I’ll give Vettori space – Fleming
Former captain Stephen Fleming promises he will not be in new skipper Daniel Vettori’s ear all the time during the forthcoming test-cricket season but won’t hesitate in telling him when he thinks the left-arm spinner should bowl.
Fleming, who rejoined the Black Caps squad preparing for the test series in South Africa at Lincoln, yesterday pledged to let Vettori have his space running the team.
But Fleming believes that Vettori’s biggest dilemma, as a specialist bowler, may arise early on when making the call to bring himself in or out of the attack.
“It’s more just giving him the confidence to come on and bowl because I think that’s his biggest adjustment.
“It’s up to Brendon (McCullum) and myself to give him the confidence or (suggest) maybe that a change is required. That’s probably the only time I would look to influence his captaincy otherwise I would give him his space and let him work his magic.”
Fleming said he had felt a little apprehensive rejoining the squad after five months away, the first time since his demotion from the test captaincy which he held for the past decade and wished to retain.
“It’s been surprisingly relaxed. I wasn’t nervous but I guess a little apprehensive about how I’d slide back in but it’s a pretty good squad, a good group of guys.”
Fleming said the unsettled period during August when he lost the test leadership and was tempted to join the rebel Indian Cricket League has now been put behind him.
“I’ve no axe to grind. I was disappointed I was not captain anymore but it was (a) small component of what I want to do and where I want to be.”
Fleming admitted a burning desire was to lift his test average into the mid-40s from the high 30s where it sits uncomfortably for him at present.
“My test average should be up higher than 40 and that’s something I want to achieve but I’ve never been a great goalsetter. I tend to put my energy into match situations rather than goals or achievements.”
Fleming says he will be concentrating on a leadership role with the top-order batsmen having already been assigned the No. 3 role for the tour.
As the team’s senior batsman Fleming will bat first-drop against the demanding Proteas pace attack.
“Myself and the two openers in the top three are going to be under the pump a little bit as the South African bowlers come at you pretty aggressively and it’s a big responsibility.”
New Zealand has never beaten South Africa either at home or away in a series and Fleming was disappointed the Black Caps only have two tests against South Africa when it had three last season.
“If you slip up in one then it’s all over but having only had two tests in 18 months I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.
Fleming is a little uncertain what conditions to expect playing South Africa on early season pitches in November.
Last year New Zealand played South Africa in May and Fleming said in the first and third tests “the ball went everywhere. So this time of year could be interesting.”
Fleming will then use his matches for Wellington as preparation for the home test series that follow against Bangladesh and England.
“One of the challenges I face is getting the balance of cricket right. There’s two first-class games between Bangladesh but then there’s a lot of one-dayers and Twenty 20 which is not ideal for test cricket. But that’s where county cricket, where you are changing games, comes in.”
Wellington pace bowler Iain O’Brien will replace the injured Kyle Mills in the Black Caps team which leaves for South Africa next week.
Mills sustained a calf muscle strain last week with a New Zealand squad in Australia and has not recovered sufficiently for the test segment tour.
Mills will be considered for the one-day section of the tour in mid-November.