Coach Fletcher should step down: Boycott

Published: Monday, October 23, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Advocating a change in the England dressing room following their disastrous show in the ongoing Champions Trophy, former captain Geoffrey Boycott said it was high time that coach Duncan Fletcher resigned from his job as his 'shelf-life' had expired.

England have lost both their group matches against India and England by heavy margins and are virtually out of the competition with just one more league game left against West Indies.

''Saturday's latest one-day debacle has confirmed my feeling that the time has come for a change in the England dressing room. The coach, Duncan Fletcher, has now been with this team for seven years.

The job comes with a shelf-life. And Fletcher has just reached the end of his,'' Boycott, referring to England's pathetic display in the six-wicket loss to Australia last week, wrote in his column for the 'Daily Telegraph'.

The former Yorkshire player, however, clarified that he did not consider Fletcher a bad coach and credited him for imrpoving England's Test side. The former captain said Fletcher had now run out of ideas and it wouldn't be surprising to know that the English team has stopped taking him seriously.

''I'm not saying he is a terrible coach. In fact, I think he has done a good job - full marks to him for the way he made England's Test team competitive after the dark days of the 1990s.'' ''But, after a while, I believe a coach runs out of new ideas and the players get comfortable and complacent with him. He almost becomes too familiar and the players stop listening,'' he explained.

Boycott said Fletcher has always struggled to put together the one-day side for England and blamed him for not improving the team's batting display. Boycott said Fletcher has failed to raise the level of England's batting.

''Fletcher's weakness has always been the one-day game, and there have been some madcap decisions here in India. It is ludicrous that England have failed to bat through their 50 overs in either of their two matches to date.'' ''The whole basis of one-day cricket is batting. It is the total opposite of Test match cricket, where you need top-notch bowlers to take 20 wickets. And yet, England still keep failing to bat through their overs. I find it astonishing,'' he said.

Boycott said Fletcher was tinkering with the batting order too often without managing a decent result and his recent attempts have only back-fired.

''Clearly, the batsmen need to look at their own games, but Fletcher has not helped them with some bizarre batting orders. For a start, what is he doing with Michael Yardy? This is a left-arm spinner with just a handful of internationals to his name. And he went in at number three against India and number five against Australia. It's crazy,'' Boycott said.

The former captain said the decision to send Andrew Flintoff at number three in the game against Australia was also a bizzare one considering that the skipper was returning after an injury without any worthwhile match practice.

''England have Andrew Flintoff batting at number three. He hasn't played for months, so he's rusty, and they still experiment by pushing him up two places. If you're going to experiment with somebody, do it when they're in great form, not completely out of practice,'' he pointed out.

Boycott, in a scathing criticism of the game's administrators in England, said the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) should take the current ODI debacles of the team seriously and seek a replacement for Fletcher. Otherwise, the former captain warned, Andrew Flintoff's men would be no-hopers for both the Ashes and next year's World Cup.

''David Morgan (chairman of the national cricket board) may think Fletcher has a job for life, but that is just a recipe for stagnation. The time to move on is now. The dressing room needs some new personnel with fresh ideas and the ability to stimulate the players. When England have got knocked out of this tournament, struggled in the Ashes and gone out of the World Cup, I'll be telling people: 'You read it here first','' he signed off.


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