Cricket: Fleming expected to be left out

By Dylan Cleaver

Black Caps skipper Stephen Fleming would have figured highly in conversations held yesterday as the NZ selectors met for the first time since the naming of the 20 contracted players.

The selectors - John Bracewell, Glenn Turner, Dion Nash and Sir Richard Hadlee - have met in Christchurch to choose a 14-man squad for the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa in September.

Central to discussions will be whether the new tournament is used to blood new players such as Grant Elliott, who might not otherwise be given a chance in the course of a normal season.

It is expected that Fleming's name will be missing when the 14 are read out soon, but coach John Bracewell chose not to comment ahead of the team announcement at the end of the week.

While his probable absence could be put down to routine matters of wanting to blood younger players in this all-action form of the game, it will fuel conspiracies he will retire from international cricket to take up a contract with the embryonic Indian Cricket League.

But that looks like being a moot point anyway with the ICL, backed by broadcaster Zee Sports, postponing its plans indefinitely due to a lack of players and infrastructure (such as stadia). It was originally due to have commenced next month.

The league received a further hammer blow yesterday with India cricket governing body BCCI stating that it would ban any player for life who participates in the 'rebel' league, a move replicated by Pakistan's governing body.

"Players who take part in the ICL will never be eligible to play for the country again. It is up to the players to decide what they want to do," Indian board secretary Niranjan Shan said.

So, with that threat seemingly blunted, the New Zealand selectors need only consider whether it makes any sense to take the veteran, who retired from the one-day captaincy after the World Cup.

With Fleming getting quality match play in England, not being particularly mobile in the field, or one of the game's great sloggers, his spot could be taken by one of the new breed of cricketers the selectors have been eyeing over the past 12 months.

At the top of that list is understood to be Wellington's Elliott.

The former South African age-group star - he was born in Johannesburg - had a slow start to his career in NZ, but he blossomed in the capital last season.

He put together two centuries in the State Championship while averaging a touch over 45, another century in the State Shield at an average of 47.66, and a decent 26.66 average in the State Twenty20 league.

Elliott, 28, is also a useful right-arm seamer taking 34 wickets across the three domestic competitions.

Another player to impress after displaying increasing maturity in his batting over the past two seasons is Otago's Neil Broom.

Preliminary 30-man squad: Andre Adams, Shane Bond, Neil Broom, Grant Elliott, Stephen Fleming, James Franklin, Peter Fulton, Mark Gillespie, Chris Harris, Paul Hitchcock, Gareth Hopkins, Jamie How, James Marshall, Chris Martin, Michael Mason, Brendon McCullum, Nathan McCullum, Peter McGlashan, Craig McMillan, James McMillan, Warren McSkimming, Iain O'Brien, Jacob Oram, Jeetan Patel, Aaron Redmond, Bradley Scott, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori, Lou Vincent.

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 31 Jul 2014 20:53:28 Processing Time: 888ms