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Ex-players support Fletcher, say time not right for coach's ouster

Written by: Staff

London, Oct 25 (UNI) While Geoffrey Boycott's concerns about the state of English cricket have found support from many former players his call for coach Duncan Fletcher's ouster has not found any echo, with ex-captain Mike Gatting saying that onus lay on the players to help themselves out of their ODI slump.

''It may be that some of Fletcher's methods are coming back to haunt him. He has given the players so much time off over the last few years and now it is looking as though they have not played enough cricket to make themselves consistent in certain disciplines. But I wouldn't subscribe to the view that the coach should be changed at this moment,'' Gatting was quoted by the 'Telegraph' as saying.

''The most important thing is that the players work a bit harder.

Boycott mentioned the example of Steve Harmison, who has got to get his game together, but I'm sure Steve knows that. He doesn't want to let his team-mates down. The coach is there to help but ultimately the players need to help themselves,'' he added, asserting that the coach's role was limited.

Gatting's views were echoed by another former captain Bob Willis, who also blamed the ordinary domestic cricket played in England for their poor form in the international arena. Willis said the time was not right for England to dump Fletcher and called for a review only after next year's World Cup in West Inidies.

''The time to reappraise the situation is after the World Cup finishes in April. But I don't believe that anyone at the England and Wales Cricket Board has any thoughts about ditching Duncan. He has some very strong allies there. England's one-day form is an ongoing problem. Whether they pick mainly Test players or what I would call 'bits-and-pieces' players, it seems to make no difference to their inconsistent performances,'' he explained.

Meanwhile, England's first coach, Micky Stewart also supported Fletcher and said the incumbent was doing a fine job and blamed the side's recent poor record to injuries. Stewart felt the team management were also responsible for England's one-day woes as it never promoted the shorter version of the game seriusly in a country where Ashes is still ranked higher over a World Cup.

''The management have been guilty of not prioritising one-day cricket in the past, and that is a hard habit to get out of. You only have to look at the tour of South Africa two years ago. England won the Test series, and then even though Kevin Pietersen scored three centuries in the one-day series, the rest of the team seemed to be going through the motions.'' ''I read Boycott's piece and while I agreed with a lot of his points, such as questioning why (Paul) Collingwood was batting at No six, I think you have to remember that Duncan has done a magnificent job since he took over. Fletcher has been unlucky in that he has lost key players through injury,'' Stewart said.


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