Stephen Fleming will become the first New Zealander to play 100 Tests when he leads his team in the first Test against South Africa at Centurion. Of his 99 thus far, he has been captain for 75 Tests over a span of nine years. Cricinfo looks at the significant milestones of a proven leader.



Stephen Fleming marked his becoming New Zealand's most-capped player with a double-century at Chittagong and also overtook Martin Crowe as the country's highest run-scorer © AFP

Debut v India at Hamilton, March 1994
Being adjudged Man of the Match in your first Test is quite an emphatic way to begin a Test career but had he scored eight more second-innings runs, he would have also become the fifth New Zealander to score a hundred on debut. As it turned out, his 92 was the highest score for New Zealand in the drawn game.

Century after three years v England at Auckland, January 1997
Fleming had to wait more than three years for his first Test century and, when he did reach the landmark, his was the first of four in what was a thrilling contest. Fleming's hundred propelled New Zealand to 390 in the first innings but Alec Stewart and Graham Thorpe responded in kind and powered England to a 131-run first-innings lead. New Zealand imploded in the second innings and were 142 for 9, just 11 runs ahead, when Nathan Astle added 106 runs with Danny Morrison for the last wicket and saved the game.

Captaincy calls v England at Christchurch, February 1997
Two Tests after his first century, Fleming became New Zealand's youngest captain at 23 years and 320 days, when Lee Germon withdrew because of a groin injury. He scored 62 in the first innings but New Zealand lost the Test in spite of gaining a sizable first-innings lead. However, Germon never played again and Fleming picked up the mantle of captaincy permanently.



Drive for success: He was one of four New Zealanders to score centuries in the Perth Test in 2001 © Getty Images

First victory as captain v Sri Lanka at Dunedin, March 1997
Fleming didn't have to wait too long for his first success as captain. In his second Test at the helm New Zealand routed Sri Lanka by an innings and 36 runs. Fleming's contribution with the bat was a 59-ball 51 while Bryan young took top honours with an unbeaten 267. New Zealand went on to win the next Test at Hamilton and completed a 2-0 series win.

Twelfth win as captain v Zimbabwe at Harare, September 2000
It took Fleming 29 Tests to notch up his 12th win as captain and overtake Geoff Howarth (11 wins in 30 Tests) as his country's most successful captain. New Zealand beat Zimbabwe by eight wickets thanks to Mark Richardson and Chris Cairns who helped post a huge first-innings score of 576.

35th Test as captain v Pakistan at Christchurch, March 2001
In just his 59th Test, Fleming became New Zealand's most experienced captain by surpassing John Reid's 34 Tests as captain. The match was a high-scoring draw with Mathew Sinclair and Mohammad Yousuf scoring double-centuries. It was a disappointing match for Fleming personally, he scored 32 before being run out in the first innings.



That taste of victory: Fleming raises the trophy after New Zealand beat England at The Oval to take the series 2-1 in 1999 © Getty Images

2-1 series win in England July-August 1999
Looking to avenge two prior series defeats, Fleming's tour of England in 1999 began badly with a seven-wicket defeat at Edgbaston. New Zealand came back strongly at Lord's, winning the second Test by nine wickets. A draw at Old Trafford meant that both teams would contest the final Test at the Oval with the series at stake. Fleming top-scored with 66 as New Zealand posted 236 in their first innings. England collapsed for 153 and New Zealand completed an 83-run win to take the series 2-1.

Holding Australia to a draw November 2001
Fleming had lost two series to Australia before the 2001-02 tour and the resulting 0-0 draw hides the fact that they were ten runs shy of winning the first Test and three wickets away from clinching the last. Fleming scored 237 runs in five innings with two half-centuries, and a hundred in the third Test at Perth.

Reaching 200 v Sri Lanka at Colombo, April 2003
Fleming's first double-century spanned nearly 11 hours and took New Zealand to an impregnable 515 for 7 at the end of which he was unbeaten on 274. But Hashan Tillakaratne replied with a century of his own and Sri Lanka replied with 483. Fleming remained unbeaten on 69 in the second innings as well as the match meandered to a draw.

Two birds with one stonev Bangladesh at Chittagong, October 2004
In his 87th Test - the most for any New Zealander - Fleming swept past Martin Crowe's tally of 5444 runs with the second double-hundred of his career. Smashing 21 fours and a six during his 202, Fleming dominated a fledgling attack as New Zealand posted 545 for 6. Daniel Vettori bowled New Zealand to victory by an innings and 101 runs by taking six wickets in each innings.

George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo