Ashley Giles is not happy. Perhaps that is no surprise; England, aiming to regain the Ashes, have just lost the first Test match heavily and Giles was reduced to a peripheral role.

But the main target of Giles' wrath is the media. He is angry, certainly, about the criticism he and his England colleagues have attracted since the defeat at Lord's. But he is also hurt.

Dave Houghton, the former Zimbabwe coach and present Derbyshire coach, has said selecting Giles is akin to fielding only ten men; Derek Pringle referred to Giles as "dead weight" and others in the media have been full of scorn.

What they have often failed to mention is the context of the game. There is not a spinner in the world who could have bowled their side back into a match in which the batsmen had failed to ensure a total beyond 200 in either innings.

Giles has proved - many times over - that he is the best spinner in England. He leads the Division One Championship bowling averages with 24 wickets at 18 apiece and has enjoyed 18 months of consistent performances for his country.

Memories would appear to be short, however. Giles is hurt that, after proving his worth to the side with 127 wickets (at 37 each) and 1,134 runs (at 20) in 46 Tests, the media has played into the opposition's hands by tearing into their own team after only one match. It would not happen in Australia.

"In one game, I've gone from being the best spinner in the country to not being worth my place in the side," Giles said. "And I bowled only 11 overs in the match! Now, apparently, there are four of five better spinners out there.

"People have short memories and it just goes to show how fickle the media in this country is. We've gone from heroes to zeros almost overnight."

Giles' antipathy towards the media makes approaching him for an interview somewhat awkward. But, after a slightly reluctant start, he reverts to the affable fellow with which Warwickshire members will be familiar. One imagines that his greeting to certain former players-cum-commentators may not be so cheery.

He said: "It's always been an easier game from the sidelines, but it's disappointing that former players should lead the criticism of the England side. It's very easy for them to criticise, but they should know the pressure we're under. They should know better.

"I don't know if they just want a couple of minutes of fame, or what it is, but lots of them would struggle against this Australian team and they have been a bit quick to criticise.

"I almost feel as if the older generation don't want us to win, so we don't steal any of their glory. Maybe it's because they were the last team to win the Ashes or because they didn't win them. I don't know. It's difficult for me to understand the harsh things that have been said."

Giles has come in for criticism before, of course. He lost form during the home series against South Africa and has been lampooned for a supposed likeness to a wheelie-bin. While others might have laughed off such banter, Giles seems to take it to heart. Is he unusually sensitive?

"The thing is, you think these people are supporting you. Some of them I considered friends, so it's hurtful to hear the harsh things that are being said. It's a real kick in the nuts. It might sound bitter but that's how I feel.

"We can't just roll over and die. We've got to get on with it. It's our job but it's not much fun when you feel half the country is against you.

"I've just felt I'm pissing in the wind a bit. I've had a pretty successful 12 or 18 months yet it almost seems it doesn't matter what I do, if I have one quiet game then all the critics start saying it's time you were out. It makes it much harder.

"It seems that the three of us [Giles, Ian Bell and Geraint Jones] are the main targets. The situation with Ian just bemuses me, really. He's suddenly gone from being the best young batsman in the country to being too young and not up to it.

"All the criticism can be damaging. There's no doubt it can get to you and I feel for those guys as much as I do for myself."

But do the critics have a point? Giles was unable to withstand Australia's battery of top-quality bowlers, scoring only 11 runs in two innings. More worryingly, he could not contain their batsmen, conceding five runs an over and failing to find any turn.

"I didn't have a great game," he says. "But you can't be at your best every game and all of a sudden they're criticising me for not being Shane Warne again.

"In any profession, you want to pit yourself against the best and that's what this Australian team are. They're probably the best side that's ever played the game, so it will say a lot about this England team if we are able to beat them.

"OK, in the first Test we weren't up to it. We made too many mistakes but that was just one game. We haven't suddenly become a bad team."

England's success has been built upon continuity of selection. Players, secure in the knowledge that they are not always fighting for their future, have felt the freedom to perform to their best and built a unified team spirit. Now, after the first waft of grapeshot, is not the time to abandon the formula.

"The spirit in the team is excellent," Giles says. "We've had success over a period of 18 months and know that one loss is not the end of the world. We lost heavily to South Africa at Cape Town in January but we came back from that.

"We know we had windows of opportunity in the first match. Bowling them out for 190 was our first opportunity but then to slip to 21 for five was massively disappointing.

?Then we dropped a couple of catches ? and I?m not pointing fingers when I say that these things happen ? and we ended up getting quite heavily beaten. There are areas that we have to improve. But there were also quite a few things we did right.?

Giles also faces a test of skill and courage with the bat. As a big man and, he would admit, not the most agile in the side, Australia have clearly targeted him with short-pitched bowing.

?It?s not something you ever get used to, but I have faced a barrage before,? he says. ?It?s hard work but I just intend to play my game. I couldn?t describe the experience as enjoyable, no.?

Although the selectors will surely resist the clamour for changes, it is not certain that Giles will play at Edgbaston. The pitch may well suit seam far more than spin in an attempt to negate the influence of Warne. Giles may have to make way for an extra batsman.

That would be a mistake, however. Only 12 months ago Giles took nine West Indian wickets in a Test on the ground. Anyone who saw his bowling on green pitches in Championship matches at the start of the season will need no convincing as to his worth. He knows the ground and the conditions. He must play.

?I saw the pitch at Edgbaston a couple of days ago and it looked pretty green,? Giles said. ?I?ve got a good record there and the crowd is always great in the way it gets behind us. I always enjoy playing at Edgbaston but obviously it?s most important that the pitch is the best for England.?

In the past Giles silenced the critics with displays on the field. It is the only way he will do so again but, against a great side and in front of a sometimes hysterical and often unrealistic media, he knows that it will not be easy.

One senses that, whatever the outcome of the series on a personal and team basis, Giles? appetite for the game will have been affected. It would be a shame if England?s premier spinner was to be driven into premature international retirement by criticism of his own country?s media. There is a real danger it could happen.