Giles holding out hope for full England schedule

Ashley Giles is hopeful no England fixtures will need to be cut from the schedule despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Ashley Giles would prefer not to trim the fixture list.   -  Getty Images

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) managing director of men's cricket Ashley Giles is holding out hope for a full international schedule after the coronavirus pandemic.

The ECB announced last month that no professional cricket will be played until May 28 due to the spread of COVID-19, though that date could yet be extended.

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England is due to face West Indies in a three-match Test series starting on June 4, with a series against Pakistan to follow. Limited-overs games against Australia, Pakistan and Ireland are also on the schedule.

Giles is trying to retain a positive outlook and is open to trying to cram in as many games as possible rather than trimming back the fixture list.

"I'm positive that we'll get some cricket in later in the summer," said Giles. "What exactly that looks like I don't know. But we have to be [positive] when we're planning, otherwise it becomes ever decreasing circles and we just get more and more down on the situation. 

"In terms of playing across formats at the same time, we will do whatever we have to do. We will be flexible. By no means would that be ideal but this goes far beyond that. There's some bigger picture stuff here, apart from the health crisis that's going on.

"I don't think anything's off the table, I think it is a blank sheet. If we have to do it, we will. In terms of cricket performance, whilst it not be ideal from a playing point of view, in the long run it might give us a better look at more players and a broader group of people that we might have to play in the future anyway.

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"In that sense, it would give greater opportunity. Everything's on the table. I think it would be wrong of me to sit in these meetings – as much as I fight the professional and players' side – there is a bigger picture here and we are going to have to adapt and be as flexible as everyone else."

He added: "In terms of cricket, we're looking at all scenarios and probably with a focus on protecting some of our bigger games. The big games for us in terms of international teams, Test matches, one-dayers, T20Is, looking at scenarios where we can push those back as far as possible without losing any cricket.

"That is possible and I think we have to hang on to hope that we will get out there and we will play. Whether that's behind closed doors or in front of full houses, no one of us quite know. The priority is to doing what the government tells us to do and to keep everyone safe."

- Squad match idea -

Meanwhile the former England spinner said an intra-squad match similar to the one Australia played before last year’s Ashes could serve as a warm-up fixture for his side if the season can get underway.

With Britain currently in lockdown, players cannot go straight from their homes into the international arena.

“From a playing point of view certainly, I think we’ll need to play a couple of warm-up games,” Giles said.

“They could be behind closed doors, they could be among England players -- none of us really know until we get there.”

Following last year’s one-day World Cup in England, the Australians played a three-day 12-a-side match at Southampton as their sole warm-up fixture for the Ashes.

Australia coach Justin Langer then settled on his squad and saw the tourists hammer England in the first Test at Edgbaston by 251 runs, although the five-match series ended in a 2-2 draw.

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England itself benefitted from a similar fixture when its Twenty20 side lost a practice match to its own second string in Abu Dhabi in 2010.

As a result, batsmen Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter forced their way into the senior team that went on to win that’s year’s World Twenty20 in the Caribbean.

Giles, asked about an intra-squad match, replied: “If we had to, I think that would be a decent way around a problem if we weren’t playing cricket more broadly. I think we could do that.”

Giles added he was also open to the possibility of England’s Test and one-day teams playing at the same time if that was the best way to fulfil fixtures in a shortened season.

“We have got enough depth where we can split our resources but we haven’t got that far,” he said.

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