Fletcher's belief fired by Arctic explorer

England's unexpected but welcome success in Australia highlights how fickle one-day cricket can be. Two- and-a-half weeks ago, in the wake of the team's humiliating nine-wicket defeat to Australia in Adelaide, England's World Cup plans appeared to be in tatters.

But now, after three majestic wins over the world champions, there is a belief by many that England could possibly surprise everyone and win international cricket's biggest prize in Barbados on 28 April. The team who outplayed Australia will be strengthened by the return of Michael Vaughan, Kevin Pietersen and James Anderson, and with the confidence and momentum gained, who knows?

Prior to the team's doomed Ashes campaign it was Ricky Ponting's side who had been labelled as "Dad's Army", but the introduction of Paul Nixon and Malachy Loye to the England's one-day series line-up, and rumours that Darren Gough was about to be drafted into the World Cup squad, made Corporal Jones seem cool, calm and collected under pressure when compared to the nation's selectors.

But after watching their bag of Liquorice Allsorts turn into an embossed box of truffles, this group have every right to sit back in an armchair and look down on their critics. The only problem for the selectors is that the World Cup begins in a month's time and nobody can be sure which England side will turn up.

One of the attractions of one-day cricket is that there is no middle ground. Everything is black and white. You either win or lose. Emotions are immediate and raw, and the game's helter-skelter nature causes even the most composed of men to panic. These are factors that ensure crowds continue to flock in.

There are formulas that work and the best team normally leave as victor, but results are far more unpredictable than Test cricket. This is because one player can change the course of a limited-over game, whereas it takes at least three or four to manufacture a Test win. Ed Joyce performed this task in Sydney 11 days ago and Paul Collingwood continued the fine work in England's last three games.

When a team get on a winning roll they believe they can triumph from any situation, yet when defeat becomes the norm negative thoughts spread through the side like a highly contagious disease. Somewhere among all of this somebody has to try to keep a level head, and for England, in the absence of Vaughan, the responsibility lies with Duncan Fletcher, the coach.

After the Adelaide disaster, Fletcher was being told by the British public to pack his bags and catch the next flight back to Cape Town. The criticism hurt but he gained support from Alan Chambers, the former Royal Marine and adventurer, who led the first unsupported walk to the North Pole from Canada.

Fletcher used Chambers to deliver an inspirational, leadership and team building talk to his side before the 2005 Ashes and he has kept in regular contact with him since. "I am quite philosophical about[the criticism]," Fletcher said. "Alan Chambers has been very good to me. He has sent me a few emails and he has been the most positive person to speak to me on tour.

"We call him the iceman and he gave me a great statement by the late Mother Teresa. From that I've just looked at it all and you can see what's happened. His statement was basically this: 'Mother Teresa said that when you're successful you win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies'. I'll leave it at that." So it was inevitable that he wore an air of smugness when he spoke about his side's success.

"If you are a positive coach, you wouldn't think otherwise," said Fletcher in response to a question asking whether he thought the turnaround was possible after Adelaide. "If you are a coach and you believe in your players, you believe they can do anything. It rates as one of the best wins we've had in my time, considering where we were and where we've ended up.

"With young players you don't know what the limit is. I've often seen young sides put it together. These young guys can do it. I sat watching them make basic mistakes, but I knew the potential was there.

"It was tremendous. I had belief in the youngsters. I said it was an area where they could grow and they showed it in these four games. I also believe there is still a huge improvement to be made. Hopefully, they can produce that at the World Cup.

"Four wins have lifted the side. Nobody can deny that. To beat Australia, what I like about it is that they have been solid performances. We could have scrambled in with overthrows and the last ball of the game and not deserved to win. But you can't turn round after those four games and say that we did not deserve to win all four. They have been top-class performances.

"I've said before that maybe the World Cup was a year too early for them, but suddenly they've done something and I don't know where we are. Maybe it is six months too early. Or we might get to the World Cup, do something, and say we are bang on target."

Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before