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  #1  
Old October 8, 2003, 10:55 AM
chinaman chinaman is offline
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Default Fletcher Talks Up Bangladesh

England coach Duncan Fletcher warned his side not to under-estimate the threat posed by international minnows Bangladesh on the first leg of their winter tour to the sub-continent.

Bangladesh have proved little more than cannon fodder for other Test nations since their entry into the international fold in January 2001, failing a to win a single five-day match in 24 outings.

But the appointment of former Sri Lanka coach Dav Whatmore has seen the team improve markedly - and although they have still lost the last five Tests since he took charge, there is a suspicion their first victory is within sight.

A narrow one-wicket defeat in their last attempt against Pakistan suggests England will have to perform to ensure they avoid an upset in the two-Test series which begins in Dhaka in two weeks' time and continues in Chittagong four days later.

That at least is the message being sent out by Fletcher, who earlier today expressed his delight at being given a staff contract by the England and Wales Cricket Board - a sentiment echoed by captain Michael Vaughan.

"Bangladesh's performance against Pakistan shows that Dav Whatmore has done a good job with the national side," said Fletcher.

"They will be no pushover. But this is an England tour, and we want to make sure we win the series.

Vaughan added: "We will treat Bangladesh in exactly the same way as we would anyone else.

"Over the next two-and-a-half weeks leading up to that first Test match, we will prepare in exactly the same manner and have exactly the same meetings and plans.

"Bangladesh have scared a couple of good teams recently, so we have to give the utmost respect.

"We fully expect to go there and win - but you have to put a lot of hard work in to do that.

England's tour plans have been hit by the withdrawal of Lancashire pace bowler James Anderson with a knee injury as well as that of his fellow Lancastrian and talismanic all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who is nursing a recurring groin problem.

Fletcher hopes both will be available for the second phase of their tour against Sri Lanka, although he admits Flintoff will have to be used sparingly as a bowler to guard against further injury.

"Both players have had their injuries since the last Test," he said.

"I'm confident that Anderson will be back for Sir Lanka. I'm also confident that Flintoff will be there too - but I am concerned about him bowling, because this injury keeps coming back," he said.

"I've been assured that with rest he will be 100%. But it is an injury which seems to crop up with over-use, and that's why we must make sure we use him sensibly. Andrew balances the team - he means we can field five frontline bowlers and still have batting depth."

The Lancashire duo's absence has opened the door for Surrey's Rikki Clarke and Kent swing bowler Martin Saggers, the 31-year-old who has yet to represent England in either Tests or one-day internationals.

"Flintoff's injury has given Rikki Clarke a huge opportunity. He's a very talented cricketer," said Fletcher.

"He's doesn't have the same pace as Andrew but he fills the slot of batting all-rounder.

"Saggers was given the nod because we needed an out-and-out bowler. We've got two all-rounders to replace Flintoff's position. But the problem is we see Andrew as a main frontline bowler, so that does change the balance of the side.

"We wanted a bowler who had a little bit of pace and on the advice of the other selectors Saggers was the guy we chose," added the England coach, who will also guide England through the third leg of their winter tour - against the West Indies - early next year.

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Old October 9, 2003, 08:17 AM
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Hasib Hasib is offline
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