Sri Lanka in New Zealand, 2005-06 December 29, 2005

Fleming to miss first ODI

Cricinfo staff

Stephen Fleming will look forward to a different kind of celebration this weekend © Getty Images

Stephen Fleming, the New Zealand captain, has pulled out of the opening one-day international against Sri Lanka to be with his wife Kelly in Wellington as the couple prepare for the birth of their first child.

He has been replaced by Nathan Astle, the out of form opener who was originally dropped from the Sri Lanka series after a disappointing time during New Zealand's recent series against Australia.

According to Lindsay Crocker, New Zealand manager, Daniel Vettori will captain the team and Astle will join them after a provincial match on Friday. Fleming will return later in the series.

Fleming joins Andre Adams on the absent list, the latter already out having broken a bone in his right hand. James Franklin, who like Astle had been dropped after a poor showing in Australia, has been drafted in as a replacement for Adams.

An earlier version of this story with information from NZPA said Fleming's wife had given birth already. She has not.

John Bracewell, the New Zealand coach, meanwhile played down the effect of key absences in his side. He was quoted by as saying, "It's something you have to get used to. I think over the last two years we have got used to guys coming in and out. We lost Shane (Bond) almost on the morning of the (first) match (against Australia), and lost Stephen. All sorts of little things happen and we have to get used to it and react to it. Especially when we're as far away as the West Indies in the (2007) World Cup. We can't just fly somebody in. We have to become an adaptable squad."

Bracewell also spoke about the inconsistency that has dogged the team recently. "We seem to get one part of our game right and have two fall away. We need to pick up some rhythm from what we did in the last series. We started to grow as a team. That's really the main focus for me over these next four games is trying to continue some sort of rhythm."