Bright future brings smile out of Fletcher

Thoughts of what England can yet accomplish inspire coach to dream of a long innings

As he prepared last week for his 12th England Test tour, Duncan Fletcher displayed the enthusiasm and appetite which usually accompany the first. This may not be a side of his character on permanent public exhibition, but in expressing relish for the job as England's coach he also dropped the broadest hint that there may be many more to come.

"I have never had long-term plans," he said. "I have always looked six or nine months down the road. If I feel I have got something to offer then I will continue. After last summer, hell, not to have enjoyed that... I am still keen to do it, lots of areas interest me from the point of view of trying to improve individuals' cricket. That's the part I really enjoy about the game."

The general consensus, without Fletcher saying anything, has usually been that he will depart after the 2007 World Cup. He will be approaching 59 then and the quadrennial tournament has begun to provide a natural break in cricketing lives. But the other way of looking at it is that he would be only 63 years old by the time of the World Cup after that.

It is clear that he loves players, and his strength is that he can spot their strengths, and therefore their weaknesses. He rarely becomes animated since that is not his way, but occasionally he cannot stop himself. In talking about England's fast- bowling stocks, for instance, he said: "I am comfortable with it. I was very pleased with what happened in our last one-day game in Pakistan, which was a very good game for us.

"It was along the lines of what happened when we clinically beat Australia at Edgbaston in the Champions' Trophy. The way Jimmy Anderson and Liam Plunkett bowled under huge pressure against some big hitters and held their nerve, you just thought, hold on, there's something there. And there are a couple of others in the background, definitely one other. I am not going to talk about him here but he is definitely quite exciting."

By now, he realised he had probably said too much, but it was instructive that his enthusiasm for the game had provoked him into going so far. Speculation has now begun about who he had in mind. Sajid Mahmood, Stuart Broad and Mark Footitt will always be looked at more carefully from now on.

The Ashes having been recaptured, Fletcher might be forgiven for walking away. What else is there? He bridled. "Winning is important, I don't care who you're playing. It's really easy to lose. We want to beat India in India. Winning the Ashes was a great achievement, but they haven't done everything they want to do in their cricketing careers. I know I haven't as a coach and I know they haven't."

Of course, he not only has to retain his own enthusiasm for the game and the life out of a suitcase that it entails, but also that of his charges.

Age lends a natural distance. But in his seven years as coach some 56 players have represented England, and while a hefty handful might carp that they were given insufficient opportunity, the vast majority recognise his worth. Look at the results.

At present, Fletcher, like his captain, Michael Vaughan, is lord of all he surveys. At the weekend, interviews were being held for the fast-bowling coach to replace Troy Cooley. A panel was selected for the task but there is little doubt that Fletcher will get the man he wants.

Fletcher still attracts some criticism for his stern countenance - which he has famously put down to the Fletcher family jowls - and it is a safe bet that as the India tour wears on he will not always be Jolly Jack Tar.

He always gives the impression, or at least the impression is conveyed on his behalf, that he does not play the media game. This is not quite true. He can be candid, as he was about Vaughan's recent knee surgery, which he must be aware will be interpreted as a scare story. "He's very confident of what he can do, but that injury is always going to be a concern with Michael because it's not the first time it's happened. It might be a recurring injury for the rest of his career, then again it might not."

And he was quite willing to be a trifle mischievous about Australia and the Ashes later in the year. "They're a very, very good side and they've proved it. One area they might have to look at is Warne and McGrath, two huge players of experience. If they lose those two guys, who'll fill the gaps?" It was just a little ploy to plant some doubt by a coach who has been around a long time and may be around for a long time yet.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week