Fletcher owns up to team selection blunders
ENGLAND coach Duncan Fletcher admits he made mistakes at the selection table this Ashes series but denies the tourists’ spirit has deserted them.
After four harrowing Test defeats to Australia and a string of decision-making blunders, Fletcher admitted he and captain Andrew Flintoff had erred when picking England sides in their roles as the tour selectors.
Although he would not ad- mit to any specific selection calls, the major selections England came under fire for this series were overlooking spinner Monty Panesar for the first two Tests and wicketkeeper Chris Read for the first three.
The folly of favouring Ashley Giles over Panesar was shown in Perth, where Panesar took eight wickets.
Read impressed with the gloves and made 26 not out in the second innings in M e l b o u r n e w h e n h e replaced Geraint Jones, who failed with the bat in the first three Tests.
‘‘We’ve made some mistakes and we will reflect on it when we get back after the tour, like we do any other series,’’ Fletcher said.
Fletcher insisted the spirit in the team remained strong despite being beaten by an innings and 99 runs at the MCG.
He admitted England had let their legion of fans down this summer by losing all the Tests but said it was unfair to accuse the players of not giving their best.
‘‘You go into the change room and see how despondent they were (after the fourth Test defeat),’’ he said.
‘‘If they weren’t trying then I’d say they’ve let us down but they’re trying their damndest.’’
On the pain scale, England are still short of their worst loss in recent times as Fletcher said he had experienced worse defeats than Australia’s three-day hammering in Melbourne.
He nominated the loss to South Africa by an innings and 92 runs at Lord’s in 2003, i n wha t wa s Mi c h a e l Vaughan’s first Test as captain, as the worst defeat of his coaching career.
But Fletcher was still confident England could lift for the fifth Test in Sydney, as the tourists did four years ago when they won at the SCG to prevent a series whitewash.