Australia v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Hobart, 4th day December 12, 2011

'Confidence will carry a long way' - Fleming


New Zealand's former captain Stephen Fleming spoke for a generation of cricketers from his homeland when he rejoiced in a remarkable seven-run victory over Australia, and declared the result may be the galvanising moment the current leader Ross Taylor requires to build a winning era.

Not once did Fleming enjoy a Test win over Australia in a career that spanned 1994 to 2008, despite going close several times as one of the game's most widely respected leaders. He said the result in Hobart was close to the ultimate for New Zealand cricket, and forecast the building of a team that can rise up the world rankings.

"No it doesn't [get any bigger for New Zealand cricket]," Fleming told ESPNcricinfo. "A lot of our sides are actually measured on the way we play in Australia, which is why the series is so important to New Zealand players.

"It has been very difficult over the last decade or 15 years to play against Australia, it was a wonderful side they turned out, but there were opportunities this time and I know the players were disappointed that they didn't do better in the first Test. That will all be forgotten with the performance they've put in here.

"It's not the finished product by any means, and certainly with Ross' captaincy it is early days, but the boost of confidence he'll get from that and the players he will now have belief in, will carry a long way. It is a tough summer with South Africa touring for a full series, and it is not going to get any easier. Hopefully they can keep improving and this Test will certainly help the confidence levels, and we're a much better team at home than away."

Conditions in Hobart were reminiscent of those often found in New Zealand, and Fleming said the chance to bowl to Australia on sporting wickets was always enjoyed. He reasoned that a pitch offering as much to bowlers as batsmen would always make Test cricket an engrossing battle.

"I don't mind a bowlers' Test," he said. "It goes forward and gives everyone an opportunity, especially the New Zealand side where we thrive and we're better in those types of conditions than flat ones. I loved the way it ebbed and flowed, right up until before lunch today, it was an excellent performance by our bowlers and showed great determination by the batters, so I'm absolutely delighted for Ross and very pleased to beat Australia - it's been a long time between drinks."

Doug Bracewell's six wickets turned a fluctuating match decisively towards New Zealand either side of lunch on the fourth day, and Fleming said the young seamer's progress was both a reminder of the value of consistency, but also a tick for one of the country's most famed cricket families.

"He's been impressive right from his first performance in Zimbabwe," Fleming said, "He has bowled a good Test match length, he's had a couple of good pitches to bowl on in the Australia series, I think that is something the bowlers will be grateful for. Chris Martin bowled extremely well and led the attack, and enabled Doug to come through.

"Those wickets today were just reward for being consistently there and thereabouts and he in particular will take a lot of confidence from that. They're a very proud family, that's been talked about a lot, and his dad will be very proud of his performance, and John will be very happy that he's been able to beat Australia, which was one of John's big ambitions and desires when he played."

Reflecting on his own contests against Australia, during which he led a touring party to a drawn series against the team of Steve Waugh in 2001, Fleming said Taylor's team had taken an opportunity to exploit an opposition in a state of regeneration not dissimilar to their own.

"They probably put together the greatest sides of all time, that's what we felt like when we were playing the Australian side of years ago, but there was opportunity this time," Fleming said. "There's certainly a rebuilding phase going on in Australian cricket, but that's not to take anything away from the New Zealand performance, there are a lot of young players in there as well.

"It will mean a lot for the cricketing summer here, which was looking at being a bit glum after the first Test performance, it is a nice shot in the arm and a great Christmas present for us"

"There were just more opportunities with more Australian players under pressure, and a case of trying to exploit that and it looked like the opportunity was gone, but they dug deep today and came away with a great victory. It will mean a lot for the cricketing summer here, which was looking at being a bit glum after the first Test performance, it is a nice shot in the arm and a great Christmas present for us."

Change has been ever-present in New Zealand cricket in 2011, as a new team structure was put in place around Taylor's fledgling captaincy. Fleming said there were enough signs that the team could be about to begin phase of strong results, allowing the structure to evolve around it.

"John Buchanan is in the mix putting things in place and it is going to take time for positive results to materialise, but in between they've just got to perform," Fleming said. "Performance puts the blowtorch on everything and often the best systems are changed just because the performance of the top team is not as good as it should be.

