Wed, Dec 20, 2006 - Page 19 News List

England coach Fletcher defends his Ashes decisions

AP , PERTH, AUSTRALIA

England cricket coach Duncan Fletcher holds a bat during a training session in Ahmedabad, India, on Oct. 25.

PHOTO: AFP

The Ashes 2006/2007England cricket coach Duncan Fletcher has defended his side's Ashes preparation and said he -- and not England management -- could decide his future beyond next year's World Cup.

Despite losing the first three tests, Fletcher yesterday backed his side's controversial build-up to the tour, and again stood by England's selections, notably making Andrew Flintoff captain and overlooking spinner Monty Panesar.

Fletcher is under pressure to retain his position beyond next year's World Cup, and said he would spend part of the next six months deciding whether he wanted to extend his seven-year tenure.

"I'll just make up my own mind," he said. "It might be a move in six months. But I'll make up my mind. I'll have a look at where I've been and where I want to go ... and I'll continue in that way."

Fletcher has already met with England management following Monday's 206-run loss in the third test at the WACA Ground, but was adamant he still had the desire to continue coaching the side.

"From the coaching point of view I speak to the players and I still have their confidence," he said. "They still come to me on numerous occasions about tactics, even assistant coaches come and ask things, and I've got the respect of them and the players, and that's very, very important."

Opener Marcus Trescothick's exit from the tour with depression was the first of several major setbacks. Fletcher admitted he might have been poorly advised by medical specialists who gave the batsman the all-clear to tour.

"I'll have to reassess that when I get back," he said. "When I go back I will speak to the people concerned and discuss that matter."

Fletcher defended the controversial selections of Ashley Giles and wicketkeeper Geraint Jones over Panesar and Chris Read respectively, but refused to respond to a new report which claims he offered to the England and Wales Cricket Board to stand down from his role as selector.

"I can't discuss those things if I did or I didn't [offer to step aside]," he said. "Those kind of aspects you must discuss with the ECB. The system has worked ... this is the second series we've lost in 11 and we often hear out here, if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Meanwhile, injured Michael Vaughan had had a solid batting session in the England Academy's one-day match in Perth yesterday.

Playing against a West Australian second XI, Vaughan produced his best performance this tour with 14 runs from 32 balls.

Vaughan is expected to return to the England side for the one-day series next month before the World Cup in the Caribbean.

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