Fletcher’s book not yet in the top 10

On the eve of its publication and in spite of a week’s worth of superb publicity, Duncan Fletcher’s autobiography, Behind the Shades, is languishing at a distinctly Zimbabwean 79th place on Amazon’s bestseller list. The people of Britain clearly rate Karl Pilkington, the gormless radio character infantilised and made famous by Ricky Gervais, more than a former England cricket coach.

Even The Official Highway Code ranks higher, not to mention The Beano Annual 2008. So come on, get ordering – it’s going to be a great read.

Harmison feels betrayed by Fletcher

I asked Stuart Broad for his thoughts on the Duncan Fletcher futore the other day. “Don’t read books,” he announced with a broad smile (sorry). “Not enough pictures!” It was a predictable response, and I applauded his blatant bullshitting.

Steve Harmison, though, doesn’t really care what he says these days – especially if it means coming to the defence of his old chum Andrew Flintoff. Somehow, though, Harmison’s comments don’t carry the weight of, say, Andrew Strauss or Matthew Hoggard. You feel if Flintoff had run over a dog on purpose, before roasting it on a spit, Harmison would say “Andrew has learned his lesson. He might be a canine killer but he’s still great fun to be around; an inspiration. Just ask anyone. Anyone but the dog and its owner of course.”

Nevertheless, his outburst to the Daily Mail made for enjoyable reading and was yet another nail in Fletcher’s coffin. I can’t see how this affair will simply “blow over”. I see Nasser Hussain has also been making comments, in the same paper, about the lily-livered decision makers in the ECB, and their handing jobs to Hugh Morris and Mike Gatting. It feels like 1999 all over again…

An alternative cover for Fletcher’s autobiography

Another cheeky piece of photoshopping from Mike who has created an alternative front cover for Duncan Fletcher’s autobiography, Behind the Shades.

Nestled between the Home Office and a children’s classic

What company does Duncan Fletcher keep? Well it’s certainly not with Ian Botham, Geoff Boycott as we’ve found out today. But here’s his book, on Amazon’s bestsellers nestled between a weighty-looking tome of Life in the UK (hmm) and There was an old lady who swallowed a fly. It’s 127th at the moment and could well be in the top 10 if the Daily Mail continues to serialise it. My copy’s about to land on my desk too, which is thoroughly exciting.

fletchers-book-on-amazon.jpg

Notes from the pavilion

Duncan’s book

So then. No going quietly into the shadows for Duncan Fletcher, whose autobiography is exposing Andrew Flintoff’s drink problems (among other things). But where do the public stand on the whole issue? I’d be interested to hear everyone’s thoughts.

Fletcher says he’s been let down by Flintoff, that Fred was too wrecked to even throw a ball (let alone catch it). This is woeful behaviour for a sportsman, especially one described by Brett Lee as a supreme athelete. But why didn’t Fletcher – the most powerful man in English cricket – nip it in the bud at the first offence?

And why was Flintoff given the captaincy ahead of Andrew Strauss? At the time, we all bought into the fanciful notion that Flintoff alone could help us retain the Ashes; a leader of men rather than a tactician. He’ll drag the players with him through sheer brute force, we thought. So, it seems, did Duncan. Or was Fletcher so concerned with Flintoff’s levels of drinking that he thought the captaincy might rein him in? Either way, he – and David Graveney – must be accountable. It was a gross error and has cost England, Flintoff (and Strauss, let’s be honest) severely.

Who was he out drinking with? Yep, Ian Botham (who naturally doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with sinking 12 bottles of Chardonnay. In an evening). Me and my miniature mate Dan from the magazine were discussing this today, and he reminded me of a piece Simon Hughes wrote in relation to Flintoff’s World Cup boozing:

Before the last day of an England Test in 2004, I was on the pitch chatting with Andrew Flintoff when Ian Botham strode over. “There he is, the world expert on batting,” Botham chortled, referring to me, “the bloke who used to fall asleep fielding at long leg. True, you know! [Unfortunately it is]. Now then Freddie, you and Harmy are coming out with me tomorrow night!’ Flintoff nodded in approval.

When the two had gone their respective ways, Michael Vaughan wandered over. I congratulated him on his second century of the match. “Thanks,” he said. “Nice track, innit. What was Botham saying?”

“Oh, he was promising Harmy and Freddie he’d take them out tomorrow night,” I replied.

“Oh no he’s not,” Vaughan said. “They’re not going out with Beefy! There’s another Test match in three days’ time.”

Vaughan’s authority is his greatest asset. What will Duncan’s book bring tomorrow?

Notes from the pavilion for October 27th

Fletcher and his poker face

I just stumbled across a book with a very similar title to Duncan Fletcher’s forthcoming autobiography, Behind the Shades. It’s called The Man Behind the Shades: The Rise and Fall of Stuey ‘The Kid’ Ungar, Poker’s Greatest Player.

A little irony for you there; Fletcher has the best poker face since Steve Waugh.

Fletcher’s book is out on November 5 and you can pre-order it from Amazon which also gives me a bit of money – a good thing for all concerned, don’t you think?

Duncan Fletcher autobiography: Behind The Shades

Heads up: Fletcher’s autobiography is released on November 5. Digby, the publisher’s PR, might even have some early spare copies for some lucky winners here and at Cricinfo. Otherwise, pre-order at Amazon for an amazing £9.49 (the retail price in Waterstones and co will be £18.99!).

England v West Indies, Super Eights, Barbados

It’s a day of last hurrahs. England’s final match; West Indies last game; Duncan Fletcher’s and Brian Lara’s last in international cricket and, apart from those departing, it’s an utterly meaningless encounter. Due to Fletcher’s retirement, England are apparently now up for the match (which is nice). All we want is a Lara hundred though, don’t we?

Leave your wibblings below and keep an eye on the scorecard.