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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 April 2007, 01:10 GMT 02:10 UK
No dream ending for Fleming
By Paul Grunill
BBC Sport

Stephen Fleming
For a country like ours to keep producing semi-final sides is good but we're not happy with that

Stephen Fleming

There is little room, if any, for sentiment in the world of professional sport.

But as in any other walk of life, it is sad to see a long-cherished dream go unfulfilled.

In October last year, Stephen Fleming admitted he had a "burning ambition" to win the World Cup before stepping down as New Zealand skipper.

But during that same session with the media, he also acknowledged the shortcomings which ultimately cost them their chance of glory in the Caribbean.

"The biggest worry for us is that we have been inconsistent in big tournaments," he conceded.

So it proved as they slumped to an 81-run defeat by Sri Lanka at the semi-final stage.

It was their third loss in four games after breezing through their first six at the World Cup with a 100% record.

"I dreamed the dream that I'd be lifting the World Cup - but it wasn't to be," said Fleming, after announcing he was giving up the captaincy of the one-day team.

"I'm very proud of where we've got to but disappointed we didn't go one step further but a lot of New Zealand teams have felt that hollow feeling."

It was a dream which perhaps first formed itself when Fleming led the Black Caps to victory over India in the 2000 ICC Knockout final in Kenya.

FLEMING AS ONE-DAY CAPTAIN
Matches: 218
Wins: 98
Losses: 106
Ties: 1
No results: 13

And it was given extra substance by a 3-0 win over Australia on home soil in their last tournament before the World Cup.

But for all the undoubted ability of players like Scott Styris, Jacob Oram and Shane Bond, New Zealand are a side which relies more on hard work than star quality.

Fleming admitted as much after the game with Sri Lanka when he named both their conquerors and Cup holders Australia as "more skilled than us".

But he said: "For a country like ours to keep producing semi-final sides is good but we're not happy with that.

"We're just not good enough it's as simple as that when we get to this stage other teams are better than us. And that's where we've got to improve - we have to produce players of the calibre to take us to a World Cup final and win it."

How that is to be achieved is one of the principle tasks facing New Zealand Cricket, under its new chief executive Justin Vaughan.

Stephen Fleming with the ICC Knockout Trophy
Fleming celebrates after the 2000 ICC Knockout final in Nairobi

They have after all been this far before - having also reached the semi-finals under Glenn Turner (1975), Mark Burgess (1979), Martin Crowe (1992) and Fleming (1999).

New Zealand need to increase their talent pool but it is going to take time if the performance of their youth team at the last Under-19 World Cup, where they lost to Nepal in the Plate final after failing to progress in the main competition, is any indication.

For Fleming, he will now focus on his batting in the 50-over game whilst continuing to lead the Test side.

"Stephen has been a great leader for New Zealand for quite some time now," said Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene.

"Even when I started he was captain. You could learn a lot from him. He is a very good captain and with the resources he had he has built up a very decent team."

Fleming won't get his hands on the World Cup but at least he has the respect of his peers, and maybe that's not a bad consolation prize.



SEE ALSO
Fleming quits as one-day captain
24 Apr 07 |  Cricket
Sri Lanka power into world final
24 Apr 07 |  Cricket
World Cup semi-final verdict
24 Apr 07 |  Cricket
NZ v Sri Lanka as it happened
24 Apr 07 |  Cricket
We can be champions, says Fleming
10 Apr 07 |  New Zealand
Fleming reveals World Cup dream
21 Oct 06 |  New Zealand


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