<
>

Fleming defends his captaincy

Stephen Fleming said he was still the best option to captain New Zealand despite their disappointing CB Series in Australia, where they missed the finals after a resurgent England overshadowed them in the later stages of the tournament. Fleming endured criticism of his decision-making and his own personal form during the series and there were calls for Daniel Vettori to take over the captaincy.

But as New Zealand prepared for the first game of the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy at Wellington, Fleming defended his role with the team. "Leadership and decision-making is a massive part of my game," he told NZPA. "I love the job, I love being with the team.

"What I find tiring is spending weeks when you know you're copping it. That can be a little bit draining but it's part and parcel of being New Zealand captain when you're not performing well. When you lose you're torn apart."

Steve Rixon, the former New Zealand coach, said Fleming's body language in Australia was "flat", while Adam Parore continued his criticism of Fleming's leadership and said Vettori should replace him. Fleming declined to respond directly to Parore's comments. "I think we've given Adam enough exposure this week," he said.

Fleming's own form was disappointing until he scored a century in New Zealand's last game of the tour. But his tactics in that match - his 106 came from 149 balls in an unsuccessful run-chase - divided opinion in New Zealand. "In some games I'd have loved to have had another go at it, you can do 20 different things during a game," Fleming said.

He said New Zealand were expected to win the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy with Australia's line-up missing Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds, Brett Lee and doubt surrounding Michael Clarke's fitness. "It's an oxymoron to say there's a weak Australian side -- there's no such thing," Fleming said.