Stephen Fleming said it’s time New Zealand started producing World Cup players who can break through the constant disappointment of falling at the semifinal hurdle.
Fleming, who after the match announced his resignation as New Zealand’s one-day captain, said: “We were outclassed at key moments. I’m very proud of where we’ve got to but I’m disappointed that we are not going one step further.”
His pride comes from knowing his team continues to punch above their weight — there are only 150 professional players in a population of four million where rugby union is the dominant sport.
“There are a lot of other New Zealand teams that have felt the hollow feeling and we just have to get on with it. We’ve got to make sure semifinals are a line in the sand. We’ve got to produce players of the calibre to take us to a World Cup semifinal and win it,” he said.
“We hoped we were going to have a couple of great days and get there this time. But we are just going to have to wait. We do damn well with what we’ve got. For a country like ours to keep producing semifinal sides is very good but we are not happy with that. It’s not good enough,” he explained.
After losing twice in this World Cup to Sri Lanka, and suffering a 215-run reverse against champions Australia, who played South Africa in yesterday’s second semifinal, Fleming said his side had fallen short against the best.
“Australia and Sri Lanka may go on to contest the final and if that’s the case there’s no shame in being beaten by them in a World Cup,” he expressed.
“They are the only teams that beat us. But if you look at why they beat us, it’s probably that skill factor,” he explained.
“Sri Lanka, where their bowling attack is unusual but the best, against an Australia batting line-up which is the best in the tournament, if that’s the final it will be a good contest to watch,” he added.
New Zealand were still in the game with Sri Lanka, who won the toss and were 129 for three off 30 overs. But Jayawardene took the game away from them although he was dropped on 70 by Shane Bond. In all 102 runs came off the last 10 overs.
“We bowled poorly in the last 10,” said Fleming. “Their captain played extremely well and almost guarded himself until that last 10 overs to make sure they got a score. As good as he was, we were equally as poor,” he expressed.
Reflecting on his team’s approach, Fleming said: “We were very nervous. We were desperate to get through this and get to the final.”
He said mediocre top-order batting — he himself made just one following four successive noughts against Sri Lanka — had also cost New Zealand dear. “At some point it was probably going to expose us during a World Cup and it did today,” he added.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2007 and is filed under Cricket, Cricket Stars.
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