Black Caps captain in cancer scare

New Zealand cricket captain Stephen Fleming has had a potentially cancerous tumour removed and will miss the first two one-day internationals against Australia.

He is scheduled to play in a State Championship match for Wellington against Canterbury on December 5 and will be considered for the final one-dayer in the Chappell-Hadlee series against Australia five days later, New Zealand Cricket said today.

"Stephen last week had a potentially cancerous tumour removed from his jaw-line in front of his left ear, and yesterday received the very good news that the tumour was benign," Black Caps general manager Lindsay Crocker said today.

"The size of the tumour caused nerve damage which was repaired with further surgery on Wednesday.

"Stephen will aim to play for Wellington in a State Championship match against Canterbury beginning in Christchurch on December 5 and will be considered for the final ODI against Australia on December 10."

Fleming was named in an extended 14-member squad for the first one-dayer when the Black Caps squad was announced on Wednesday.

The series begins in Auckland on December 3, followed by matches at Wellington's Westpac Stadium on December 7 and in Christchurch on December 10.

Daniel Vettori will captain the team in the first two matches.

"We are very pleased for Stephen who must have had a stressful time over the past week. When he was selected we did not know whether he would be available for the first match or whether he would be out for a longer period, but now hope that he will be fit to play on December 5," Crocker said.

"Daniel Vettori will captain the Black Caps which will present him with a valuable opportunity to captain the team at home against the world champions.

"Nathan Astle will step in as the vice-captain. With Stephen being ruled out of the first two matches, the squad is now 13 and no one will be added to or released from the squad for the first match."

Crocker said Fleming was recovering at home and was not available for comment.

- NZPA

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