Fletcher puts emphasis on future talent

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The Independent Online

Duncan Fletcher yesterday reiterated that England plan to use this tour of Zimbabwe as a squad-building exercise ahead of the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.

"You can see from the make up of the side that we've chosen a very inexperienced side," the England coach said on the team's arrival in the Zimbabwe capital. "You want to win any game you go into, but we are hoping to have a look at some players now to try and settle on a squad that's going to take England through to the World Cup. It's about giving guys an opportunity to prove that they are good enough."

England's preparations for the tour were disrupted by injuries to the fast bowler James Ormond and all-rounder Craig White, who were replaced by Chris Silverwood and batsman Graham Thorpe.

"There are some guys we did want to have a look at and it's a pity they were injured," Fletcher said. "We wanted them to start gaining experience in specific roles we have for them.

"I think this is the problem with England cricket at the moment. Some of our players are so inexperienced at one-day cricket, and we were trying to get them into roles that they could gain that experience."

With Zimbabwe enduring political turmoil, the touring party was briefed on security shortly after checking into their hotel. "Other sides have come here and mentioned that they've enjoyed their cricket," Fletcher said. "That's really what we're here for – to enjoy our cricket and let other people look after the security."

England have a one-day warm-up match against Zimbabwe A here on Monday, followed by five limited-overs internationals against the senior team starting next Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the group investigating the pitch invasions that coloured the triangular one-day international series in England this summer has ruled out bringing in tough new laws, and also states the problem is not confined to fans of Pakistan alone.

The group has ruled out a move to introduce a system similar to the one used in Australia, where anyone who invades the playing area spends the night in gaol and is fined up to £1,700, saying that the current laws are tough enough and that special football-style legislation is not required.

They did recommend, however, that the police and cricket authorities keep the situation under constant review, and make supporters more aware on the punishment they will face.