Ashley Giles believes the current crop of England stars are better placed to build on the latest cricket boom than his own class of 2005, but has warned they could still burn out without careful management.
Now director of England men’s cricket, Giles was part of the famous Ashes victory 14 years ago when victory over one of the great Australia sides lifted the sport to new heights.
It was a peak that never looked like being matched until this summer’s events, with the unforgettable World Cup win at Lord’s and the compelling drawn Ashes series captivating the nation.
Things fell apart for the 2005 side quicker than anticipated as fitness, form and age caught up with Michael Vaughan’s men but he is confident history will not repeat itself.
“The 2005 side pretty much fell over the line, it was the end of a cycle,” Giles told the PA news agency.
“That side never played together again, it splintered and a few of us soon retired. We won with that team but there was nothing behind it.
“I don’t see that in this side, the age profile and the level of experience is good. They have plenty of time in the bank.
“There’s a Twenty20 World Cup next year and we’ve got a real opportunity to hold both white ball titles at the same time. Our side is in the right space to challenge for that. The red-ball side needs a bit of work but we have started that journey.
“This team has done a lot for cricket in our country and there’s no better way of inspiring generations than making role models and putting them on podiums.”
For all Giles’ positivity, there is a clear and carefully worded note of caution too.
Given current unforgiving schedules the life of a three-format cricketer, four if you count the incoming ‘Hundred’ competition, is likely to be either unsustainable or undesirably short.
In the space of a few months Moeen Ali has opted to step away from Test cricket, Jonny Bairstow has lost and regained his Test place and Joe Root has been dropped from the T20 squad.
The likes of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler remain first-choices across the board but picking their battles, or moving towards more format-specific specialists, is a clear priority.
“It has to be about having enough talent underneath and not just driving this current group into the ground,” said Giles.
“I don’t think it is sustainable to ask all the best players to play every game. The schedule is pretty horrendous and we are going to have to manage our best players or we’re going to lose them.
“The commercial pressures are obvious: the more popular the game gets, the more pressure there is to be more available and be available to people on TV and at the grounds.
“These guys are our best assets, not just in England but across the world, and they’re the ones that make it possible.”
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