Reports coming out this morning suggesting that Fletcher has not been totally happy with the team selection on this tour, and that Flintoff is the man primarily responsible for the selectorial element of this disaster.
This is not a such a ridiculous assertion and can actually be fairly easily supported by the evidence. All it requires is an acknowledgement of one fact:
ie.I don't think many people could make a case to dispute this, but from it all else follows. Some of his statements so far on this tour have been so ludicrous that there is surely very good cause to not take them at face value, and think that what is mainly going on is that he is attempting to offer public cover for his captain. The suggestion about Mahmood is particularly interesting - everyone should know how much Fletcher rates Mahmood, he has recieved endless criticism for repeated picking him in the past despite some quite appalling performances. But when he finally received some limited vindication in this respect (Mahmood performed well vs Pakistan), Flintoff was not around to see it. And, to many people's surprise, Mahmood has been a virtual outcast from a very early stage of this tour.Throughout his period of England coach, Fletcher has ALWAYS publicly backed his captain and players to the hilt.
Similarly, but not quite as dramatically, Flintoff can only ever have received second hand reports about Panesar's progress through the second half of last summer. I don't think Flintoff has much respect for finger spinners anyway, so it's not surprising if he chose to treat suggestions about Panesar with some scepticism (including, incidentally, his improved fielding).
Furthermore there is the mystery of David Graveney now coming out in support of Fletcher and backing the party line, despite his fairly well accepted views on Panesar and Read. Could it be that Graveney, having (along with Miller) overruled Fletcher on the issue of the captaincy, is now having to row in behind the coach because of his clear responsibility for the disaster?
I think there are going to be some very interesting stories to tell in the fallout from this series.
If you accept the basic assertion of this post - that Fletcher always backs his players (something that has been a key part in earning his players' trust and respect as a coach), and his public statements do not always reflect his private views then ultimately some of the flak for the disaster of this tour may have to be pointed elsewhere.