Cricket: Vettori for captain as Fleming hits 145

By David Leggat

It's not hard to picture Stephen Fleming glancing over his shoulder these days.

Yesterday Daniel Vettori was confirmed New Zealand's captain for the inaugural Twenty20 world championship in South Africa next month, with Fleming overlooked.

And that means Vettori has two of the three national captaincy jobs, having been anointed as Fleming's ODI replacement shortly after the longtime leader resigned from the limited-overs game at the end of this year's World Cup.

New Zealand coach John Bracewell said yesterday that he had no problems with the philosophy of two captains for the national team. Equally he's confident if the new selection panel, to be chosen shortly, wanted Vettori to do all three versions, leaving Fleming to concentrate solely on his test batting, the 28-year-old allrounder would do a top job.

He maintained Fleming was still "our No 1 test batter" but was reluctant to endorse Fleming as test skipper, primarily because the incoming panel may have "strong, compelling arguments" for Vettori, or another candidate.

Bracewell has been pushing the leadership collective idea within the New Zealand squad for some time and is happy with progress.

"As things stand now, we've got four potentially very good leaders within our side who could step in and captain the side in any or all three forms and do a very good job," he said yesterday, without naming them, although Jacob Oram and wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum are sure to be among the quartet.

"We've groomed Dan for some time and he's been a very good leader of this group - and a good leader of our leadership group, and its concept. He's embraced and enhanced it."

Vettori, along with four others in the squad, has yet to play an international Twenty20 game - New Zealand have played six since 2005 - but Bracewell had no qualms.

"There will be a lot of players going to South Africa who haven't played it yet," he said.

Fleming was overlooked for the Twenty20 squad for several reasons, including his 34-year-old legs in a game designed to be played at a hectic pace; to give him a break after the gruelling World Cup and time to get his test game in order ahead of a busy season ahead; and to give Vettori space to put his imprint on the side.

Bracewell said it was important Fleming was fresh for a season of 10 tests against three countries, South Africa, Bangladesh and England, home and away.

On a day he may have felt the sand shifting beneath his feet, Fleming hit 145 for Nottinghamshire against Somerset in their four-day county championship game at Trent Bridge, a reminder that 13 years after his test debut, he's still rattling along.

The 15-strong squad named yesterday includes two newcomers, Otago pair Nathan McCullum and Bradley Scott. There's a recall for backup wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins three years after playing his only five ODIs, and a hint from Bracewell that there's no reason why both Hopkins and Brendon McCullum cannot play in the same XI.

NZ Twenty20 squad:

Daniel Vettori (c), Lou Vincent, Brendon McCullum, Peter Fulton, Craig McMillan, Scott Styris (subject to fitness), Ross Taylor, Jacob Oram, Gareth Hopkins, Nathan McCullum, Bradley Scott, Jeetan Patel, Mark Gillespie, Shane Bond, Chris Martin.

Schedule:

Sept 12: v Kenya, Durban
Sept 15: v Sri Lanka, Johannesburg
Sept 16-20: Second stage games
Sept 22: Semifinals, Cape Town and Durban
Sept 24: Final, Johannesburg

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