Thursday, 14 February 2008

Ben on...Fleming, the conqueror

Tributes are flowing in for Steven Fleming. All of the kiwi blogs on my roll have laudatory posts and Cricinfo has a nice collection of articles. Our favourite Aussie blog compares Fleming favourably with Noam Chomsky, our favourite linguist/anarcho-syndicalist.

It is of course inarguable that Fleming was the greatest captain of his time. His win ratio of 35% might not have been as good as many of his contemporaries, and test series wins against every team except Australia and Pakistan is only impressive in the context of New Zealand cricket. However, a better measure of how good a captain he was is the fact that he outlasted so many of his contemporaries. He held on to the captaincy for 10 years, seeing off such stalwarts as Sourav Ganguly, Sanath Jayasuriya, Inzamam-ul-haq and Nasser Hussain. But even more significant is the number of opposing captains he sent to the wall.

Brian Lara

In 1999/2000 the West Indies visited New Zealand and lost every game, and Brian Lara lost the captaincy.

Steve Waugh

Fleming never won a test series against Australia, but in 2001/2 he got within a whisker. With Australia coming off a record 16 consecutive wins, they were forced into the defensive in the third test, managing to salvage a drawn series. New Zealand were 10 runs away from taking the first test and 3 wickets from taking the third (the second was rained into irrelevancy). To my mind, this series was the absolute high point of Fleming's captaincy career.

However, it was the VB Series with South Africa where Fleming did the damage to Waugh. New Zealand won 3/4 games against Australia and contrived to keep them out of the finals. The selectors responded by dumping Waugh as captain of the ODI side. He retained the test captaincy, but perhaps only by a whisker.

Sean Pollock

Ostensibly, Pollock was dumped after the 2003 World Cup because of his inability to read his Duckworth–Lewis chart, keeping South Africa out of the Super Sixes. In reality though, it was South Africa's overall failure at the tournament, and no one was more an architect of that failure than Fleming with his rain-interrupted 134 off 132.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul

The West Indies were soundly beaten again in 2005/6 ending Chanderpaul's sorry reign as captain (1 win, 10 losses). Three series wins against the Windies and two defeated captains finally erased the memory of Wellington 1995.


gretzky said...

Don't forget the humiliation he inflicted on Graeme Smith!

Bala said...

Leaving legend i love him so much. really he is the best captain ever made. :)

Ben said...

Michael Hussey

The 2006/7 Chappell–Hadlee downtrou and two rough smacks on each bare cheek brought Hussey's captaincy ambitions to a shuddering halt.