Fletcher hits out at Gavaskar

Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, has flayed Sunil Gavaskar for his "derogatory" remarks about England's performance during their last tour of India, saying he had lost respect for Gavaskar after those comments.

In his book Ashes Regained - the Coach's Story', Fletcher said that Gavaskar had not appreciated how well England played in India, "especially as we were missing so many key players." He quotes Gavaskar as saying: "Why our cricket board is keen on having a five-Test series when England visit India next is beyond comprehension for, without the slightest doubt, they are the most unattractive and boring side to have played cricket in India."

"After these comments, I lost respect [for Gavaskar]," Fletcher said. He said the comments might have been made because "he had a problem with the English press rather than the cricket team."

Fletcher made the reference about Gavaskar after recalling remarks of Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive, about England's use of substitutes during the recent Ashes series. Speed reportedly told Radio Five Live: "I think Ricky Ponting has a point there. We need to be careful that we keep it under control, define what is acceptable and that the captains buy into that."

"This was not the first time I had been perturbed by remarks made by an ICC official," Fletcher said. "In 2003, Gavaskar made some particularly derogatory comments about the England team's performances in the recently finished series in India. He had described our approach as only being 'good for people suffering from insomnia'."

Fletcher goes on to quote Gavaskar as saying: "Thank God it was a three-Test series and not a five-Test one, for Indian cricket would have lost a great number of spectators seeing the fare dished out."

"This was strong stuff from Gavaskar," Fletcher said. "Completely unjust and out of order, though. I thought that we had done well in that three-Test series in India, which we had lost 1-0 with an under-strength side. So when I was asked for a comment about these remarks, I said just two things: `First, it's very important to realise that he is on the ICC panel and should have an unbiased opinion; and second, it is very sad when a good wine goes sour. I was very disappointed with Gavaskar."

However, Fletcher was full of praise for Gavaskar the player. "Often I would be asked who was the greatest player I had played against, and while I never thought I could answer that, I always said that Gavaskar was the one for whom I had the greatest amount of respect.

"As well as in India, he had scored hundreds away from home, and especially in the West Indies, where a lot of players who have been termed 'great' have struggled," Fletcher writes in his book. "He also scored all his runs without a seam attack to back him up, because it is all very well doing it when you have some quick men to bully the opposition."