playing two matches (between two different pairs of teams) on the same ground in a day, now they all have floodlights? County cricket all day, then 20-20 in the evening, one ticket for both. No-one's going to turn up just for the last hour of a day's play, but people might well come along a bit early for the 20-20 to watch the end of the day's play in the county game.

  • Comment number 11.

    Firstly congratulations to Ashley Giles and his conversion from player to coach but Mr Flower will hopefully have the reigns for a while yet.

    On the subject of the IPL window there can only be room for the cream of our English players in the IPL. So why shutdown county cricket for the many hard working (up and coming) county cricketers. A compromise could still be found on ECB & county terms.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.