Saturday, June 07, 2008

Misstra Know It All

I've just finished reading 'Behind the Shades' by Duncan Fletcher.

It's a good read and I'd recommend it as being a fascinating glimpse into what actually goes on behind the scenes in the England set up.

The tone is one of self-justification, which bearing in mind the abuse that was heaped on Fletcher at times during his time as England coach, and especially in the last year, is entirely understandable.

There are some wonderful instances where he exposes the idiocies of some of the supposedly 'respected' commentators on English cricket. He's particularly scathing about Sir Geoffrey, for example, and this little excerpt about Ian Botham is wonderful, frightening and eye-opening all at the same time -

It's quite a skill to be able to identify (promising) players, and just because you have been a great player does not necessarily mean that you can do it. Take Ian Botham. I thought would ask his advice before the South Africa trip. 'Get rid of all the guys like Atherton, Caddick and Tufnell' he told me.
'Why?' I asked.
'Because they are too old. Go with youth' he replied.
'Who then?' I asked.
'Graeme Hick and Robin Smith', he said.
'But hold on , they are the same age', I replied in exasperation.
His reply I could not then believe. 'But they are different' he said.
That was the last time I used Botham for selectoral advice.

One final thought - it's clear from the book, that John Buchanan and Ricky Ponting absolutely hated Fletcher, because they saw him as the biggest threat to their dominance over England. England had a fully fit line up in 2005, and won. In 2006/07 they had a host of injuries to key players, and a captain who was quite happy to spend the whole night drinking with the aforementioned Botham until seven in the morning. (It's in the book - honest!) Surprise, surprise - they got stuffed. I doubt whether Ponting, or anyone in Australian cricket, is losing much sleep over Peter Moores.


Mark said...

Atherton and Caddick - born in 1968.
Tuffers abnd Hick - born in 1966
Smith - born in 1963.

Jrod said...

Not sure if Ponting was all that worried about Fletcher, more the reverse swing, the injury to McGrath and the loss of form to Gillespie.

D.S. Henry said...

That McGrath injury was key... I doubt England would've won without it.

Mark said...

England lined up all their bells in that series.

Some were down to luck (McGrath's injuries, Ponting putting them in at Edgbaston, a couple of shocking LBW decisions) and some (more) were down to hard work and skill (Freddie channeling Superman for the series, Simon Jones and reverse swing)

Above all, there was Fletcher and Vaughan, and the belief that they instilled in the side that they could and would win - and Fletcher's tactical skill, and the importance of utilising every possible advantage to its maximum.