Chappell on the Ashes: Fleming wins lone battle (30 November 1998)

30 November 1998

Chappell on the Ashes: Fleming wins lone battle

By Ian Chappell

DAMIEN Fleming went through a lean period when he was 12th man for Victoria after he had worked hard to rehabilitate an injured shoulder, but he has reaped his rewards at the WACA.

For the couple of years after he injured his shoulder and was out of Test cricket, Fleming draped his Australia blazer over the end of his bed as motivation to get back into the team. He did it so that when the training and all the exercises were a bit of a grind, he would keep pushing himself to get his shoulder right.

Despite the hard work and some good form leading up to the Gabba, his position was in jeopardy for the second Test but he won a tight selection battle with Michael Kasprowicz for the specialist into-the-wind bowling job.

Finding conditions to his liking on the first day with an easterly blowing - the ideal breeze for outswing from the members' end - he capitalised by taking five wickets in an innings for the first time at Test level.

In the second innings, he pushed up into the Fremantle Doctor - the prevailing south-westerly - and, bowling accurately at a lively pace, he regularly found the edge of the bat.

He saved his best in both innings for Mark Butcher, the Gabba century-maker, twice swinging the ball in and then taking it away off the seam. It was as if Fleming was saying "Brisbane was your turn, now I'm taking my chance".

It has been a hard road back for Fleming, who took a hat-trick on his Test debut, but he seems to have found serenity in a short run. A seven-pace approach has him better balanced at the point of delivery and he has lost none of his pace. If anything, he is bowling a little quicker than when he first played for Australia.

After a reasonable comeback via the one-day side in India and Sharjah, he served further notice at the Commonwealth Games that his rehabilitation was complete.

It was noticeable that Graeme Hick could dominate with Fleming off the ground injured and he will be keen to get back on to try to put an end to any England heroics.

He will also be keen to take one more wicket and make it 10 for the match - a reasonable reward for anyone who went through looking at that awful, gaudy blazer every night for two years.

Source :: Electronic Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk)

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