England sets revised target for being number one

Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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London:English cricket chiefs unveiled a new national plan for the sport here, with a target date of 2009 for the national side to become the best in the world replacing the 2007 goal announced in a mission statement four years ago.

England have risen to second in the world Test rankings since 2001 and are now only behind world champions Australia whom they host in an Ashes series starting in July.

And with another campaign against the all-conquering Australians -- who have won all eight Ashes series since 1989 -- scheduled for 2007, recently-appointed England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive David Collier felt 2009 was a more realistic date for the side to reach the sport's summit.

"We have had a successful run and won the last four Test series," Collier told BBC Radio Four's Today programme on Tuesday.

"We want our men's, women's and disability teams to be number one or two in both the Test and One-day games by 2009," the former Nottinghamshire chief added.

"Clearly we have made huge progress on that. The women recently reached the World Cup semi-finals and the men are rated two in the World Test Championship.

"We want to climb the ladder with the One-day side in preparation for the 2007 World Cup but we have made progress in recent years."

Australian wicket-keeping great Rodney Marsh, currently director of England's Academy and a national selector, is due to step down from both roles in October, having decided he wants to return home, and will be replaced at the Academy by former Sussex keeper turned coach Peter Moores.

But England are desperate to hang on to Duncan Fletcher, a key factor in their recent success with Collier saying he wanted the former Zimbabwe captain, who made his name off the field at South Africa's Western Province before joining England's Welsh County Glamorgan, to still be the national side's coach at the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean.

"We highly respect Duncan. He has become an integral part of English cricket and we believe he is one of the best coaches in the world," Collier insisted. "We see his long-term future with the ECB."

Among the other announcements arising out of the ECB's "strategic review" were plans for the creation of a 25-man England development squad.

And the ECB also want to make additional investment in England teams, recreational and schools cricket and introduce performance-related payments for Counties based upon the number of England-qualified, as opposed to overseas, players in their teams.

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