Fleming reflects on Republic tour

BLACKCAPS captain Stephen Fleming is confident his team are ‘not far away from competing with the best’ after their tour of South Africa.

Fleming felt that despite the Proteas’ 2-0 series victory, completed by a four-wicket win in the third Test at The Wanderers, his side can contend with the world’s top Test nations.

“We’re not far away,” he said. “You add Shane Bond to our attack and it’s another dimension. Look, we’re not too far away from competing with the best, but we’re still a little bit short with work to do.”

The skipper felt the home triumph was largely down to the performance of bowlers Makhaya Ntini and Dale Steyn.

Man-of-the-series Ntini took 20 wickets, while youngster Steyn continued his emergence with seven wickets in Johannesburg.

Fleming said: “They were too good for us in crucial situations. They’ve come off a tough series with Australia and in this series, and with the way they played this series, they were all the better for it.

“We created chances but just not good enough to get across the line. Graeme’s men at key times played very well.

“They had a fantastic new ball attack in Makhaya and Dale. I think they played well in all the Tests and that set the standard in a lot of the matches.”

Fleming now added his team’s sights were set on next summer, with October’s Champions Trophy signalling the start of a crucial season.

He commented: “We’re going to winter well and get things in order for that. Back in to the black uniforms and we’re looking forward a successful One-Day summer with the World Cup at the end of it.“

Counterpart Graeme Smith, man of the match in the third Test, said: “It’s great to finish the season the way we have and to finish in three days is always nice. Today it was always important for us to be positive.”

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