Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2007 March 28, 2007

'Fletcher must go' - Engel

Cricinfo staff

The 2007 Wisden Cricketers Almanack © Wisden

The England coach Duncan Fletcher must be replaced, whatever happens in the World Cup, according to Matthew Engel, the Wisden editor. In his notes, Engel praises Fletcher's leadership over the past seven years but adds "it is time for renewal, and there can be no renewal without change at the top".

Engel said England's 2006-07 Ashes loss was not a disgrace. "It is 36 years now since England last won an away series against a full-strength Australian side," he said. "The manner of it was disgraceful. England were at once worn out but under-prepared; complacent yet over-apprehensive; inward-looking yet dysfunctional as a unit; closeted yet distracted."

Engel said the "England bubble", in which Fletcher protected his players against outside distractions, had helped create the conditions for the team's earlier triumphs. "But there are problems living inside a bubble. Eventually the oxygen runs out. And if this one began as the Eden Project, it turned this winter into something like the Big Brother house.

"Accurate information rarely seeped out; it also stopped seeping in. Even experts have to keep listening and learning; Fletcher, on the evidence of the 2006-07 Ashes, just stopped."

In the wide-ranging notes, Engel touches on John Betjeman, Ashby-de-la-Zouch and "incomprehensible" scoreboards. And he also attacks England stars Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff for displaying their tattoos, thus inevitably encouraging young admirers to imitate them.

Wisden 2007, which is released today, is published in Australia by Hardie Grant