The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fletcher displays cautious optimism
- FINAL vs WI - 'I'm hoping our form is going to continue'

London: With the Champions Trophy final not many hours away, England coach Duncan Fletcher chose the cautiously optimistic mode.

'We're confident and I'm hoping our form is going to continue... Now that we've beaten Australia (in the semi-final), I also hope people will finally appreciate that the team has improved,' he pointed out on Thursday.

A former Zimbabwe captain, Fletcher has himself played a big hand in England's revival. Typically, though, he talked of the 'process' of getting results: 'The harder you work off the field, the bigger the rewards on it...'

Citing Paul Collingwood's example, Fletcher added: 'A lot of people wrote him off pretty early without realising he wasn't getting enough opportunities to show his skills... However, with time, he learnt and has become an asset.'

Dismissing a suggestion that the Michael Vaughan-led side could get complacent after a fantastic summer, Fletcher said he wasn't worried. 'This bunch wants to win... As long as that attitude remains, I don't see complacency setting in.'

Asked about the passion and excellent team spirit being shown by England, Fletcher replied: 'Look, that depends on luck... If one or two characters don't fit in, so to say, then the bonhomie suffers... So, a captain and coach must be lucky...'

Fletcher cautioned England have a 'young' side and that ups-and-downs are bound to be there. 'The one-day team is still settling down but, yes, we have players with character.'

The coach, though, ducked when asked whether England intend taking 'advantage' of West Indies captain Brian Lara being knocked down by Shoaib Akhtar: 'We're going to discuss a lot of things...' is all he revealed.

Incidentally, Fletcher agreed that England's 2-1 win over India in the NatWest Challenge 'lifted' the confidence of Vaughan and Co.

Meanwhile, according to former England (one-day) captain John Emburey, the toss may play a significant role.

Speaking to The Telegraph at Lord's, he observed: 'The Oval wicket should be fine, but I feel the advantage will be with us if Vaughan gets the option of inserting the West Indies.'

Emburey, who is the Middlesex coach, believes England are going to be better off chasing.

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