Fletcher’s position under fire

Besieged English coach Duncan Fletcher will have his position assessed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) at the end of next year’s World Cup in the Caribbean.

ECB chief executive David Collier, having just arrived in Australia, confirmed Fletcher’s role would come under scrutiny.

“After the World Cup is the time we will truly reflect on where we go for the next four years,” he said.

Fletcher has gone from Ashes hero to villain in less than 15 months. Many of his decisions have come under fire throughout the tour. Fletcher’s selection of Monty Panesar over Ashley Giles, Chris Read over Geraint Jones and Andrew Flintoff as captain have all been blamed for England losing the Ashes to Australia.

After surrendering the Ashes on Monday, an unrepentant Fletcher faced up to the Australian media. He argued that it was pressure not preparation that caused the players downfall.

“How do you measure whether they were under-cooked or over-cooked or whether it was the pressure or not the pressure,” he said.

“The England management all believe the preparation was right. Ideally, we’d like to have slightly longer but the way the calendar worked meant that was impossible.”

Collier agreed with the coaches sentiments: “I think it’s quite important you have to get the balance right between preparation and the players having a rest period.”

Fletcher did however accept some, but not all responsibility for the loss, saying “Everyone has got to be blamed on how we performed, on how we selected.”

Contrary to reports coming out of the English camp, Fletcher insists he still has the support and respect of his players and staff.

“I still have the players confidence, they still come to me on numerous occasions and still talk to me about tactics,” he maintained. “I have the respect of the players and that’s very important.”

Fletcher said he continued to enjoy his job:

“I am enjoying it,” he said “You have your ups and your downs and as long as there are more ups than downs you enjoy the job.”

The English press continue to call for his head. Perhaps his most vocal critic James Lawton, wrote in the Independent that Fletcher “had been out-thought, outplanned, outmotivated,” and the decision to play Giles ahead of Panesar was “atrocious”.

Meanwhile, Fletcher has made up with Australian captain Ricky Ponting. The two had a public falling out during the 2005 Ashes in England, after the skipper was run out by substitute fielder Gary Pratt in the fourth Test at Trent Bridge.

“I’ve got no hard feelings between Duncan and me,” said the Australian captain.

“There were a few a few months ago, but there’s none now.”

“I went down into their rooms and shook all their players’ hands and then I went back to ours and had a beer.”

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