Ashley Giles has revealed concerns that Ben Stokes’ growing fame is being “used against him” after rejecting allegations of an altercation between the player and his wife.
On Tuesday afternoon the Media Guido blog published pictures of an alleged physical confrontation between the couple during the Professional Cricketers’ Association awards ceremony at the Roundhouse.
Clare Stokes quickly rubbished claims of violence in a Twitter post, while the England all-rounder issued a firm rebuttal to the Daily Mirror, in which he labelled the story “totally irresponsible” and damaging to victims of domestic abuse.
It has also emerged that Stokes and his mother are launching legal action against The Sun following a front-page story on a family tragedy that occurred more than 30 years ago.
Giles, managing director of the England men’s team, checked in with the pair this week and his only worries involved the increasing spotlight the 28-year-old finds himself under following a summer that saw him light up the World Cup and the Ashes with historic performances.
“I was pretty sure as soon as I saw the story there was nothing in it but it was great to speak to both of them,” said Giles.
“They were obviously concerned. We can all say domestic violence is a really serious issue and we’re not making light of that at all but in this case it’s a very happy couple having some fun – a picture telling a thousand words but just the wrong ones.
“I think it’s just a worry in some sense, as to how his profile can be used against him and how susceptible they are as a family to this. The bigger your profile the more difficult it can become.”
Interest in Stokes will be high again when he returns to the country of his birth, New Zealand, later this year and with a Twenty20 World Cup and an away Ashes series all on the horizon, things show no signs of slowing up.
England may well give some thought to how they might ease the burden on their star man and Giles is willing to do so if he can.
“I think everything is ramped up for all these guys now. Success, money…it brings more pressures and they are certainly far different from what we experienced when I played,” he said.
“There’s a lot of good stuff they get but a lot of negative stuff too. Part of my job is to protect them from that. How you do that I’m not sure, you can’t always watch them and their families 24 hours a day, but we’re certainly there for them. Player welfare and support is a big thing for us going forwards.”
Giles had been hoping to talk exclusively about a new era under the guidance of Chris Silverwood, who was this week confirmed as Trevor Bayliss’ successor.
The appointment of the team’s fast bowling coach to the top job was a huge responsibility for Giles’ tenure and he is confident in his call.
“It’s the biggest decision yet,” he said.
“We had some very good candidates, all with different strengths and different plans. It took me a couple of long days, with sleepless nights but that’s how it should be: it’s a big job.
“I was delighted to make that phone call. When you can ring someone who really wants the job, who’s worked really hard towards it, it’s one of the better calls you make.”
Silverwood will oversee a team of three assistants, comprising batting coach Graham Thorpe and Paul Collingwood, whose permanent role in the backroom staff is currently being signed off.
The final position will be his old role in charge of the fast bowlers. Silverwood will be given a big say in who takes over his prior brief, with the potential for short-term cover while the process continues.
Silverwood will be encouraged to take time off from the exhaustive international schedule once he settles into the role, with those beneath him encouraged to step up in his absence.
“If he’s away from T20 cricket Colly would be the perfect man, if it’s Test cricket there’s an opportunity for Thorpey to lead,” said Giles.
“There’s a vacancy with the bowling. You need outside views as well sometimes, whether it’s someone from a different country, a different age group or someone with a few more grey hairs then fine. It’s an opportunity for Chris to have a bit of a free hit, for who he wants in that role.”
Provided by Press Association Sports
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