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December 14, 2006
The controversy surrounding Muttiah Muralitharan's run-out in the first Test at Christchurch has been reignited by Stephen Fleming, New Zealand's captain, on the eve of the second Test at Wellington. Two days after Sri Lanka said they had put the issue behind them - while maintaining the run out was bad sportsmanship - Fleming accused the tourists of taking the gloss off New Zealand's five-wicket victory.
"We won't necessarily move on," he told reporters. "It's a mistake by them and they covered it up by taking the moral high ground. We won a good Test match and it's been diluted by that situation. We're very proud of any Test win we get and to have that not mentioned or talked about is annoying."
Mahela Jayawardene, Fleming's opposite number, was surprised that the issue had been brought up again but stood by his original opinion. "I've played enough cricket to know that was unsportsmanlike," he said. "It's over for us now. If Stephen wants to talk about it then he obviously has something in his mind which is bothering him."
New Zealand's batting has been an issue of concern - as Fleming pointed out, "We weren't convincing winners [in Christchurch], there's still enough areas of concern to have us twitchy going into this game," - and the major threat remains Muralitharan.
New Zealand's top spinner, meanwhile, has voiced his opinion on the seam-friendly pitches used both at Christchurch and Wellington. "It's disappointing, it makes it tough being a spin bowler in this country," Daniel Vettori told stuff.co.nz. "It makes it difficult growing up aspiring to be a spin bowler. What do you have to look forward to? You want wickets that everyone can play a role in. I haven't seen those for an extended period of time. In terms of the wickets we play on and the conditions, you get so much more done with fast bowling and medium pace."
Vettori admitted that playing a supporting role on such pitches was difficult. "It's a little bit depressing sometimes not actually bowling," he said. "I'm so used to contributing in most games I play that when you stand out in the field and not do much it makes it tough."
In Vettori's view, such pitches could precipitate a downslide in New Zealand's fortunes overseas."If we want to produce teams to win test matches we need to keep encouraging spinners to come through the system because otherwise we're never going to consistently win overseas," he said. "The only teams that win in India and Pakistan, and even Australia, are teams with good spin bowlers. If you don't have one of those you're not going to compete at Test-match level."
Teams (from): New Zealand: Stephen Fleming (capt), Craig Cumming, Jamie How, Mathew Sinclair, Nathan Astle, Jacob Oram, Brendon McCullum (wk), Daniel Vettori, James Franklin, Shane Bond, Chris Martin, Iain O'Brien (one to be omitted).
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillekaratane Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedera, Chamara Silva, Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), Farveez Maharoof, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Akalanka Ganegama, Muttiah Muralitharan (three to be omitted).
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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