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December 29, 2006
The Ashes have gone and the Melbourne Test went in three days, but the England coach Duncan Fletcher does not believe it was the worst performance of his coaching reign. Fletcher rated Michael Vaughan's first Test in charge as a lower point than the innings-and-99-run defeat at the MCG on Thursday, which gave Australia a 4-0 advantage.
England won the toss and batted but could cobble together only 159 and managed another 161 in the second innings. "I wouldn't say that's the worst we've played," Fletcher said as his team should have been starting the fourth day. "We haven't played as well as in previous Tests and series, but from our point of view we just didn't make enough runs on that first day. It was crucial to put in a better performance."
England have been speaking about improving since the first Test and they have only one more opportunity to avoid being the second side to lose an Ashes series 5-0. Despite the predicament Fletcher had no problems saying he was happy with the team. "They are trying their hardest," he said. "I've seen how disappointed they are."
Fletcher said England's innings-and-92-run loss to South Africa when Vaughan replaced Nasser Hussain in 2003 was his worst result as coach. "We really felt down after that," he said. "I can remember that very clearly."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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