I want to be part of a history-making team: Fleming
Damien Fleming loves having fun and relishes the Indian conditions. He also wants to make an impact on the tour. The tourists look like a team that can break the 31-year-old jinx of not having beaten India at home. The Australian team aims to make history by creating a golden era in Australian cricket and Fleming wants his name to go down in history as a member of this period. In an exclusive interview with CricInfo, he spoke of his experiences on the Indian subcontinent.
Q: Do you really enjoy bowling on the Indian pitches?
A: Yeah, it's a good challenge isn't it? The wickets are a bit flatter and a bit lower than those back home. The batsmen play so well here. With the likes of Tendulkar and Dravid making runs, it should be a challenge. That's what Test cricket is about. It's a test and I have a little bit of success here, so I hope it continues on this tour.
Q: What were you thinking in that last over against the West Indies in the semi-final of the 1996 World Cup?
A: It was a great experience for me. I just came into the World Cup after hurting my shoulder in the West Indies. Luckily in my first game against India at Mumbai I got five wickets and Mark Waugh got 90, That really kicked us on and we got a bit of momentum going on. The semifinal in Chandigarh was a magic moment, We probably didn't get enough runs on the board and the West Indies started off so well. Then it really turned around with Steve Waugh getting Brian Lara, which got us going and Glen McGrath and Shane Warne bowled a couple of good spells to get us down to the 49th over. Then Mark Taylor turned over and said you're bowling the last over and I think the scenario was eight runs to win with two wickets in hand. Everyone was saying make sure you bowl well and put in a yorker. I ran in and bowled a half volley and Richie Richardson just smashed it for four. I thought i got to bowl better. We got a run out the next ball and there was a run again and Courtney Walsh was on strike. I thought he would just run it down and get Richie on strike again. I released the ball and it all went in slow motion and when it hit the stumps, it was the greatest feeling in my life.
Q: You always express yourself emotionally on the field, is that the real Fleming?
A: I am sort of quite laid back off the field. I like to smile and have a bit of a laugh. But when I am on the field, I get pretty intense and I get little bit frustrated with myself. It is probably something I can deal with better and not show my emotions as much on the field. I am a bit of an emotional person. When I get a big wicket I like to go up and cheer and if I am unlucky and I get hit for a four, I get a bit frustrated I show it. I think the crowds like that and I like to see people just reacting and I think the crowd can relate to that too, can't they. They don't wanna see robots running around playing cricket do they?
Q: How will you look to tackle Tendulkar?
A: It's a good call. He's such an important player for them and I think the other cricketers play well around him when he is doing well. There are some quality players like Ganguly and some of the other guys and some young guys coming along as well. But really I think if we can get Tendulkar early a few times in the Tests, it's really going to kick start us on and I think it would be good. The last time, he got on top of us early in 1998. It would be great if we can get on top of him early this time, so it's going to be interesting. We all have had a lot of chats about him, working at a couple of plans. If one doesn't work, try another and try this one. It would be good if we get fired up early on.
Q: How do you bowl in tandem with McGrath?
A: I certainly think we compliment each other well. He doesn't give much away, He's tall, bouncy, doesn't move the ball a lot but I think his accuracy is his real key. With me I am a little bit smaller and slower and my key is swinging the ball, whether it is normal swing or reverse, probably my change of pace too. If he is bowling really fast and not letting them score, then sometimes I can look a little bit better to score off, so that's where I have to be patient and build up the pressure too. I think we do that well.
Q: How is the bowling attack different from last time in 1998?
A: This time we have two experienced fast bowlers Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz. I think that's what we got this time that we did not have in 1998. We lost few fast bowlers on that tour through injury, so it was hard work on Kasprowicz and Shane Warne. Hopefully we are going to have an injury free tour this time. McGrath's accuracy, Gillespie's pace and bounce. Me and Kasprowitz are quite similar but we swing the ball, both reverse and new. I can bowl cutters and good slow balls. I can bank on line and length and if I get hit around I can vary my pace and get some control over them.
Q: You have been prone to a few injuries in your career that have kept you out of the team.
A: It's going well at the moment. It's funny with the Australian team, you don't seem to get dropped so much. You either miss out with injury and get back in with injury. We saw Brett Lee break down. That was unfortunate for he would have been a great sight for the Indian crowds. He is easily the quickest bowler I have seen and he is very emotional and he does show emotion when he gets a wicket. It's a shame he is not on this tour. I think you will see less injuries in World cricket these days. Everyone is pretty switched on with their physios and fitness experts. The public likes to see the best side that a country can put on at any given time so hopefully we will go to an era where we will have less injuries to fast bowlers.
Q: Did you test the ice vests?
A: I think it is a good idea, I haven't given it a try yet because Mumbai is fine. The climate is not so hot here but when we get down to places like Chennai and Cochin where it gets very hot, it should be worth giving a go. Anyway to get yourself recharged and recover well for your next spell or next day, it's going to be a bonus. We are going to try things like that. That's the way the Australian team is, we show a bit of innovation, anyway we can improve ourselves.
Q: What's your personal target on the Indian tour?
A: I want to enjoy myself. It's obviously a different culture than Australia, the people are very friendly here and they love their cricket and want India to win. They are always smiling. I think they appreciate good cricket and we plan on playing good cricket and hopefully I myself want to play a lot of cricket here. This tour is very important because if we win here, it's going to go down in history. This will go down above the 15 Test victories that we have had, as a golden era of Australian cricket. It's going to be a victory after 31 years and that's making history, I would want to be part of that team. That will give me immense pleasure in years to come.