We deserve more credit, says Fletcher

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The Independent Online

Tomorrow, England tackle the West Indies in the final of the ICC Champions' Trophy at The Oval, following a six-wicket demolition of Australia in the semi-final at Edgbaston.

For a coach whose team displayed an admirably aggressive, attacking approach this summer and are on the brink of winning an international tournament for the first time, Duncan Fletcher was remarkably defensive.

Tomorrow, England tackle the West Indies in the final of the ICC Champions' Trophy at The Oval, following a six-wicket demolition of Australia in the semi-final at Edgbaston. Michael Vaughan and his men are firing.

Yesterday, Fletcher conceded: "Winning the tournament would be tremendous for English cricket, but the whole way we have played this season has been important for England.

"Everyone thought New Zealand would beat us and we beat them comfortably, the same with the West Indies, and now having beaten Australia in the manner we did, people must sit down and say, 'Hold on, this side is making good progress'.

"When we beat New Zealand and the West Indies, it was said it was because they were just rubbish and on the way out. I think people haven't appreciated how well we have played. I don't think we were given the credit we deserved."

Fletcher puts the improvement down to two factors. "It stems from when we decided to do a lot of hard work on our game and realised the more you work off the field, the more you improve on it," he said. "And the second factor has been keeping the same side together. We did that with the Test side and now you can see it with this one-day side, which is settling down and getting experience.

"Take Paul Collingwood, he is an example. People doubted his ability and didn't appreciate that he didn't have much of a chance, he needed to play games.

"We have suddenly got our act together in the one-day set-up and we have said before with this young side there will be ups and downs. We had two good series last year against Pakistan and South Africa, we had a down in the NatWest [Series] this year. Then we comprehensively beat India, who are thought of as the big challenge to Australia."

"Now we have gone through to this final, which I am sure has created a huge interest, and I can only assume people are very excited about the way we are going. Beating Australia, especially in the way we did, was a major accomplishment. We showed there is some ability in this side."

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