ZIM v NAM (1)
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4-Day Championship (3)
New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming admitted a sense of relief over his innings of 67 in the fourth loss to Sri Lanka in Hamilton today.
It was his best innings of the home summer and the best since his 85 in the fourth One-Day International in South Africa last year.
"It was a relief, it was a start anyway," he said of his drive to recover his best touches.
Fleming said he did nothing different but there was no doubt that he was in an attacking frame of mind in setting a notable example to his side.
But the disappointment of a loss, again, under the Duckworth-Lewis method this time was plain to see. Even acknowledging an improved effort was not enough for Fleming.
"It is hard to say what sort of value you put on improved performances any more. Results are really what count and once again we haven't come up with the goods.
"While internally there were things we did well, and yes there were some improvements, it is eating away at us," he said.
There were aspects of the game that were unsatisfactory. The finish time set for 8.34pm was too late and was an unrealistic expectation that the light would hold up until that time.
Fleming said the type of situation that resulted was one that should be held for future reference to say that to schedule a game to end at 8.30pm in Hamilton would be a risk.
The home team also got bogged down at a vital stage of the game by the Sri Lankan spinners.
"One thing with a big spinning attack, it is very hard if you lose a couple of wickets. It is very hard to maintain momentum. Spinners aren't always that easy to pick the gaps, especially for new guys coming in.
"The quicker you want to score sometimes the harder it is," he said.
New Zealand coach David Trist was pleased with the improvements shown by fast bowlers Chris Martin and Daryll Tuffey.
"The more experience they get the better they are going to get. They came back well in their second spell. Those second spells give us something to go forward with.
We will work on some things at the two practices before the next game. I anticipate further improvement," he said.
Fleming went so far as to say that he thought, "The second spell from the two fast bowlers pulled us back into the game, it was good for them and good for us."
The case of an opening partner for Nathan Astle is no nearer solution however.
Fleming said some good discussion had occurred over his decision not to open the innings as selection chairman Sir Richard Hadlee had hinted at the weekend.
Adam Parore was tried today but scored a duck. He was the 12th player used in a bid to find a suitable partner for Astle.
"We tried it, but it didn't pay dividends," Trist said.
"We would reassess it. The uncomfortable fact is, we haven't really found a partner for Nathan for some time and we continue the search," Trist said.