Duncan Andrew Gwynne Fletcher
September 27, 1948, Salisbury (now Harare)
Left hand bat
Right arm fast medium
For the young Duncan Fletcher, one of five brothers in a ruggedly sporty Rhodesian farming family, just being at home was a team game. He grew up to become a combative allrounder, an ace fielder and a Zimbabwe captain.
He led from the front in the famous victory over Australia in the 1983 World Cup, but this was in the pre-Test era and he spent his days in systems management. At 45, his main claim to fame was having devised Zimbabwe's car registration system, but after moving gradually into coaching, he won trophies with Western Province and then Glamorgan. In 1999 he became the first foreigner to coach England, and the first non-Test player.
He was still sufficiently unknown for an ECB official to greet him at his interview with the words "Hello, Dav". But Fletcher soon established his style: terse with the media, good at one-to-ones with players, hot on efficiency (woe betide anyone who is late for the team bus) and instinctively in tune with the captain Nasser Hussain, whom he had never met before. He breathed life into tired fielding routines, took shrewd punts on Marcus Trescothick and Craig White, steered England from the bottom of the Test table to third, and won widespread respect.
The relationship continued when Michael Vaughan took charge in 2003 and, after a draw against South Africa and a defeat away to Sri Lanka, the team embarked on a supreme run of results. Fletcher helped mastermind series wins away to West Indies (the first in 36 years) then a repeat win at home after whitewashing New Zealand. The challenges got harder, but still Fletcher's England conquered them as South Africa were downed 2-1 in a series that deserved more epic status that it received. England's one-day form, which has gone backwards while the Test side made huge strides, was the only major blot on Fletcher's CV. However, the pinnacle was just around the corner. In the summer of 2005 the Ashes returned to England and Fletcher was feted along with the rest of the squad in transforming English cricket.
He was awarded an OBE in the New Year's honours list and the team appeared ready to chase the No. 1 Test position. However, results since have gone dramatically downhill - a brave draw in India and 3-0 victory over Pakistan not withstanding - and the 5-0 Ashes whitewash was his nadir. Serious criticisms were levelled at Fletcher's ongoing faith in players with no form and little cricket behind them and the man who had done more than most to transform the game's fortunes faced his first major crisis.
Typically, he rode out the storm and by the time England had won the CB Series one-day trophy, his fortunes were looking up. But a dismal World Cup campaign made his position almost untenable and it was no surprise when he resigned after England had been knocked-out. The consensus seemed to be that he would be remembered as an excellent coach, but one that stayed too long. Fletcher was signed up to coach India in April 2011, succeeding Gary Kirsten.
Cricinfo staff April 2011
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