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January 8, 2007
Stephen Fleming, New Zealand's captain, believes Michael Vaughan's return to the helm will make England a stronger team as they prepare for the ODI tri-series in Australia.
"It's just how they start and what sort of confidence they get," Fleming told reporters. "They get their skipper back who'll make a pretty big difference and they've got players, the Pietersens and the Flintoffs, who can certainly turn a one-day game on their own."
Vaughan, 32, returns from an 18-month lay off due a knee injury. Although he has recovered from knee surgery, he is yet to prove his effectiveness in the field and with running between wickets. And despite a 5-0 beating in the Ashes, Fleming felt England could still be dangerous.
New Zealand, the third team in the series, would benefit from the competition ahead of the World Cup, Fleming said - "beating Australia in its own backyard is very tough," - but added that they were not invincible. The absence of Shane Watson, injured, and a quality spinner were two key factors, though Australia were "pretty well-rounded and it's a side that's performed under pressure, so there's not too many chinks in their armour."
New Zealand have their own problems going into the series, particularly their poorly performing batting lineup, having suffered their worst-ever ODI defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka on Saturday.
The tri-series opens with an Australia-England clash on 12 January at Melbourne.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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