We really ought to have something to say about Stephen Fleming, but we really don’t.
We know that he was a brilliant captain, because we read it about a thousand times. We don’t question that fact, but we’re struggling to think of any evidence. Our first thought was of the three match Test series New Zealand drew in Australia in 2001, but looking back, Australia scored heavily and there was a lot of rain.
We also know that he wasn’t all that great at hundreds at first. It took until his 39th Test innings to reach three figures – 129 against England at Auckland. The next year he got his second Test hundred, 174 not out against Sri Lanka in Colombo. He then went another three-and-a-half years before notching his third, 105 against Australia at Perth.
He’d mastered it then though. His six remaining hundreds included 274 not out, 192, 202 and 262.
Everyone also remembers his spectacularly ballsy 134 not out against South Africa in the 2003 World Cup. New Zealand needed to win to stay in the tournament; South Africa had scored 306, which wasn’t so readily chased-down back then; and New Zealand had won just one of their previous 18 games against South Africa.
With rain shortening the match midway through, an early wicket or so could have done for New Zealand via the Duckworth-Lewis calculations, but Fleming had preserved his wicket and scored quickly enough that after the recalculations, New Zealand only needed 44 off 51 balls.
The astounding part was that the entire innings had been risk-free and stylish. It was gauged and executed to perfection.