| Fleming: Modest
Auckland: Having walloped India in the Tests and the one-dayers, New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming Wednesday threw a challenge saying they are ready to face the Indians on the turning tracks.
The most successful New Zealand captain ever also added he had no role in the controversial green-tops that caused immense problems to the formidable Indian batting.
“We didn’t want green, seaming wickets. We wanted bouncy strips. It’s not my idea,” Fleming said. “I want to promote cricket in New Zealand. We had better wickets in the past and these green-tops are not good for the game either.
“But if we get turners in India, we are ready to face it with a challenge,” he said referring to the possibility of India preparing spinner-friendly wickets when the Black Caps go for the return tour in October.
Fleming said the comprehensive victory had put his side in the right frame of mind ahead of next month’s World Cup. He felt the two losses did not bother him much since he was working on a few plans with the series already wrapped up. “Though we lost two games, we have started the process of performing well as a unit. The win in the first four games gave us the opportunity to finalise a few things.”
The captain, however, was not ready to count New Zealand as one of the favourites for the World Cup. “There are better sides around and I don’t think New Zealand are one of the favourites. We can combine to be a good side. On our day we can beat any team in the world, but it’s a case of stringing together performances.”
Fleming said his team’s worth would be judged by how they fare against Australia, a team which, he said, brought the best out of the Black Caps.
“We always play well against them because of the style we adopt. It’s in line with Australian aggressiveness. But we are not as consistent as them.
“It’s a challenge playing against Australia and I’m sure they feel the same. We both enjoy good competition and it brings out the best in us.”
But Fleming denied his team had deliberately let go a chance to win bonus points against Australia in last season’s tri-series which allowed South Africa to sneak into the final ahead of Australia and finally led to the sacking of Steve Waugh.
“I did not do it deliberately. It was not part of a plan. It probably was their own plan (to remove Steve Waugh) and Australian cricket was looking for a change of direction. I would be really disappointed to know I had something to do with it,” he said.
Playing down Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne’s assessment that he was the best captain, Fleming said: “I know the Australian philosophy of praising other teams and individuals. Shane had probably put me behind two other Australians but the way I was portrayed in the media, it was nice.”
Fleming said he was not affected by criticisms on his batting. “It keeps me on my toes. My figures have improved and I will continue to prove that for the next few years.”
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) chief Martin Snedden admitted that many of the pitches in the recently concluded series were “unsatisfactory” and the board would take steps to ensure preparation of better tracks in future. “It’s our responsibility to get them right and we must learn from this,” he said.
“At the start of the season we sent out the same message we have in recent years, wanting wickets with bounce and pace. We don’t want to revert to the low-scoring dungheaps of yesteryears.”
The board, which intends to intently analyse the pitches and work closely with groundsmen, is also likely to start an investigation on the issue.
But Snedden said the tracks were not doctored to suit the home side. “I have seen suggestions that we wanted the pitches doctored to suit our players but that’s just rubbish.”