Cricket: Fletcher confident about the future

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The Independent Online
KEITH FLETCHER is confident he can form a successful partnership with England's new chairman of selectors, Ray Illingworth.

Illingworth's appointment could be viewed as a deliberate attempt by county forces to undermine Fletcher's authority. But England's manager, who is less than half-way through a five-year contract, said: 'I'm perfectly happy to work with Illy. We'll have to sort out the lines of demarcation but I cannot see any problems. We get on well - we're mates - and there is certainly room for both of us. I believe we think along exactly the same lines and I'm sure we'll be having a chat on the phone over the next few days.'

Fletcher played under Illingworth's leadership when England went to Australia in 1970/71. 'I rated Illy a very good captain,' the former middle-order batsman said. 'He was a shrewd cricketer and I have talked to him quite a bit since I've been doing this job.'

Illingworth will expect to adopt a hands-on approach to the job and that is where he and Fletcher could collide. Fletcher voices no concern. 'I'm sure Illy will be welcome in the dressing-room and that we'll be on the same wavelength,' he said.

'When it comes to selecting a team, though, I believe the captain has to have the side he wants. I would imagine Illy feels the same way. We can advise and the chairman, manager and captain should work as a team. But if the skipper wants a certain player he should get him.'

'I would think he will want to watch cricket every day of the week,' Fletcher said. 'He's been quite a long time out of the game.'

Fletcher was told of Illingworth's appointment by the tour manager, Mike Smith, as England prepared to travel from Trinidad to Guyana. Smith had been the early favourite to succeed Dexter but he took the result stoically.

'Illy got the nod and good luck to him,' Smith said. 'We are all on the same side - wanting a winning England team.'