“Fletcher must go” – Engel

England coach Duncan Fletcher has come under further fire in the latest Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, editor Matthew Engel calling unequivocally for his departure: “It is time for renewal, and there can be no renewal without change at the top. Whatever happens in the World Cup, England must have a new coach,” said Engel in his Notes By The Editor section.

Engel, never one to pull his punches, praised Fletcher for his work in the first five years of the millennium, but said that he had stopped listening and learning: “To survive in sports team management long-term, flexibility is paramount. The trick is to sense developing flaws and take action, well before they become obvious to the outside world. Instead, Fletcher foolishly failed to consider the consequences of (Ashley) Giles’s long-term injury or to grasp that (Monty) Panesar was the one weapon he had with even the possibility of surprising the Australians.” He denounced Fletcher as “cowardly” for implying that he had wanted Panesar to play the first two Tests of the series.

The Almanack for 2007 is published tomorrow; this is Engel’s 12th at the helm (with a three-book break), and next year he takes another sabbatical, handing the reins to Scyld Berry. In his latest Notes he also passes comment on the residence of the Ashes Urn; Andrew Flintoff’s troubles; the inevitable Oval scandal; Kolpak players in English cricket and their effect on the South African game; and, intriguingly, tattoos.

Elsewhere in the book, Muttiah Muralitharan is anointed as the Wisden Leading Cricketer In The World with a hard-hitting piece from Simon Barnes. Meanwhile, the ever-present Wisden Five this year comprise Paul Collingwood, Mahela Jayawardene, Mohammad Yousuf, Monty Panesar and Mark Ramprakash.

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