Cricket: Fletcher defends dropping Gower

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KEITH FLETCHER yesterday outlined the strategy behind the controversial India tour omissions of David Gower and Jack Russell.

Fletcher, England's new manager, said it was vital to build for the future using players who were not necessarily more talented than England's leading Test run-scorer, Gower, or Russell.

Speaking at the end of the pre- tour training programme at Lilleshall, Fletcher said: 'You don't replace people for the sake of replacing them. And sometimes you don't pick other people who are necessarily better. Sometimes you pick players because they are close to what you want or because you believe they will be if they are given the opportunity.

'I believe that the ideal Test side turns itself around in about 11 years - and that means, in practice, that you have to bring on at least one new face each year.'

He added: 'You simply have got to be building for the future all the time - it's so easy to sit back and let a side get old together.

'I think that you have always got to be looking at the next year, and then the next - all the time thinking about how you want the side to look then.

'Continuity is very much part of building a team. You have got to keep bringing players on, so that they can slip easily into the team itself. You must never stop planning ahead.'

Fletcher has always stressed that Gower and Russell are still part of England's thinking although they are not in the tour party but is saddened by the MCC members who plan a revolt over the pair's omission.

A group of members have forced an MCC extraordinary meeting in late January to debate a vote of no confidence in the England selectors.

Fletcher said: 'I'm well aware everyone has different opinions but the people calling this meeting have got to respect our views, too. On the one hand you want a settled side comfortable with each other - but as management you must always be looking to replace, too.'