14 May 2007

Botham criticises Fletcher's handling of the media

Ian Botham seems to find it difficult to give credit where credit is due. He's labelled Duncan Fletcher as "miserable" and "paranoid" when dealing with the media. It's a little like a small child that doesn't get his own way. Fletcher didn't give the media everything they wanted and instead focused on getting results from a team that didn't look on paper as if they could challenge the best in the world. I seem to remember Botham's handling of the press when he resigned the England captaincy before he was pushed as a little on the miserable side too.

Botham was at least able to say a few nice words about Fletcher before the criticism: "Duncan Fletcher did some extremely good things for the England cricket team but everyone has a shelf life but I'm afraid his had expired. England were going nowhere. There was no communication and at times I think Duncan took being miserable to a new level. You have to communicate with people. You have to be able to talk to the media and I think that Duncan didn't want to. In my opinion he was becoming paranoid about the media and what they were saying. That became a major concern and it possibly undermined his position in the team. He seemed totally withdrawn and you can't be like that.

I think the media take some of the blame for this - you only have to look at the way Sven-Goran Erikson was treated by the British media to understand why Fletcher may have been a little paranoid. So which came first - the chicken or the egg?

Can't we just thank Duncan Fletcher for a job well done? After all he took us from complete nobody's on the world cricket stage to a team that is second only to Australia in the Test Match rankings. Admittedly he couldn't replicate that success in ODI's, but we shouldn't hold that against him. Let's just thank Duncan Fletcher for working hard for England and leaving us in a hugely stronger position than when he started. As he has said himself, "One thing you can say is that when I got the job not many people wanted it. Now everyone's clamouring for it."

I know my praise is not worth anything compared to the views of Ian Botham, but thanks very much Duncan. If you go on to coach the West Indies, as Clive Lloyd wants you to, then good luck - that's an even harder task than the one you took with England 7 years ago.

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