How Sporting Director studies helped Giles land top ECB job
Written by Simon Austin — December 21, 2018
WHEN Ashley Giles was studying for the Master of Sport Directorship at Manchester Metropolitan University, he did his dissertation on “whether the ECB’s governance structures are fit for purpose in the 21st Century”.
That should prove quite useful now, because the 45-year-old has just been appointed as the ECB's new Managing Director, succeeding Andrew Strauss. Giles will be “responsible for the long-term strategy of the England cricket team” and will oversee development pathways and coaching.
He says his two years at MMU were career - and perhaps even life - changing. Prior to starting the course, he’d been a famous player, representing England 54 times and regaining the Ashes from Australia, before becoming a coach.
When he embarked on the course, in September 2014, he was at a crossroads, having just been sacked as England's one-day coach earlier in the year.
Course leader Dr Sara Ward remembers: “It was a real leap of faith for Ashley to enrol on the course, but he was determined, competitive and career-orientated. He already had an MBE, had climbed Kilimajaro and was well up for it. He’s a real tracksuit-to-suit success story.”
Within a week of beginning the course, Giles was offered the job of Director of Cricket at Lancashire. Some may have been tempted to jack in their studies, but not the former left-arm spinner.
“He remained determined to finish,” Ward remembers, "his family were in Warwickshire, his kids were in school and he was in a hotel during the week, studying when he wasn’t working. But he didn’t miss a day. He really threw himself into it.”
In December 2016, Giles became the first Sporting Director in English cricket, taking up the role with his home county of Warwickshire. He had played the whole of his 14-year first class career with the county.
“I think Ashley found that role quite challenging to start with, much different to what he’d been used to, because he was stepping back from the players and focusing more on sponsors, agents, player development,” Ward remembers, "but, once again, he thrived.”
Giles, who starts his ECB job at the beginning of January, looks back on his time on the course with fondness and actually returned to MMU as a panellist for their Master of Sport Directorship Convention in September.
He said: “The course was a real experience of personal growth as much as anything, having never done a huge amount of academia. One thing you do get here at the Met is a huge amount of support from the tutors.
"You will be supported through that process, whether it is from your tutors or even your fellow students. I do feel a better person and a better prepared person for it, I just loved it.
"I felt I developed as a person as well as in my role as a Sporting Director and it has probably shaped the way I do my role now.”