It’s been as emphatic a two-finger salute to Duncan Fletcher as he could have produced; a five-wicket haul, enthusiastic fielding and a classy cameo at No.11. Monty Panesar hasn’t put a foot wrong and has made Fletcher look even more stubborn, righteous and pig-headed than we already suspected.
And his time is nigh. This is it for Fletcher. Only he will reason why he chose to alter a winning attack for the first Test at Brisbane, trying blindly to resurrect the dream of Ashes 2005. But come January the call for his head will ring louder than the Barmy Army’s bugler, and so it should. For all his outstanding work during his tenure, his copybook has been spectacularly blotted. Sadly, for he really did help engineer a change in attitude in English cricket (for the better), he is now a millstone around England’s neck.
Before this series, any decision he made was justified by the media. Nasser Hussain, in particular, has always been quick to defend Fletcher’s selections while describing him as a coach who rarely, if ever, makes the wrong choice. When Monty on-drove Stuart Clark for four, straight back past the bowler, during a vital last-wicket hurrah with Steve Harmison, there were quizzical looks from the Australian fielders. Who is this bearded wonder? It was as classy an on-drive as any left-hander could have dreamed for. And another nail in Fletcher’s coffin.