Vaughan must remain captain - Fletcher
It has been over a year since Duncan Fletcher left as England coach, and although he has slipped quietly into the shadows, his views on English cricket remain as forthright as ever.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Guardian, Fletcher looks ahead to next year's Ashes series - and back to the last two against Australia which he coached England through - and insists that Michael Vaughan is the only plausible England captain who can help them regain the Ashes, for all the detractors' concerns over his wavering form with the bat.
"I can't see anyone else doing the job," he told the newspaper. "He is a very, very good captain. What sums him up is quite simple for me. Look at his performances against Australia [Vaughan averages nearly 48, with four hundreds]. I don't see how people can question him. He loves playing them, even though it's the toughest job in international cricket. But it's what he wants. He wants to take those guys on.
"Of all the injuries we suffered in 2006-07 Vaughan was the biggest loss. If you go to Australia you have to have a very experienced captain. We needed him there. If you go out with an inexperienced captain it's very difficult. The Australians respected him first of all as a captain and also as a batsman. He would have held that batting side together."
For all his crystal ball gazing, the painful 5-0 hammering England received in the last Ashes still tugs remorselessly at Fletcher. Injuries, he said, weren't necessarily the sole reason for Australia's utter dominance, but the absence of so many key players for England certainly affected their ability to challenge them on an even keel.
"I've never seen anyone write this," he said. "All I would like someone to do one day is sit down and say: if we'd been at full strength, and they were missing McGrath, Warne, Ponting and Hayden - that would be the equivalent of what happened to us - what would the result be? I'm not saying we had better players than them but our losses were huge.
"Look at Simon Jones. If he had developed further, who knows where he would have got to? I don't think we've seen the best of him. We knew what we were missing with Vaughan, Trescothick and Giles - they couldn't have got much better. But Simon Jones could have actually got better with the experience that he'd gained."
Looking ahead, Fletcher - who often plucked relative underachievers out of county cricket and put them onto the world stage, most notably Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick - spoke highly of Stuart Broad, England's coltish fast bowler and potential No.8.
"He's a very exciting character for England cricket. They can play around this guy because he's so strong mentally. England have got potential there but they've got to make sure they keep 11 fit players on the field. That's really been the problem."