For England's sake, I certainly hope not. For some strange and completely bewildering reason England value Ashley Giles to such an extent that they have taken him along as a "non-playing member" to the Champions Trophy in India.
Giles is so pumped up about his chances for The Ashes, he blurts, "If I am happy with how I am bowling, even in net practice, I am willing to take on a Test match every time". I mean, seriously - grow up! He should know by now the immense difference between feeling good in the nets and replicating that in a pressure cooker Test match.
Much in the same way that Sourav Ganguly was, Duncan Fletcher seems to be very loyal to the players who have been members of winnings sides, no matter how much of a fluke or inconsequential their performances might have been. This could come back to hurt Fletcher and more importantly, England, if they even think about playing Giles in the upcoming Ashes series.
A lot is made of the fact that Giles took 10 wickets in the last Ashes series, including "all of Australia's top eight". So what? Michael Clarke also took 6 wickets in the one Mumbai test, including some of India's top batsmen. Do you see him included in a test match lineup based on his spin bowling abilities. For all intents and purposes, Giles has as much spinning ability as Clarke. In fact, Clarke puts a significantly more amount of revs on the ball than Giles could ever dream of.
It mystifies me as to why England keep harking back to the past in search of future glory. Sure, Giles was somewhat effective on low, slow dust bowls when Nasser Hussain had no option but to employ ridiculously negative tactics in order to avoid humiliation. Even in such conditions, Giles failed to turn the ball even half a bat width. On the bouncy pitches of Australia, those balls are going to be pleading with the batsmen to be hit out of the ground. To add to England's woes, unlike the previous edition of The Ashes, the current Aussie batting lineup is in supreme form and showing no signs of doing anything, but getting better, in the near future.
England have unearthed an out-and-out match winner in Monty Panesar. The guy has won them matches off his own back, in England of all places. He has taken more wickets in one Test than Giles has often managed in a whole series, in England of all places!
Much has been made of Panesar's batting and fielding deficiencies. Even more has been made of the news that he went to see a shrink. IMHO, the kid is one of the most talented left arm spinners in world cricket at the moment, alongside Daniel Vettori. He has taken wickets and won England matches against a Pakistani team that smacks Danish Kaneria all over the place during net practice.
I get the feeling that Panesar has Andrew Flintoff's full confidence, ever since his steady debut in India. That might be all he needs to play in the first Gabba Test and show what he really can do with the ball. If he does fail in the first Test, I pray that they do not rush Giles back, for it will be the nail in the coffin of a surefire Aussie victory.
But who listens to me anyway?
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