Ottis Gibson has revealed how England’s players and coaches left Headingley after last month’s Ashes Test Match full of praise for new head of grounds Richard Robinson and his team.
Gibson has been giving his views on the recently concluded 2-2 draw between England and Australia, widely viewed as one of the best series ever.
England came back from 2-0, starting their revival with a thrilling victory at Headingley when they successfully chased 251 to win by three wickets on day four.
Gibson had two spells as England’s bowling coach, involved in the home Ashes series in 2009 and 2015.
“One of the best things about the Ashes for me was, I still have contact with some of those guys – Paul Collingwood is a real good friend of mine, that they were all raving about the pitch at Headingley,” said Yorkshire coach Gibson.
“They said it was the best pitch they’ve played on in Test Cricket in England for a long time.
“Credit to Robbo and his team for producing such an outstanding pitch in a must win game.
“England were able to get Wood and Woakes in, and that gave them an advantage. The pitch helped them.”
England could have easily won the series, with them in a winning position in the fourth Test at Emirates Old Trafford when rain washed out the final day. But, unfortunately, they left themselves with no margin for error having fallen 2-0 behind after two Tests.
“I think England will take 2-2, but I also think they’ll be disappointed because I think they had enough opportunities to win the Ashes, rather than draw the Ashes, and for Australia to retain the Ashes,” continued Gibson.
“They had enough opportunities all through the series from the first game.
“Of course, they don’t need Ottis Gibson sitting somewhere to tell them that. They will know they missed some important opportunities to win back the Ashes.”
But Gibson did go on to say: “I haven’t seen a more entertaining England team with the way they’ve played.”
And he believes the best of their attacking approach is still to come, reasoning that they found a way to attack more smartly as the series progressed.
“I think that’s the case,” he said. “You want to entertain, but you don’t want to entertain and lose series – you want to entertain and win series.
“When you go and play World Cups and Ashes, it’s still about winning. You don’t want to entertain everybody, hit lots of sixes and score at five runs an over and at the end of the game you lose like at Edgbaston.
“The interesting thing for me is ‘Stokesy’ and the way that he plays.
“I think his innings, generally, would be the blueprint because he doesn’t go in and just try to whack it from the first ball.
“He goes in and he builds. Once he’s got to a certain place, then he will try and take the opposition down.
“In the key moments of games, England will know that they have to be smarter, so they will look at that – the second innings at Edgbaston, the dropped catches in the first two games, what happened at Lord’s, and so on.”
Gibson also praised the influence of coach Brendon McCullum.
“The most important thing for me with Bazball, the best thing for me, is the backing from the coaches to the players.
“You look at Zak Crawley. I enjoyed the way he played, and I’d be one of the first to say I wasn’t sure he could play like that.
“A lot of coaches, if a guy was averaging 25 or 28 or whatever, and getting out the same way, would want to go in a different direction. But the guys are being backed, and the language is the same from every single person in terms of, ‘This is how we’re going to play’.”
And the Bajan says that kind of coaching style is one he likes to live by at Yorkshire.
He added: “I’ve always been like that. Growing up in Barbados, I’ve always been, ‘Go out and be positive, go out and score runs’.
“In any given match, whether it’s a flat pitch or not, there’s always a ball with your name on it.
“When you’re out in the middle, keeping moving the game forward has always been my philosophy. That’s how I played, and that’s the attitude I want guys to have who I’m coaching.”