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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 December 2005, 00:03 GMT
Profile: Duncan Fletcher
By Rob Hodgetts

Duncan Fletcher
England's Ashes glory will be remembered for Andrew Flintoff's fireworks and the cool captaincy of Michael Vaughan but the driving force behind the success was coach Duncan Fletcher.

The Zimbabwe-born Fletcher, 57, who became an OBE in the New Year Honours List, took over the reigns at England late in 1999 with the national side ranked as the worst Test nation.

Six years and plenty of hard work and heartache later Fletcher's team clinched the Ashes against Australia for the first time since 1987.

The victory sparked jubilant scenes around the country and Fletcher's professional pride was boosted by the achievement of a personal goal.

After 15 years of waiting, Fletcher finally received his British citizenship following the intervention of Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary.

Fletcher's coaching pedigree came from his time as Zimbabwe captain in the pre-Test era and as a successful coach with South Africa's Western Province and county side Glamorgan.

But it was his partnerships with England captains Nasser Hussain and his predecessor Vaughan that laid the foundations for success.

South Africa (away): 1-2
Zimbabwe (home): 1-0
West Indies (home): 3-1
Sri Lanka (away): 2-1
Pakistan (home): 1-1
Australia (home): 1-4
India (away): 0-1
New Zealand (away): 1-1
Sri Lanka (home): 2-0
India (home): 1-1
Australia (away): 1-4
Zimbabwe (home): 2-0
South Africa (home): 2-2
Bangladesh (away): 2-0
Sri Lanka (away): 0-1
West Indies (away): 3-0
New Zealand (home): 3-0
West Indies (home): 4-0
South Africa (away): 2-1
Bangladesh (home): 2-0
Australia (home): 2-1
Pakistan (away): 0-2

Fletcher always kept a low profile in regards to the media, preferring his captains to shoulder the duty of providing sound bites while he focused on fitness, preparation and man-management.

His input has been the careful nurturing of talent to help players fulfil their potential and a raft of administrative changes.

Central contracts were already on the way when Fletcher joined Hussain at the helm, first suggested by former skipper Michael Atherton with help from coach David Lloyd.

But the concept of Team England, with players belonging primarily to their country rather than their counties, is Fletcher's own.

After a career in systems management - he devised Zimbabwe's car registration system - he has brought new methods and chains of command to the side.

If the captain is the chief executive, Fletcher is a business consultant, always on hand to advise but rarely giving a lead.

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

Every player's strengths and weaknesses are analysed, and specific plans devised for each member of the opposition.

England's use of specialist coaches - most recently Glamorgan's Matthew Maynard with the one-day side but also bowling coach Troy Cooley - has also increased under Fletcher.

But he had a mountain to climb when he was drafted in to kick-start the revolution after England crashed to an 83-run defeat against New Zealand at The Oval in 1999 - rendering them the worst Test team.

His tenure began badly, with England losing four wickets in the first 17 balls of his opening game in South Africa.
Duncan Fletcher (left) and Andrew Flintoff
Fletcher (left) and Andrew Flintoff discuss tactics in Pakistan

But a debutant named Vaughan played a gritty innings to help England out of a 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.

Another key factor in Fletcher - and England's - success is his policy of sticking with the same starting XI as far as possible.

This formula has helped create a Club England ethos and a team of genuine friends as well as sporting colleagues, who have developed a winning mentality.

Under 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.

The Ashes - England's sixth Test series win in a row - was a crowning glory but the Test and one-day series defeats in Pakistan reinforced the need for constant development.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Fletcher will be determined to get England back on track in India in the New Year as they build towards the Ashes defence in Australia.

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