Fleming dismisses rotation blame

Stephen Fleming, New Zealand's captain, has dismissed the rotation policy as a reason for his side's crushing defeatat the hands of Sri Lanka on Saturday. Fleming was rested for the first three ODIs despite a poor Test series, a decision that came under scrutiny with the defeat, but Fleming refused to take New Zealand's new policy into consideration.

"Coming in and out [of the side] is not a major factor - a couple of days off here and there is not an excuse - the guys have played enough cricket," he told reporters. "I sat back and heard the comments - I agreed with some of it, disagreed with other stuff. While it may be hard to swallow, the squad is going to be a lot better for it when the pieces come together.

"It's tough to accept because you'd love to play every game but I also want to be there on the day [March 16] when we play England [in the first game] at the World Cup fully fit, with a fully fit side around me."

Fleming's fifth-ball duck at Eden Park did little to suggest a return to form ahead of the Commonwealth Bank series that kicks off in Australia this week. Fleming felt that even an extra batsman could not have staved off defeat at Auckland. "If we played all of our guys right through and then lost three or four players in the Chappell-Hadlee series [next month] the question would be asked: `Why didn't we rest them to make sure they were right?'."

He also acknowledged the bowling of Muttiah Muralitharan and Lasith Malinga, who have given the hosts a torrid time all series. "The attack we're facing just isn't giving us enough time to settle," he said. "Malinga is posing problems and has done from the word go with the red ball. And then you've got Muralitharan... we're not even getting through to Muralitharan."

There was hope, though, for the tour of Australia. "You have to keep it in mind we've actually won two games and we won two games in the Champions Trophy," Fleming said. "It's not like we're constantly being outplayed."