Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Bye Bye Duncan


We here at The Match Referee have been warning you of the fate of the English cricket team and it's coach for some time yet. We implored Duncan Fletcher to play Monty Panesar ahead of Ashley Giles right from the first Test. Even Stuart MacGill got in the act. Alas, to no avail. Fletcher went ahead and shot himself in the foot by inexplicably dropping Chris Read, Monty Panesar and Saj Mahmood.

We also spelled out what would happen if England lost The Ashes, and sure enough the tough questions are being asked and the feeble answers given.

15 months ago Duncan Fletcher received heady praise for guiding the Poms to their first Ashes victory in half a generation. There was not a peep from him about how it was a joint effort between he and his players. Now that all his plays have backfired and resulted in three losses from three matches, we are being told that the blame should be shared.

Duncan Fletcher, that is pure and utter rubbish. Your players have given their all in a series that has been a lot closer than the results portray. They and your captain have been let down by your unfortunate penchant to favour certain players. Had you put the right personnel on the park at the outset, you may still be in with a show of taking The Ashes back home.

Fletcher wants us to believe that he should stay in top job because,
"I still have the players' confidence, they still come to me on numerous occasions and still talk to me about tactics. I have the respect of the players and that's very important."
The players come to you because it is your job to provide help and advice. You are the coach on tour and they have nobody else to turn to. The mere fact that they ask you a question does not imply that they do no believe somebody else is better suited for the job and it certainly should not be a factor in judging your performance over this series.

In a clear sign that reality has not yet caught up with Fletcher, he has told journalists that would not have changed the team for the first two Tests. The mark of a truly legendary tactician is to realise and admit his mistakes. Fletcher has proven himself to be no more than a mediocre tactician who had great captains in Vaughan and Hussain to paper over his shortcomings.

It is unfortunate that the English had to see their team humiliated in this fashion. It was up to Fletcher to cover some of the leadership slack felt by the team in Vaughan's absence. Results show beyond any doubt, that he has not been up to the task.

It is high time Duncan Fletcher bit the bullet and spared us of the his drivel about players' respect and six-month moving windows. Call a spade, a spade and cop genuine criticism on the chin. That is all English fans want.


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