England Cricket Players
NBC Denis Compton Award 1996
NBC Denis Compton Award 1997
Wisden Cricketer of the Year 2005
The Ashley Giles story is an endearing tale of one man's triumph over the doubters. With a high-trotting approach to the crease climaxing in an energetic flurry of limbs, Giles does not have the most fluent spin-bowling action - possibly because he began life as a fast bowler - and was once derided as a "wheely-bin", much to his own annoyance. But he is accurate, finds some turn and even more bounce, and he established himself as England's No. 1 slow bowler during the triumphant tour of Pakistan in 2000-01. Throughout his tenure, he has had to justify his selection at almost every moment of uncertainty, and in early 2004 he came close to retirement after a modest tour of the Caribbean. Instead, he returned a matchwinning nine-wicket haul at Lord's later that summer, and inbued with new confidence, he continued to chip in with vital performances - with ball and increasingly, with bat - culminating in his career-best 59 at The Oval, an innings which helped seal England's first Ashes victory for 18 years. Until his late flowering, Giles's most memorable moments had all come on his three tours of the subcontinent. The rip-snorting delivery that pitched outside leg and fizzed past Inzamam-ul-Haq's dangling bat on to the stumps at Karachi was the best piece of bowling by an England spinner since Phil Tufnell teased the Aussies at The Oval in 1997, and paved the way for a famous victory. The following winter, and nursing a persistent Achilles injury, he hobbled back and forth from the middle to the physio's ice bucket, while returning Test-best figures of 5 for 67 at Ahmedabad. And, two years later, after remodelling his action and enduring a dismal tour to Bangladesh, he burst back to form in Sri Lanka, with 18 wickets in the series and a magnificent matchsaving stand in the first Test at Galle. It was just the latest of many impressive batting performances from a man who had worked hard at his game to become a pivotal player in England's lower order, and against New Zealand at Trent Bridge in 2004 his stand with Graham Thorpe was instrumental in England's triumph. One month later at Lord's, he produced a wickedly ripping delivery to bowl Brian Lara - his 100th wicket in Tests, weeks after being virtually written off by the press. In the field he has a strong arm and is agile for a man of his size.