Former coach takes aim at Botham's 'unbelievable' views October 30, 2007

Fletcher blasts Botham's influence

Cricinfo staff



Duncan Fletcher on Ian Botham: 'He thinks the players listen to him, but they do not' © Martin Williamson

Ian Botham had an unhealthy influence on Andrew Flintoff and has long caused difficulties in the England set-up, according to England's former coach Duncan Fletcher in the latest extract of his autobiography, Behind the Shades.

"It did worry me that Botham influenced Andrew Flintoff far too much on that [2006-07] Ashes tour," Fletcher wrote. Although the pair are good friends - Botham has long been a hero of Flintoff - Fletcher said that other members of the England side don't hold him in the same high regard.

"He thinks the players listen to him, but they do not," Fletcher said. "Often you would go into the dressing-room and hear the players in exasperation saying things like: 'Have you heard what Botham is saying about the wicket?' Botham's commentary has long caused problems."

After England's match against Canada in the World Cup, England were invited by Rod Bransgrove - the Hampshire chairman - onto his boat for a party. "In the dressing room...Kevin Pietersen, who knows Bransgrove well from Hampshire, was asking the other players who was going on the boat," Fletcher wrote. "At least four or five of the senior players asked: 'Is Botham going?'

"Pietersen found out Botham was indeed going and, when he relayed this in the dressing-room, a unanimous call of 'no thanks' rang out. None of the players went. For once they were standing up to someone in the media."

Fletcher and Botham's relationship "deteriorated over time", and tensions between the pair were constantly kindled by Botham's "unbelievable" views. "Back in 2004 in Jamaica, Sky called a meeting with Michael Vaughan and me, intended to improve the relationship between the broadcasters and the team," Fletcher wrote. "Present at a restaurant, owned by a relation of Michael Holding, were Holding himself, executive producer Barney Francis and David Lloyd.

"It was interesting that Botham was not there because most of the conversation centred around him as he appeared the one obstacle to improving the relationship. Some critics said he was inconsistent in his thoughts and did not do enough investigative work before a day's commentary."

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