Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Morgan Backing Under-Fire Coach

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Morgan Backing Under-Fire Coach

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID LLOYD

ENGLAND boss David Morgan has come to the defence of Duncan Fletcher fol lowing the fiercest criticism yet of a coach suddenly under close scrutiny.

Fletcher's comments in the wake of last weekend's Second Test thrashing by South Africa at Lord's did little to inspire public confidence for the rest of the series. When pressed on why England seemed less hungry than their opponents, Fletcher said: "I don't know, I haven't a clue."

But any adverse reaction to careless remarks like those was nothing compared to Geoff Boycott's blast yesterday.

"He seems to get away with murder," claimed the former England batsman, who is back ruffling feathers following a so far successful fight against throat cancer.

"He's the phantom coach, he just hides in the background.

"Whenever there's any publicity it's always 'shove the captain forward' but when the team plays well he takes the plaudits."

Boycott, speaking on BBC Radio Five Live, also accused Fletcher of doing "more to harm county cricket than anybody I know" because of his decision to rest star players between Tests.

"He's never played it, he doesn't understand it and he doesn't understand the passion we have for it," he added.

Fletcher doesn't often do himself many favours during formal media conferences.

Crucially, though, he has had the support and trust of the leading players throughout his four years as England coach - and, with 14 months of his current contract still to run, ECB chairman Morgan believes Fletcher has plenty more to offer.

"I'm a big supporter of Duncan and he is doing a fine job," said Morgan.

"When people suddenly say things are going badly they forget that so far in this calendar year England have won a Test against Australia (the final match of the Ashes series, in Sydney), beaten Zimbabwe 2-0 and won two one-day trophies.

"Now we are one down against South Africa but there are three Tests still to play.

"As a coach, I think Duncan Fletcher is superb at helping players to perform to their best and his record is a good one. I fully believe he's got a lot more to give. …

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