Farewell to Fleming
Bob Willis and David Lloyd pay tribute to a "great ambassador for cricket", the retiring Stephen Fleming.
Last Updated: 25/03/08 10:22am
David Lloyd and Bob Willis led the praise for retiring New Zealand ex-captain Stephen Fleming on Tuesday in Napier, the day he played his last innings for his country.
Fleming, who captained New Zealand 80 times in Test matches between 1997 and 2006, scored 66 in New Zealand's pursuit of 551, just enough to make sure his career average will be the right side of 40 when all is said and done in Napier.
Tears were shed, by Fleming's wife and perhaps a few others in the crowd, and it was an emotional farewell to a much-loved and admired cricketer.
England gave him a guard of honour as he came to the crease and lined-up for a standing ovation when he was caught by Tim Ambrose off Monty Panesar, and Lloyd said it was a mark of respect for a "great ambassador".
"Not a dry eye in the house," said Lloyd to Sky Sports at the close of play. "Elegant, stylish and that is Stephen Fleming. A great ambassador for New Zealand cricket.
"He will be telling fibs also if he said that he didn't feel a little bit of emotion there. He has been a fine player and he has got to his little, magical average of 40.
"(There is) a lot of respect for Stephen Fleming worldwide, the way that he conducted himself and the way that he got the best out of the team. He is just a stylish ambassador, an elegant lad; he really is.
"He'll be playing some cricket but Mrs Fleming will have him in the house and under her feet now, like we all did."
Willis agreed with his co-commentator, saying Fleming proved himself an excellent captain against the best teams in the world despite playing with a relatively weak New Zealand side.
"He has been the perfect frontman for New Zealand cricket," he said. "He is an excellent example to any young player coming into the game about how you conduct yourself on the field.
"He is a tough competitor. He sometimes gives the impression maybe of being too much of a gentleman but he has locked horns with the Australians, the best team in the world, he has worked out ways of getting their best players out with a limited bowling attack.
"I felt sorry for him as captain, he never really had the side around him to make him one of the most successful captains of all time but he did win more Test matches that he lost with a very ordinary team."