They have good rapport


JULY 2. Like Australia's John Buchanan, England's Duncan Fletcher prefers to be in the background, allowing captain Nasser Hussain to do the speaking and communicating to the media. Fletcher has interacted with the media many times, but likes to work behind the scene.

It was after the 1999 World Cup that the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) decided to find a replacement for David Lloyd, now a Sky television commentator. There were a few in the running for the job, including Bob Woolmer, who relinquished his job as South Africa's coach.

England captain Nasser Hussain and coach Duncan Fletcher are producing results. Fletcher prefers to be in the background while Hussain does all the talking to the media.-N. SRIDHARAN

The job finally went to the Zimbabwean who knew English cricket in and out having played as a professional in the county championship. One of the reasons for England's success in both forms of cricket in recent times has been the working relationship between Hussain and Fletcher.

"Fielding is an area England has improved," say many observers. Andrew Flintoff has gone on record saying that his overall game has improved not because he went to the Academy, but because of working with Fletcher.

The two heads of English cricket, Hussain and Fletcher, have struck a good rapport. That is why Fletcher has asked Hussain to continue the captaincy even after the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.

When it was pouring, it helped Roselyn Cox. She was able to sell more cricket books. Batting from Memory by Jack Fingleton, one of the classic books, is picked up by many. There are also old copies of the Wisden going very cheap, compared to the original cover price. They sell like hot cakes.

Roselyn Cox in her bookshop at Chester-Le-Street, Durham.-N. SRIDHARAN

July 3. Durham is in the North East of England, where loads of money is being spent for the development of cricket. Here, today, the fans have their fill with Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid making merry at Chester-Le-Street.

Newcastle City has a history going back to 2000 years. Newcastle is about 30 minutes drive from Durham. Tourists using the motorway make it a point to alight and see the Angel of North or Gateshead Angel, a 65 feet tall structure made of metal. The wing span of the angel is about 120 feet. It was constructed two years ago at a cost of 8,50,000 pounds.

Tourists visiting this place also find time to visit Angel View Inn for a pint of beer or two and fish and chips. "Nobody knew about that place, but the owner is lucky now, he is doing good business," said the guide from Gateshead.

July 4. It's a big match for Chester-Le-Street. This is what Chester-Le-Street Council member said: "I have been a leader of the District Council for 11 years and member of the council for 31 years. I can honestly say that during all this time the creation of the Riverside Cricket Ground is the most exciting development to have taken place in the district.

"The people of North East have confirmed by their attendance that they will support international cricket and at Chester-Le-Street we have proved that we can handle 17000 people. What we need is England to do well."

The Angel of North or Gateshead Angel in Newcastle City. The wing span of the Angel is about 120 feet.-N. SRIDHARAN

July 5. NatWest has been patronising cricket for over two decades. A release issued by the sponsor makes the following points in the 'Do you know that?' section: 1. England captain Nasser Hussain was 13 when NatWest began sponsorship, 2. Alex Tudor and Andrew Flintoff were just three years old in 1981. 3. Neil Mallender played for Northamptonshire in the final of the 1981 NatWest Trophy championship, 4. Darren Gough, Alec Stewart and Marcus Trescothick are the only members of the England squad who have played in two previous NatWest Series.

July 6. Edgbaston was a lucky venue for India in the 1999 World Cup. Mohammed Azharuddin's team had eliminated England from the second stage.

Raju Joshi (who has roots in Porbandar, Gujarat) whose family has established business for many years here says: "I think one Asian team should visit England every year. Cricket is a great game. It bonds people. I may not get time to go and see all the matches, because I have a responsibility to run the family business. But younger members of the family make it a point to see matches involving Asian teams. They buy the tickets in advance and wait for the big day to arrive."

India and Sri Lanka are given a warm welcome at Edgbaston, with groups of children lining up. "Probably it helps the players of the two countries to play with pride. We have borrowed a lot of things from the Asian countries. The boys get opportunities to see cricketers at close quarters. They are inspired being part of the game," said a fan who has rarely missed a match at Edgbaston.-N. SRIDHARAN

Indeed, it was a big day in Edgbaston because two Asian teams were scheduled to play. The teams were given a sort of guard of honour welcome into the ground, with children lining up on each side and the leader holding the flags of the two countries. "Probably it helps the players of the two countries to play with pride. We have borrowed a lot of things from the Asian countries. The boys get opportunities to see cricketers at close quarters. They are inspired being part of the game," said a fan who has rarely missed a match at Edgbaston.

July 7. They are the familiar faces. David Gower has class, probably next only to Richie Benaud, as an anchor and also as a commentator, though someone who has been in this business of cricket broadcasting said when it comes to discussing technique, India's Sunil Gavaskar and South Africa's Barry Richards are the best.

Former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding has his own style. He is brutally frank when he has to make a point. He does not hold his punches. Holding is another popular commentator.

David Gower, Ranjit Fernando and Michael Holding. They are most sought after TV commentators.-N. SRIDHARAN

Ranjit Fernando represents the Sri Lankan cricket on the television. Also a distinguished former Sri Lankan cricketer, Fernando is sought after by television channels.

July 8. The Indians are back at the nets at the Oval. It's the day Sourav Ganguly turned 30. He goes out for lunch with his wife Dona and has a team dinner in the evening. The management of Crown Plaza, St. James Court where the team will be staying when in London, sends a bottle of champagne and bouquet to the Indian captain.

Apart from breaking the news that Venkatsai Laxman will get a go, Ganguly spends time with a handful of English journalists explaining to them why the Indian team can look different at the time of the next World Cup.

"We don't have infrastructure for practice and training and other facilities as you have it here, but we have talented and natural cricketers in India and Pakistan. That's why anything can happen in the next eight months," he said.

July 9. The Indians lose the tag of the only unbeaten team in the NatWest series. It loses to England which played better cricket on that day.

It was a wonderful performance by England in a game reduced to 32 overs and Ronnie Irani who made 53, picked up five wickets and held a catch.