King of Spain retires

The King of Spain was a great nickname, much better than 'The Wheelie Bin' for example - another name with which Ashley Giles was branded.

The 'three-dimensional cricketer'

For a good many years Ashley Giles was the least regarded member of the England team. Only a succession of wicketkeepers could rival him for that title, but he survived and managed the rare feat of scoring both 1,000 Test runs and taking 100 Test wickets.

His bowling average of 40 is probably fair though. He was employed as the least glamorous bowler in Duncan Fletcher's sides. A man who 'kept it tight'. A man who bored batsmen out for his wickets. On occasions, on the right pitch, he could rise to the occasion and attack, but it was pretty rare.

But oh how absence makes the heart grow fonder. What England wouldn't do for a number eight batsman who could average 20 now. We just described him as the least glamorous bowler in Duncan Fletcher's sides, but he was also the least glamorous batsman and as such he was handy. Add in his glue-like hands in the gully and here was a cricketer of some worth.

Ashes 2005

Our favourite Gilo memories are almost inevitably from the 2005 Ashes series. They're both with the bat. Giles was primarily a bowler, so in this regard, he disappointed. As a lower-order batsman, runs were a delight. It was all relative to expectation.

The first memory is of Giles and Hoggard seeing England over the line in the fourth Test when every single run felt like a minor miracle. You will never see a finer seven not out than Ashley Giles' innings that day.

Take a look at a replay and observe Steve Harmison waiting to bat. We've literally never seen anyone so nervous in our life. Never. That Giles could so much as hold a cricket bat was a source of wonder to us. Even beer didn't settle our nerves at the time. Even beer, you hear. Even beer.

The second memory is of his career-best 59 that helped England draw the fifth Test and therefore win the Ashes. Again, how did he combat the nerves and coordinate his limbs?

Everyone remembers Kevin Pietersen's innings, but when Giles came in England were 199-7; 204 ahead with 40-odd overs to go. The Australians were sniffing victory.

When Giles passed 50 the crowd went mental. By that point in the series, pretty much everyone taking an interest was ravaged by nerves to the point of dementia, but still. They really, really appreciated what he'd done.

When he acknowledged them and removed his helmet, you can clearly see a tear in his eye, if you watch it again. You'll all accuse us of being a woman, but we liked that.

Good cricketer, Ash. Not the best, but pretty-damn-useful when it mattered.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

although you are mildly appreciative of Mr Giles, i can't help but feel you don't truly appreciate him... clearly a class all rounder, of which England are now in sore need.... if cricketers were bollox, this guy would be the dogs.

1:33 am  

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