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Fleming: If you walk around thinking youíre a leader, youíre far from one
- Hours away from record, New Zealander says captaining India is probably the toughest job

Chandigarh: The team-driven New Zealanders are distinctly uncomfortable when the attention is on an individual, but much of the spotlight on Wednesday (in the Champions Trophy face-off against Pakistan) is going to be on captain Stephen Fleming. The 33-year-old, after all, is set to lead his country for a record 194th time in ODIs. He has been at the helm for a few months short of a decade.

In the lead-up, Fleming had quite a bit to say about captaincy. Here go excerpts:

ďItís nice to achieve (a record), but Iíll be more excited if we win the game and get ourselves into the semi-finals... Itís good to achieve personal milestones, but Iím looking to help achieve the team goal ó win tournaments... Weíve improved in the last 24 months, but need to cement that and finish with a good World Cup result (next year)...

ďIím still getting massive satisfaction from leading New Zealand... Thatís an important thing to acknowledge even after ten years... My desire and drive to get better as a captain is as intense as it was on Day-I... I understand the shelf-life talk, but Iíve tried to be innovative and have tried to encourage leadership... That has kept me energised... If you walk around thinking youíre a leader, youíre far from one...

ďA decade of cricket (as captain) is a lot to go through... Good moments, soul-searching moments... They Ďmakeí you as a player and as a person... I canít be thankful enough for having done the job for so long... I got a chance to not only learn, but explore possibilities as to how to go about it... Iím still very mindful of how much respect Iíve got to give the position...

ďActually, Iíve got lots to achieve ó win this tournament, win the next World Cup (March-April 2007), encourage Daniel Vettori, Jacob Oram, Shane Bond and the Marshalls to develop leadership qualities... Theyíre the next group of leaders... Speaking of my successor, Vettoriís name comes up first...

[Incidentally, in an interview to The Telegraph, Vettori has lauded Flemingís role in building a Ďleadership groupí: ďStephen has himself taken a couple of us under his wings... He talks about situations and ideas are exchanged... The Ďleadership groupí is central to the teamís performance... Stephen is remarkable because the shifts in momentum donít affect him...Ē]

ďLooking back (February 1997), I didnít know what I was to do in my first game as captain... My style has changed 360 degrees and more... Iíve developed in different ways... Used the people weíve had and gone with my beliefs... Itís probably now, with the benefit of hindsight, that Iím discovering just how important leadership can be...

ďIím not as good a captain when Iím under pressure as a batsman... The decision-making is not as confident as it should be, but Iíve been in the game long enough to set that aside and concentrate on the captaincy even when the batting isnít going well... Martin Crowe has always been supportive, he was himself an innovative captain... Gilbert Anoeka (a sports psychologist) has also been influential...

ďYes, Iíve thought of giving up the captaincy (when the going hasnít been good)... In the playing sense, the buck stops with me and youíve got to see whether the captaincy is hindering or helping your game... You always think of life after cricket, but Iím not sure whatís there (after retirement)...

ďAt times, Iíve got more credit than deserved... If youíre in the game for recognition (alone), though, then youíre there for the wrong reasons... Team success is what counts... Sure there have been great teams with average captains, but youíve also had very good captains who didnít have too much success... It ought to be okay if youíre able to separate batting from captaincy... First and foremost, Iím in the team as a batsman...

ďCaptaining India is probably the toughest job... Both Sourav (Ganguly) and Rahul (Dravid) are strong personalities, but with contrasting styles... Sourav had quite an emotional streak, but Rahul seems more measured... One needs to respect what Sourav did ó he brought a lot of spark and passion to the team... He differed from the other Indian captains, who had a passive approach... Sourav was very confrontational... Over a period of time, itís going to be interesting how Rahul measures up...

ďIf a captain is observant and man management is in order, then half the things get sorted out...Ē

Fleming, clearly, knows best.

PRAISE FROM PAK CAMP

Pakistan captain Younis Khan and coach Bob Woolmer had nice things to say about Stephen Fleming. Here goes:
YOUNIS: I have always liked New Zealand and have liked Fleming’s captaincy, particularly in the last seven-eight years... He has been leading well...
WOOLMER: Fleming has been an excellent captain and, over the years, one of the best in the world...

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