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Last Updated: Monday, 12 September 2005, 19:45 GMT 20:45 UK
England's success story
England coach Duncan Fletcher
As England basks in Ashes glory all and sundry will be quick to acclaim Andrew Flintoff, Michael Vaughan, Kevin Pietersen and Co.

After a summer in which the country has gone cricket crazy the players have become box office and will be hailed as heroes on Tuesday's victory parade through London.

But while they soak in the spotlight of success after winning the Ashes for the first time since 1987, there will be one key man happy to avoid the limelight.

Coach Duncan Fletcher has helped the players fulfil their potential with careful nurturing of talent and cumulative changes behind the scenes that have led to victory over Australia just seven years after England were being mocked as the worst Test team in the world.

The nadir came against New Zealand at The Oval in 1999 - an 83-run defeat consigning them to that unwanted title and a host of mocking barbs.

The only way was up. Cue Fletcher to start the revolution.

The Zimbabwean has reaped the reward for his hard work with a side that has flourished and come full circle in the six years between Oval outings.

ENGLAND UNDER FLETCHER
2000
South Africa (away): 1-2
Zimbabwe (home): 1-0
West Indies (home): 3-1
2001
Sri Lanka (away): 2-1
Pakistan (home): 1-1
Australia (home): 1-4
India (away): 0-1
2002
New Zealand (away): 1-1
Sri Lanka (home): 2-0
India (home): 1-1
2003
Australia (away): 1-4
Zimbabwe (home): 2-0
South Africa (home): 2-2
Bangladesh (away): 2-0
Sri Lanka (away): 0-1
2004
West Indies (away): 3-0
New Zealand (home): 3-0
West Indies (home): 4-0
2005
South Africa (away): 2-1
Bangladesh (home): 2-0
Australia (home): 2-1
Fletcher's start was ominous, with England 2-4 within 17 balls of the opening game of his tenure in South Africa.

But even in that situation the seeds were being sewn for the future.

A gritty innings by debutant Vaughan helped England out of their hole and showed that Fletcher had an eye for young talent.

Vaughan, like a number of England's present team, was drafted in despite not having the weight of runs on the county circuit that players required for a call-up in previous eras.

Fletcher had seen something in the 25-year-old that he thought could be translated to the international arena and his faith was rewarded, as it has been more recently with the likes of Simon Jones and Andrew Strauss.

Those same players have also benefited from greater consistency in selection.

Going into the last match before Fletcher took over, England made five changes.

This summer, but for the injury to Simon Jones, they would have played five Tests without any.

No longer do England's selectors trawl the county circuit for men in form before dispatching them back after a run of low scores and no longer is a new face in the dressing room greeted by quizzical suspicion.

Fletcher and Cooley
Fletcher and Cooley have nurtured England
That security in selection has also helped create a Club England ethos and a team of genuine friends as well as sporting colleagues.

And that development was further embellished by the introduction of central contracts which meant England's premier players were not over-taxed by the daily grind of county cricket and came under the control of the ECB.

Newcomers, many of whom have been tutored in the ways of Fletcher's England at the Academy or in one-day matches, also enter a world in which no stone is left unturned in an effort to help them fulfil their potential and play to their strengths.

Vaughan turned to Fletcher for a one-on-one batting tutorial earlier in the summer when he was struggling for form.

The coach obliged, but bowling is another matter so Troy Cooley took the reins in helping developed a four-pronged pace attack of devastating ability.

Fletcher's eye for detail is fabled. He is a firm believer in technology and is often seen at a Test crouched over a laptop, pouring through facts and figures and the finer detail of the game.

Every player's strengths and weaknesses are analysed, but it is not just his own team under the microscope.

He will have taken as much pleasure from seeing England out-think Australia as he has from seeing them outplay them after concocting plans for each opposing batsman that have invariably been executed to perfection under Vaughan's imaginative and unyielding captaincy.

The final key to victory has been the winning mentality that has been engendered down the years as Fletcher and his team have built upon their successes.

Under Nasser Hussain's captaincy the XI developed a steely resolve, but under Vaughan they have begun to play with greater confidence and freedom that is the cumulative result of all that has gone before.

England's self-belief will go through the roof after this exhilarating series win and the victory parade that follows.

But while the players take the plaudits, Fletcher will be happy to lurk in the background as he mulls over how his team can improve and go on to even greater triumphs.





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