Home > Features > Interviews >

Stephen Fleming: New Zealand tour to England in 1999 is one of my best moments

Stephen Fleming led New Zealand for a decade from 1996 © Getty Images
Stephen Fleming is New Zealand’s leading run scorer in Tests and ODIs © Getty Images

Stephen Fleming’s legacy as a leader in New Zealand’s cricket history is secure as he led the side with distinction for almost a decade. In a chat with Nishad Pai Vaidya, Fleming looks back at his tenure at the helm and a lot more.

Stephen Fleming is New Zealand’s leading run-scorer in Tests and One-Day Internationals (ODIs). However, his true legacy lies in his leadership as he showed the path to a New Zealand side with a spirit to take on the world. Though New Zealand weren’t the strongest side, Fleming’s leadership was astute, and helped them script many successful stories in his time at the helm that lasted almost a decade.

In a conversation with CricketCountry, Fleming talks about his captaincy, some of his finest moments and a lot more.

Excerpts:

CricketCountry (CC): This isn’t exactly a time when a cricketer would visit India. What brings you here?

Stephen Fleming (SF): It is a very important time for Education New Zealand. I am an ambassador for Education New Zealand and we have a week of education fairs and a part of my role is to bring a bit of a profile to the campaign because we have got some unbelievable opportunities for students in New Zealand. We are raising awareness in India because we identify it as a place where the middle class sector is searching for their children to be well-educated and compete. We’ve got some education fairs in some main centres, where I also meet school children.

CC: In a country where rugby is the most popular sport, how did you take up cricket?

SF: I played rugby in the winter. We played that in the winter and cricket in the summer. But, I wasn’t a good enough rugby player and cricket was taking over. So, I was able to make a choice.

CC: You became captain in 1996-97, still young at the highest level. How difficult was that for you?

SF: I was still young, full stop! (laughs) In some ways, my naivety helped. I was accepting a role; I didn’t understand the enormity of it. I had a good grip of the young people around me at the time, which grew together and I developed a style that allowed the team and I to explore different ways to do things. We weren’t the most skillful sides around, but we were the best planned because we had to be. We had confidence to try things because we knew that if we did it the traditional way, we wouldn’t be able to compete with the best. So we enjoyed being innovative. In some ways, it was like New Zealand’s way of doing things — try and be innovative, compete and punch beyond our size.

CC: Ricky Ponting mentioned in his book that there were times when captaincy made him so focused on leadership that he couldn’t pay attention to his batting. Did it ever happen with you?

SF: I think so. But, I became conditioned to it though. I would hide behind it at times if I wasn’t batting very well and it got me out of trouble at times. It ebbs and flows. I think if I didn’t have my captaincy, I would have been a better batsman as I would have mentally had more time to put on it and been under more pressure to get runs. Sometimes, captaincy makes you switch off a little bit and not be as good as you should be. I didn’t push myself as much as I would have if I was only batting with the constant need to get runs.

CC: What would you pick as the best time of your captaincy? Would it be the 1999 World Cup, the 274 in Test cricket or the century against South Africa in the 2003 World Cup?

SF: The 1999 series in England was great. It was the first time we really strategized in a precise way. What flowed in the next two-three years was excellent. We once beat Australia in Australia. We didn’t lose at home. That was really good strategy in leadership from the team, not me. They were my best times. The other two (274 and the ton against South Africa) were individual battles and don’t give me as much thrill as leading a team with good strategy and plans come to a fruition.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Live Cricket Score Duleep Trophy Central Zone vs South Zone, final at Delhi Day 3: Faiz Fazal dismissed by Vinay Kumar on 72

Live Cricket Score Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test at Abu Dhabi Day 2

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

Younis Khan’s ban: why the ICC is justified

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: Central Zone 138/1 at Tea; Faiz Fazal unbeaten on 60

Pakistan 405/3 against Australia at lunch on Day 2 of 2nd Test

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: Faiz Fazal brings up fifty; Central Zone 128/0 after 37 overs

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Michael Clarke unhappy over Steve Smith’s friendly chat with Azhar Ali

Australia vs South Africa 2014: South Africa move in with hope of victory against Australia in T20I

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Manish Pandey showing signs of fulfilling potential

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

Mythbusting — the claim that playing for a weaker batting side handicaps a batsman has no basis

Younis Khan’s ban: why the ICC is justified

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

India A vs Sri Lanka: Fringe players look to impress

NGOs pursue education for all

Dance Basanti from Ungli: Put on your dancing shoes and practice the Basanti move!

Weight Loss Tip #59: Eat oranges to lose weight

Sensex surges 150 points in early trade to regain 27,000-mark

PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Google to offer business solutions to clients

Google X Lab working on nanoparticles to help detect diseases early

Priyanka Chopra has the best no make-up selfie on Instagram, think fans!

Lisa Haydon: I slept off midway while watching the original Shaukeen!

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here