Fleming knocks back New Zealand bouncers

flemingWhat a difference three matches can make, and no one knows that more than New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming who went from villain to hero in the space of one series against Australia.

A 3-0 whitewash of the world champions a month before heading to the Caribbean and suddenly New Zealand were no longer World Cup underdogs, and the cricket world’s most experienced captain has his confidence back.

Five days earlier, before the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series with Australia began, the fickle New Zealand public were baying for Fleming’s blood.

The side had won just six of their previous 16 games, and a slow century by a struggling Fleming, pushed New Zealand out of the tri-series in Australia when they failed to meet the run-rate in a crucial match against England.

But Fleming’s calibre could not be underestimated and the accolades flowed immediately the Australians were thrashed.

New Zealand cricket boss Martin Sneddon started the ball rolling at the post-match ceremony. “Maybe Stephen Fleming can captain,” he chided the New Zealand fans.

Although struggling for form this southern summer, the left-handed batsman has for so long been New Zealand’s go-to man.

In his 270 One-day International (ODI) matches, 208 as captain, he has scored 7,684 runs at an average of 32.15, and taken an impressive 131 catches, most of them at first slip.

Since taking the reins of the New Zealand side in 1997, Fleming has forged an enviable reputation as an innovative thinker and under his leadership New Zealand has won 91 of 208 matches and lost 103.

At present, his form is patchy but with a century and an unbeaten 76 in his past four innings there are signs the pendulum is swinging in his favour.

As much as New Zealand may be regarded as cricket minnows, under Fleming they have cemented their place as third in the ODI rankings behind South Africa and Australia.

Now he heads to the West Indies for his fourth World Cup, his third as captain, and a burning desire to win and improve on the rankings.

Source:The News

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This entry was posted on Friday, March 2nd, 2007 and is filed under World Cup 2007.

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