Fleming plays down tag of best captain
Stephen Fleming said he did not accept the common judgement in the sport that he was the best International skipper.
New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming said on Sunday he did not accept the common judgement in the sport that he was the best International skipper.
However, it didn't stop the 31-year-old from telling the Sunday Times that his squad - which are set to begin their three Test series at Lord's on Thursday week - were better than the one that toured and beat England in the Test series in 1999.
While cricket stars of the past and present such as England's John Emburey and Aussie spin master Shane Warne have given him the tag of the best skipper, Fleming is refreshingly modest about it.
"I like hearing about it, but I don't buy into it," he said.
"I've been lucky to have seven years in the job.
"Put a lot of players in the job for seven years, and they'd get good.
"Psychology is a big part, but so is identifying your strengths and weaknesses.
"Until you realise those, you can't plan," said the 82-test veteran, who has an average of 38 and six centuries to his name.
Fleming admits the atmosphere has changed markedly since he first arrived on the scene in 1994 and was soon embroiled in controversy when he and two other players were punished for smoking cannabis.
"I've got a settled group of senior players who understand what I am thinking and I am confident enough to tap into them," said Fleming, who has led the Kiwis to a record 20 wins in 58 tests including recent drawn series away in India and at home to the South Africans.
"We're never going to be outwardly confident, that's not our nature, but this is the most talented side I've been involved in.
"We don't know how good we can be, which is exciting."
However Fleming acknowledges that while they may not express their confidence outwardly he and the team have developed a harder edge as they demonstrated against South Africa when he sledged their captain Graeme Smith.
"He (Smith) is an emotional guy.
"That's one thing we thought we would explore and he took the bait.
"I like the guy, but I remember Steve Waugh doing the it to me, and I enjoyed the experience. I learnt a lot," saiud Fleming, who admits he learnt most about captaincy from Waugh's stewardship of Australia.
However Fleming concedes that similar tactics won't work against his phlegmatic English opposite number Michael Vaughan.
"He's not emotional; he's pretty relaxed.
"There's not much he gives away."