"But they've got the makings of being a good side, a good summer here and a bit of experience built on, particularly after this performance, and I do think they have the makings of a good side. They're pretty young, the majority of the players are pretty young, and they have a young captain. So hopefully it is the start of a nice period for New Zealand cricket."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • RandyOZ on December 14, 2011, 11:56 GMT

    Haha Swann? The bloke is a joke. Lyon 10 times better, plus he doesn't release a book when he has less than 200 test wickets!

  • colourhaze on December 13, 2011, 8:14 GMT

    Bracewell should have been man of the match! Warners 100 was good , but didn't decide who wins/looses . TXt voting , what a crock! Just Aussie fans voting for their best performer shouldn't stand on the record books. Cricket being blighted by commercialization again! Shameful!

  • ahsha on December 13, 2011, 8:10 GMT

    New Zealand has so few players it takes generations to blend a challenging side.It takes years for the Kiwis to discover the talent,then a good team evaporates with mass retirements.It always happens...This young side played with courage,skill and committment and found a couple of decent players....A good result!!

  • Marcio on December 13, 2011, 3:47 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge, you seem to do a lot of cyber-sneering, although only after Australia loses, of course. So just for your information Swann is almost 33, while Nathan Lyon has just turned 24 (currently Lyon has a better strike rate and average, although its early days). Cummins, Pattinson and co are all under 22. Let's see where they stand in a couple of years.

  • dummy4fb on December 13, 2011, 1:30 GMT

    The exhilarating test is a victory for the great test arena. Tests are real testing grounds for great cricketing skills. David Warner's 123 not out is not enough to make, for the ten remaining men to make 118 runs.Let the KIWIS be more competitive like this every where.

  • pk_brisbane on December 13, 2011, 0:16 GMT

    @front foot lunge - seriously what does graeme swann have to do with this. lyon defended with honour, and bowled well in both tests. credit where its due, he may not be swann but so what. he puts more price on his wicket than swann does with the bat. im not an ausssie fan at all, but admire the courage of guys like lyon who dont give in.

  • mcneill1977 on December 12, 2011, 22:51 GMT

    alexk400, mate you have no idear about tim southee... He was bowling at 140+ yesterday when we needed him to and he could of easily ened up with the 6 wickets. He beat the bat numerous times. Anyways big up's to nz for the effort absolutly amazing.... i really hope india pump the aussies. the aussies have enjoyed a golden patch but thats all turned around now. India to win 3-0

  • Alexk400 on December 12, 2011, 20:20 GMT

    Doug Bracewell single handedly won the TEST for NZ. Ross taylor and Tim southie almost lost the TEST. if there is no doug bracewell no chance in hell nz gona win that TEST. Boult is better than Tim southie. Tim southie is not working hard , he floats the ball to stumps often and get hammered. I think batsman can see and guess the line and length of Tim southie's bowling because of his action. It is kinda floater action like RP singh in india do. Rp singh gets most of his wickets because of batsman 's mistakes. Samething Tim southie doing. He has to change is bowling style so batsman don't guess where he is bowling or he has to bowl at 6" from offstump line. Boult is good , hope he add some more speed. Guptil should be dropped , mccullum should keep wickets.

  • couchpundit on December 12, 2011, 20:08 GMT

    Kiwis should take this victory with pinch of Salt. This is pretty much Australians third rate team by all means, just because somebody got 5-fer doesnt make it a better attack, it only tells how poor Kiwi batting was.

    Similar Team was pumelled by English last summer.So lets not get ahead of ourselves and look for consistent performance if not fight(which has been missing form Kiwis for a while now). Good to see a kiwi fight this time around, and the bonus was a win over Australians.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on December 12, 2011, 18:51 GMT

    Seeing Lyon having to defend Australia's honour was nothing short of hilarious! What would Australia give for a bowler like England's Graeme Swann. Not only does he turn the ball more than any spinner on the planet, he torments sides with useful knocks. The undisputed number one spinner in the world stands out a country mile even when he's not playing!

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