Michael Atherton says the race for the England job is 'very open' after a disastrous winter.
Speaking on the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast, the former England captain reckons Ashley Giles’ chances of landing the prized role have lengthened after he oversaw the national team’s early exit from the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.
That campaign included a shock defeat to the Netherlands, hot on the heels of an Ashes drubbing Down Under, in which Giles was also involved as a selector.
Lancashire coach Peter Moores, Nottinghamshire director of cricket Mick Newell and Australian Trevor Bayliss, fresh from leading New South Wales to the Sheffield Shield last week, are also on the shortlist for the vacancy and Atherton says the ECB will judge each man on his upcoming interview.
“Giles was a strong favourite at the start of the World Twenty20, he’s less of a strong favourite now,” said the Sky Sports pundit.
“The result against the Netherlands didn’t do him any favours and he can’t escape responsibility for the winter England have had because he’s been a selector who is responsible for picking the team that got whitewashed out there and he’s been in charge of the one day team as well.
“There are four men on the shortlist and the next three weeks will be critical. They’ll all sit down in front of the people who decide these decisions and whoever interviews best is going to get the job.
“It’s very open at the moment. Giles might still be marginal favourite but I wouldn’t say he’s an overwhelming favourite now.”
The odds of Moores earning a second crack at the England job have tumbled over the past week and Atherton says he is better placed now Kevin Pietersen has been removed from the equation.
Moores was sacked as England coach in 2009 after falling out with then-captain Pietersen, however the batsman’s international career now appears over after he wasn’t selected for the national team’s tour of the Caribbean in February.
“It would be inconceivable that Moores could become England coach if Pietersen was in the team, such is the history of bad blood between them,” said Atherton.
“I don’t think the ECB are going to go back on the Pietersen situation, so that paves the way, if they believe Moores is the best man, for that to happen.”
Download the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast to hear Atherton also discuss Alastair Cook’s remarks about Kevin Pietersen, Michael Carberry’s criticism of the England selectors and the upcoming summer.
The podcast also includes Rob Key’s thoughts on the World Twenty20 semi-finals, Sri Lanka v West Indies and India v South Africa.
Alternatively you can listen on Soundcloud.