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Focus is on winning tomorrow, says Ashley Giles

In light of accusations of ball tampering, the England coach says they achieved reverse swing because of the rough square at Edgbaston and not because of tampering

Focus is on winning tomorrow, says Ashley Giles - Cricket News
Ashley Giles, Head Coach of England addresses the media.
I know it's a very important game to prepare for, but I know you're obviously aware of negative headlines around the England team about ball tampering and so on.  It's been quite a talking point. What's your reaction to that? 
Reaction is disappointed because we have got a huge game. We're basically into the quarter-final, a must‑win game, and yeah, there's a lot of headlines about the wrong stuff, really. You know, the situation the other day, the ball was changed as far as I’m aware because the ball had gone out of shape. So, we asked that question, the captain asked that question, which he has every right to do of the umpires, and the ball was changed, and that was --the rest is history. But from our point of view we want to focus on the right stuff and win this game tomorrow.  

Ashley, Bob Willis has effectively accused your England team of ball tampering. Is that an allegation you take seriously? 
I guess we always take allegations seriously, but again, people have every right to say what they're going to say. We can't stop them saying these things, all we can do is ‑‑ I know it sounds boring, but focus on what we've got to do. The most important thing for this team is winning that game of cricket tomorrow, not what Bob Willis is saying.  

Do England tamper with the ball? 
No, we don't tamper with the ball. You know, I hope we can talk about something else because we keep ‑‑ we're going over the same ground. We play our cricket as hard as anyone else. All the headlines in the papers today are disappointing for us as a team. There's even mention of one of our players, specific roles, and that player is an extremely good cricketer, has had an extremely good series so far, and we'd like to let him concentrate on playing his cricket as best as he can.  

I understand that, but because reverse swinging is clearly a key weapon in all cricket but particularly in one‑day cricket where wickets are hard to come by, England are adept, they've got some great exponents of it, but they need the ball to do it. What do you -- how do you work on the ball to make sure that the bowlers have got that great chance of getting reverse swing? 
Well, the one big thing about this tournament so far that we've seen, particularly Edgbaston, where we did get reverse swing, was how dry the squares are, and I guess that's a mixture of the amount of watering you're allowed to do, the new drainage systems, which sap all the moisture out of the blocks, the squares, and the amount of wickets that have been cut on those squares because there's been practice games, there's a number of internationals being played on the same square, and that's the one ground where it went around.  And also there's loads of different methods.  We could talk all day on bowling cross seamers, et cetera, but --  

I think that's what people want to know a little bit about. 
Well, you saw Edgbaston. We were probably bowling cross‑seamers into ‑‑ I don't know exactly, but probably into the second, third, fourth over. From the boundary you've got to throw the ball in the bounce because not everyone can throw it in on the full from 70 meters, and that's permitted by regs to bounce it in once, and as we saw at Edgbaston the ball started going around. Of course it's helpful, but at The Oval it didn't do it.  

Ashley, New Zealand had the better of England in the bilateral series, so how are you gearing up for this contest and will that have a bearing on this game? 
Well, we've played cricket against New Zealand in this recent period. We played a series against them in New Zealand which we won 2‑1, we lost the one here 2‑1, so it's the decider, I suppose, and it is a quarter-final. If you're going to go on and do well in world tournaments, these are the sort of games you've got to win. I guess we're all hoping the weather stays at bay and we just get on with a full day's cricket, but they're a good side. We know the kiwis are a gritty side, well‑organized, well‑led, but so are we, and our focus has got to be on what we do well.

Disappointing to lose the game the other day to Sri Lanka, but it took an incredibly good innings from one of the best players in the world to do that. So, you know, that does happen. But we always prepare as well as we possibly can to limit those opportunities for sides to beat us.  

How disappointing is it to you personally that these allegations have come from a former England captain? 
That's not particularly disappointing or not. I mean, really, I don't read a lot of the press now, had my moments in the past as you all know. My job is to try and prepare this team and to work with the other coaches and Alastair Cook on doing that to the best of my abilities. But I can't stop people saying what they're going to say or what they're going to write.  

Ashley, just on your approach, the defeat to Sri Lanka, do you reassess the way that you go about, you know, scoring? There's been a bit of talk obviously setting that platform and maybe a bit of pressure on those guys down the order. Is that something you can look at in the buildup to this game? 
It seems, again, to be a regular discussion point, and for us I don't think it's rocket science. I don't think any other side really plays it particularly different. 50 overs is a long time. You want to set the innings up and give yourselves a platform to build from later on. So, we've been in good positions all the way through, so after 40 overs, we were 201/2, I think, so a perfect platform to really go from. You're not expecting any of your big guns just to be able to come in and smack it everywhere all the time, but if one of those guys comes off you're going to get a good score. And to be fair, we were happy we were happy with 293. Having lost the toss on that day on that wicket, it was quite tricky early on, and I thought Cooky and Bell played really well because it would have been easy to be 30/2, 30/3. There's different areas of that game, and we've got to improve our game, but I thought that was one of the variables that was important.  But taking away from that, Sri Lanka batted very, very well, as well.  

One more time on ball tampering, it's obviously a very emotive issue. In your opinion is it a bad crime in the grand scheme of things? 
Well, it's against the laws of the game. A crime is a crime, isn't it? There's a number of issues going on in world cricket that need to be addressed, and this is the one that seems to be at the top of the agenda at the moment.  

Is it up there – you know, murder or speeding, where is it? 
Well, I don't think I'd put it in a hierarchy. I'm pretty sure it's not murder.  

Just wanted to ask about the ‑‑ is England's strategy slightly risky in terms of backloading the innings where you have – you go for no loss of wickets? 
Well, what we're trying to do is -- it's not ‑‑ we're not looking at each point in the game to be at a certain point, so at 35 overs we've got to be here, because every game is different, as well, and every wicket conditions are different, so we have to be adaptable, we have to be flexible. But we never hide the fact we've got our best players at the top of the order, and ideally, as Sangakkara did for Sri Lanka, one of those guys bats big, bats through and gives some of the other guys freedom to play as they can. We're lucky; I think we've got, possibly, a really destructive middle with Morgan, Bopara, who played some unbelievable shots the other day, and we've seen a little taster of Jos Buttler. We have the ability to ruin some bowlers' days, but it's not always going to come off, and we have the experience at the top of the order with Cook, Bell and Trott, who read situations really well, and if they have to go a bit harder on a given day because of the size of boundaries or the flatness of wicket, they will. So every day is different.

Most sides play the same way ‑‑ India don't play that much different.  They look to set up from the top and then go hard at the back end.  It's not a lot different, really. 

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