Stephen Fleming admits that it is healthy for him to be aware of Daniel Vettori, New Zealand's recent stand-in captain, and his obvious capabilities at the helm of affairs.
Vettori replaced an injured Fleming as captain for the recent Chappell-Hadlee Trophy against Australia, and led New Zealand in the first two matches against Sri Lanka this past week while Fleming was on paternity leave. He proved a more-than-capable replacement in these five matches, and eyebrows have been raised as to Fleming's durability after an eight-year period in office.
Maintaining that it was in New Zealand's interest to have such talented leadership options available ahead of the World Cup in 2007, Fleming said he was keen to prove that he has much to offer. "It's important to be pricked in the sense that a challenger like Dan will bring the best out of me," Fleming said to the New Zealand Herald yesterday. "But I think we both captain the side in a similar way, simply because we've played so much of our cricket together. I don't feel threatened, but I know that Dan's development as a leader will be very important for New Zealand cricket's future."
Returning to the captaincy for today's match against Sri Lanka at Wellington, Fleming said that team-building and tactics remained his priorities. "We are looking at the development of the side," he said. "That's been one of the key themes since I've been away and now there's an opportunity to tweak our tactics on the field, as a lot of people have been advocating. We don't want to compromise our chances of winning, but we've got in our minds that this is a chance to continue the development of the team, and individuals within it."
Fleming also showed support for Chris Cairns who, despite picking up his 200th one-day international wicket at Christchurch, continued to prove one of New Zealand's most expensive front-line bowlers recently. "He probably hasn't bowled as well as he would have liked but I don't think he's far away from a three-for-30-type effort," he said. "I'm not alarmed ... I look forward to discussing that with him."