New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming is livid. He believes New Zealand and Australia, the two other teams involved in the ongoing tri-series here, are being discriminated against when it comes to playing conditions.
The normally diplomatic Kiwi captain has gone on the offensive in a New Zealand Press Association report published in the New Zealand Herald’s website on Tuesday.
New Zealand’s loss to Australia in Pune on Monday seems to have prompted the outburst, where a furious Fleming reportedly said: “There’s two competitions going on - one for us and Australia where it seams around and is tough to bat and India play another one where it gets lower and slower then turns. I wonder who did that itinerary.”
Fleming has blamed early morning starts for ruining the Kiwi matches against Australia.
Fleming was very upset at having to bat again in early morning dew at 9am after losing the toss in Pune. “They’ve got it wrong, you can’t start this early with wickets like this, there’s no point,” Fleming said.
“We’ve been on the wrong side of it twice and it makes the next game a lottery too. We can complain but it falls on deaf ears because India aren’t playing.”
Fleming might have a point as all India’s six matches in the TVS Cup are day-nighters and New Zealand need to win in Cuttack against the hosts on Thursday to stay in the tournament.
“So much rides on the toss. At least in New Zealand it seams for 100 overs, here it seams for 25 and after that it’s a belter. I’ve talked to Ricky Ponting and he’s not happy either because we know how crucial the toss is.”
Ponting had also said after the Pune match that the conditions were playing too big a part after he sent New Zealand in to bat and watched his paceman Brad Williams take the first four wickets on the way to a career-best five for 53.
“They’re trying to better their wickets for the standard of their own cricket but they’ve just left too much juice in them for one-day cricket,” Ponting said. “When you’re starting at that time of the morning it’s bound to swing, and the wickets have had life in them which is tough for the side batting first.”
In the previous Australia-New Zealand game in Faridabad (after Fleming won the toss and batted first), the Kiwis were shot out for an embarrassing 97 in double quick time by the inexperienced Aussie pace attack. It was, yet again, an unexpected wicket - the ball was seaming dangerously for the early part of the morning.
Fleming’s forthright outburst is reminiscent of what Sourav Ganguly said after India were subjected to very awkward pitches during the humiliating series in New Zealand last year. Ganguly (and the Indian team management) screamed bloody murder even as cries of revenge flew thick and fast.
The recently concluded two-Test series here was supposed to assuage India’s pride - the pitches were to have been tailored to suit Indian spinners and plague the Kiwi batsmen.
Unfortunately, as everyone knows, the script went terribly awry. It’s ironic perhaps, that the Kiwis survived the Test series handsomely and have then been tormented in the one-day series - and that too, on wickets that should have reminded them of the conditions back home.