Australia v NZ, Champions Trophy, 1st semi-final November 1, 2006

Candid Fleming rues timid display

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'We've got to earn more international respect and performances like these don't help that' © Getty Images
Stephen Fleming wasn't willing to hear any talk about "surrendering without a fight" but at the same time he didn't think New Zealand needed to eliminate performances such as today's, when they were outplayed at Mohali.

"We've got to earn more international respect and performances like these don't help that," he stated frankly at the end of the day, no doubt ruing the top-order collapse that left them reeling at 35 for 6. "We got to the semi-finals and played OK to get there but we've got to move forward. This tournament is one where we were a bit timid towards the final stages. We need to learn to become as a team that can talk positively and back that up with performances. I'm not quite convinced today's one was.

"A combination of both good bowling and bad batting cost us early on," he reflected, "and we knew the first 10 overs were going to be important. We weren't sure how much the ball was going to do. They bowled well but our batting was pretty poor. It's been like this throughout the tournament and against a team like Australia, they're really going to expose it."

So where did Fleming think they went wrong? "What we need is more consistent batting performance across the board," he added. "That's why Australia to so well. If someone doesn't do well, someone else does it."

Yet, unlike Pakistan who surrendered on the same pitch against the might of the South African pace attack, New Zealand's lower order kept them afloat. "We were outskilled at the top of the order," he continued when asked about New Zealand lacking the gumption for a fight. "But we got from 35 for 6 to more than 200 and I don't think you'd find any other team doing that. So don't talk about fight. Just backed our skills and didn't give Australia a chance to knock us over."

Fleming didn't hesitate to recognise the efforts of his opening bowlers, who helped New Zealand get this far in the tournament. "Shane Bond was always going to get better. He's copped a bit of slack at home about how he keeps getting injured but we know how dangerous a player he can be when he gets a run of games together. He showed again today, though it still wasn't one of his better days. Kyle Mills has taken wickets for us at the top. He's continued his good form that he showed over the last 18 months. It's one of the reasons why we've got this far in this tournament."

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo