Brendon McCullum's New Zealand team the best, says Stephen Fleming
Stephen Fleming praised skipper Brendon McCullum (left) and stated that the skipper has experienced some phenomenal growth in the captaincy role © Getty Images

Auckland: Former captain Stephen Fleming on Saturday declared the current New Zealand team “the best One-Day International side we’ve put on the park,” saying their brand of cricket has made the nation proud. The 41-year-old was at Eden Park to watch the Pool A battle between co-hosts Australia and New Zealand in a game key to deciding who tops the group.

“They’re playing a brand of cricket we can be proud of,” Fleming told the New Zealand Herald.

“The emergence of the current talent is perfectly timed with the rise of an aggressive captain in Brendon [McCullum]. I don’t think a New Zealand team has played this well and been so complete.”

Even under Fleming, who led New Zealand in 218 One-Day Internationals (ODI) — second only to Australia’s Ricky Ponting’s 230 — they failed to progress beyond the semi-finals of a World Cup. Fleming, who led New Zealand at the 1999 (semi-final), 2003 and 2007 (semi-final) World Cups, said the current players have the skill to go places.

“These guys are putting together some of the best statistics we’ve had. They now believe they’re one of the best sides in the world. It’s a bit like the All Blacks’ model where they’ve got some of the world’s best in key spots and feel they can be competitive against any opposition.”

Fleming stressed it was necessary for New Zealand to raise their standards in terms of international appeal. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Pool-wise Team Standings

“[In New Zealand] we can’t fill grounds all the time and our timezone can’t demand big TV rights. We get a good share but there are a number of handicaps. What we can change is being competitive and making ourselves attractive for teams to play. That way two Tests in England become three to four and the same will happen in Australia and India.” Top 10 bowlers in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

“Our team was missing consistency and we’ve addressed that. I know it’s hard to look past the World Cup but we’re going to have a good team for four to five years. These guys aren’t going to suddenly retire. One or two might but, come win or loss in the World Cup, the trend should be getting better.” Top 10 batsmen in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

Fleming praised skipper Brendon McCullum. “He’s experienced some phenomenal growth [in the captaincy role]. We talked about the style he wanted early on, but since then it’s been his relationship with ‘Hess’ [coach Mike Hesson] that’s developed. I love talking to him about the game, but it’s more as a mate. I can tell him what to do in Chennai [McCullum plays for Fleming’s CSK in the Indian Premier League] but the other 10 months of the year he can tell me where to go.”