ECB set to call time today on Fletcher's reign
The England and Wales Cricket Board appears set to end its seven-and-a-half-year association with Duncan Fletcher today.
Fletcher's position as England coach has come under enormous pressure following the side's dismal performances this winter and David Morgan, the chairman of the ECB, is expected to announce his departure this afternoon.
Morgan spent much of yesterday in discussion with John Carr, the director of cricket operations at the ECB, while Fletcher played golf with Michael Vaughan, the England captain, at the Royal Westmoreland Golf Club in Barbados. When asked why Fletcher had chosen to play golf rather than explain England's dreadful showing at the World Cup, where they were knocked out by South Africa on Tuesday, team spokesman Andrew Walpole said: "We are aware of the issues that are being discussed and we feel the best time to deal with that is on Thursday. The best person to deal with it is David Morgan. We have not asked the coach to speak, I am not going to explain why."
Fletcher took over as England coach in September 1999 and guided the team to unprecedented success in 2004, when they won 11 and drew two of the 13 Tests they played. But it was in 2005, when England won the Ashes for the first time in 18 years, that Fletcher achieved his greatest feat.
But the England team have failed to move forward since defeating Australia 20 months ago, winning only one major series since.
England's 5-0 thumping in this winter's Ashes and the team's unimpressive showing at the World Cup have led people to believe that a fresh voice and ideas are needed to rejuvenate a dressing-room containing many talented young players.
In the 96 Tests Fletcher presided over, England won 42 and lost 31. He found one-day cricket a far tougher game to crack, winning just 74 of the 162 games England played during his time in charge.
Brian Rose, Somerset's director of cricket who was appointed to the panel established to review the Ashes débâcle, yesterday insisted the team's one-day strategy needs a complete rethink. "Other sides are more aggressive," Rose said. "We don't seem to have taken the game forward in comparison. We have to come up quickly with a philosophy of how to play."
Rose and his colleagues on the panel - Nasser Hussain, Nick Knight, myself, Hugh Morris, Mickey Stewart and the former head of the European golf tour Ken Schofield - have been reviewing England's displays over the last four years, including the recent Ashes humbling.
Rose said details of the review should remain confidential until it is published next month, and he refused to single out Fletcher. "The comparison between England one-day performances and the Test team over the last few years is black and white. But you just can't target one bloke," Rose added.
The former England captain Alec Stewart came out in support of Fletcher. "He's been the best coach that I've worked under in an England set-up and he's taken English cricket forward.
"Just a couple of years ago everyone was singing his praises. I am more concerned about the way the players have played," Stewart said.
Bob Willis, another former England captain, called for Fletcher, the chairman of selectors, David Graveney, and Vaughan to be sacked. "Heads will roll and those heads should be Graveney, Fletcher and Vaughan, they've all got to go," Willis said.