England’s Tim Bresnan expects a smooth transition to life under new limited-overs coach Ashley Giles.
This month’s ODI tour of India represents the first step of England’s brave new world – a split coaching set-up that sees team director Andy Flower retain overall control and Test duties, while ceding the one-day and Twenty20 sides to Giles.
It is a novel, though arguably long overdue, response to the increasingly overcrowded international schedules but Bresnan does not anticipate a vast overhaul of England’s one-day strategy.
Former left-arm spinner Giles, an Ashes winner in 2005, made his name as a resolute and reliable team man during his playing career and those qualities could again serve him well in his new role.
The 39-year-old, previously director of cricket at Warwickshire, took charge of training for the first time yesterday morning in Delhi and won Bresnan’s instant approval.
“He’s been generally imparting some of his knowledge and doing the day-to-day running of things and it’s so far, so good,” said the Yorkshire seamer.
“He’s quite chilled out but we’ll see what happens. He might fire a few rockets and surprise people. That’s what you get from a new coach and we’re looking forward to it.
“Gilo’s obviously a fantastic coach or he wouldn’t have been appointed and what he did with Warwickshire (winning the LV= County Championship) last year was phenomenal.
“He floated in and out during the Test series in his role as a selector, talked to some of the lads and it was good.
“Most of the plans we use for one-day cricket are already in place and I think it will be pretty seamless for him to come in and pick up the reins.”
Giles’s first assignment is a tough one. England’s record in one-day cricket away to India is modest to say the least, with 40 ODIs played and only 13 victories.
They have also won just one series, in 1984-85, and suffered 5-0 whitewashes in their last two visits but Bresnan sees reason for cheer in England’s efforts before Christmas.
The 27-year-old was short of his best form but a 2-1 victory in the Test series saw the tourists reverse an equally daunting record in that format, before a battling display in the final match of the trip saw them square the Twenty20 series 1-1.
Those results may not reverse England’s status as underdogs in the five-match rubber but they do serve to muddy the waters somewhat.
“We definitely go in with a lot of confidence,” said Bresnan.
“We won the Test series and then the Twenty20 win at the end, just before Christmas, was a massive confidence boost.
“If we can play similar cricket to that in a longer format then we shouldn’t have a problem.”
Despite his optimism, Bresnan does not expect India to make life easy.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side are coming under strong criticism locally after losing consecutive one-day matches to fierce rivals Pakistan, but Bresnan is ready for a response.
“India are a good side, make no bones about that,” he continued.
“Each and every international team has a dip in form but they can come back very strong and very quickly. We are expecting a stern test.”
England have another practice day today before Giles oversees his first match as an international coach, a warm-up against an inexperienced looking India A. As far as Bresnan is concerned, though, nothing has changed.
“It is the same as any tour match, we’re looking to win and that’s the bottom line,” he said. “Winning is a habit and we’re looking to get into it very quickly.”
South Africa finalised an innings and 27-run hammering of New Zealand midway through the third day of the opening Test in Cape Town.
The Proteas fast-paced success, their fifth biggest Test win over New Zealand, was all but secured after they bowled the tourists out for just 45 on the opening morning.
The Black Caps were never likely to recover from slumping to their lowest ever total against South Africa, beating the 79 they managed at Johannesburg in 1954, and only Dean Brownlie’s maiden century yesterday stretched the contest beyond halfway of the scheduled five days.
Victory ensured South Africa, the top-ranked Test nation, will go an 11th series without defeat before the second and final match in Port Elizabeth begins on January 11.
Seamer Vernon Philander was named man of the match, after he inspired the opening-day demolition with 5-7, although he and his team-mates were at least made to toil by Brownlie yesterday.
The 28-year-old right-hander temporarily gave New Zealand hope they could at least force South Africa to bat again after posting his first Test century in his eighth match. That had looked a forlorn hope when South Africa declared their first innings on 347-8 to take a mammoth 302-run lead.