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Home > Cricket > The Cup > Reuters > Report

Fletcher relieved as England progress at last

Mark Meadows | March 26, 2007 15:35 IST

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England coach Duncan Fletcher is just glad his side have reached the World Cup Super Eights after crashing out in the group stage in the last two tournaments.

They flopped at home in 1999 and their refusal to play in Zimbabwe in 2003 cost them progression.

This time England have qualified with wins over Canada and Kenya after recovering from a defeat by New Zealand and a drinking scandal, which led to Andrew Flintoff being stripped of the vice-captaincy and dropped for the Canada game.

"In previous World Cups we've stumbled early in the tournament so it is important that we've got through to the Super Eights," he told reporters after Saturday's seven-wicket win over Kenya.

"It was nice just to beat them three down and there was a good intensity in the field. In previous occasions we probably would have had a few exciting moments. We didn't. We produced some quite clinical cricket for us."

Last Friday's late-night drinking episode and the murder of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer have added to the pressure in the last week but Fletcher can now see the positives.

"It's been very difficult from our point of view from the incidents that happened earlier that were reported in the media to the Bob Woolmer incident which definitely affected the players," he said. "I think it has brought the side together." 

England, who have never won the World Cup, next face surprise package Ireland in their first Super Eight match in Guyana on Friday.

Fletcher is keen to get points on the board after missing out on carrying two through from the group stage by losing to New Zealand.

"(Ireland) are not going to be an easy side. We are going to have to produce our best performances again," he said. "This is the second game in that round so we've got to make sure we don't go two down.

"Every win is important to us after losing that first one."

England opener Ed Joyce used to play for Ireland and Fletcher is hoping he can be helpful.

"We'll pick him out on a few things. We'll use his knowledge," he said.

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