Sports Agenda: Fletcher still gets Morgan’s backing


Last updated at 22:39 29 December 2006

England coach Duncan Fletcher, despite his team’s on-going humiliation Down Under, was somehow still talking on Friday about making his own decision after the World Cup about how long he would stay in the job.

In the other major England team sports of football and rugby, making such a statement after presiding over a shambles as total as the Ashes debacle would result in him being ridiculed from all quarters.

Yet Fletcher still seems to have the support of the England and Wales Cricket Board hierarchy while he has the added security of being a senior staff member of the ECB, with a one-year notice clause in his contract.

He was given this privilege three years ago to strengthen his long-term future with the England team and dampen speculation about him moving on.

It is the International Team Management Group, chaired by Dennis Amiss, who will review England’s performances this winter. In reality the two ECB powerbrokers, chairman David Morgan and chief executive David Collier, will be the ones to show Fletcher the exit sign if they so wish.

But Morgan said yesterday: "I don’t think what’s gone wrong in Australia should be laid entirely at Duncan Fletcher’s door. There’s a lot of cricket still to be played this winter and I’m not pessimistic about the World Cup.

"I respect Duncan as a thoroughly good manager who is very easy to deal with."

Off the buses, on the plane

Cricket Australia’s attention to detail is such that Geoff Goodwin, boss of the Altrincham coach company that drives the Aussie team around England on tours, has been invited to Sydney to watch the fifth Test as their guest.

Goodwin says his allegiances at the SCG will be "50-50". He is chairman of non-League Altrincham FC where Aussie wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist is one of the shareholders.

A Knight down under

Roger Knight, the recently retired chief executive of the MCC who ran the organisation like the school headmaster he used to be, is planning to get as far away from Lord’s as possible.

Knight has bought a plot of land in New Zealand where he is intending to live.

Staggering lengths to protest

The Melbourne Cricket Ground is a long way from Mansfield, but fans of the struggling League Two side chose it as the place to demonstrate about the club’s owner Keith Haslam.

One St George’s flag displayed at the MCG during the fourth Test bore the message "Haslam out", which caused some controversy as ground officials at first mistook it as being an anti-Islamic statement.

Fans are just barmy

After England’s woeful Ashes performances Down Under, you would expect the Barmy Army by now to be screaming for coach Duncan Fletcher’s head.

Instead they will give England even more support they don’t deserve from greater numbers in Sydney.

BA leader Paul Burnham said: "We’re not football fans, we’re intelligent followers of cricket and realise how difficult it is to win in Australia. We’re sympathetic not critical."

Meanwhile, BA trumpeter Bill Cooper was barred from performing in the second Test at Adelaide only to receive an invitation a few days later to join the Adelaide Police band.

Boycott should take it easier

BBC Sport see Geoff Boycott as so integral now to their cricket coverage that they want him as a pundit on every match at the World Cup, either in the studio or at the ground.

But the outspoken Boycs, aware he is only four years into remission from throat cancer, needs to pace himself for health reasons from too heavy a commitment in the Caribbean.

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