November 29, 2001

Fletcher: The side has improved with every match

Former Zimbabwe captain and England's most successful coach in recent times, Duncan Fletcher almost sported a grin. A man very obviously committed to his work, Fletcher almost perpetually bears the look of a schoolmaster who has caught a schoolboy in the midst of some mischievous prank. After England's first tour victory over an India 'A' side, Fletcher answered a variety of questions posed to him. Never saying an extra word or entering into undue controversy, he kept his sights trained firmly on the most important matter at hand - the cricket.

On England's victory over India 'A':

We pulled ourselves back well in this match. Even this morning it was a tricky situation. If the India 'A' batsmen had gotten away from us, set a stiffer target, and put men around the bat for longer periods, it could have been pretty difficult. It wasn't an easy wicket to bat on. People like Nasser Hussain and Andrew Flintoff, who batted for a bit, said that they never felt like they were really settled on that wicket.

On the wickets that the team has played on thus far:

I believe the two wickets we've played on haven't really been good preparation for any Test match. The first wicket was far too flat and low, and our batters never got going. This is another wicket where the batsmen really struggled.

On whether the team management would lodge an official complaint on the state of wickets:

We don't want to get into those sort of things. As I said, we are here to play cricket. It is the same wicket for both sides, you know. All we can say is that it was not a good wicket to bat on.

On Andrew Flintoff's performance on arrival:

To come here and bowl quick on a wicket like this was tremendous. It is exciting to see, and he is beginning to show just how dangerous a batsman he can be. He can take the initiative away from the bowlers. He is a confident player; you can see it when it is his turn to bat, and he gets out to the middle very quickly. He is very positive and good to have in the side.

On the controversy of Virender Sehwag's inclusion in the squad for the first Test:

It is a slight distraction, but they are professional cricketers. There has been some mention of it in the changing rooms, but, no, there have not been any huge discussions. But then again, if that is the kind of distraction that gets us a win, maybe we should have more such distractions and hopefully more wins. We have a difficult task ahead of us over here, and it is important that the guys think about that. Sometimes things like this can rev a side up.

On whether he has been in touch with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) regarding the recent controversy:

No, I haven't really been in touch with Lord's. As I said before, it is our job to play cricket, and that is what we will do. If the ECB 'phones us and tells us to take the next flight back, we will do that.

On how the England team has done thus far:

The side has improved with every match. Today is the first day we haven't played in patches. We have done that so far. Except for the back end, where you are always under a lot of pressure, and the wicket wasn't helpful. I think we played well today. We have improved.