Vol. 5 Num 990 Wed. March 14, 2007  

ICC Cricket World Cup West Indies 2007
'Tigers loss helped us'

Stephen Fleming said New Zealand's task of remaining in form for six weeks would be a challenge but the length of the World Cup meant no side would go through undefeated. Bangladesh upset New Zealand in their opening warm-up game but Fleming and Lou Vincent led the team to a good win over Sri Lanka three days later.

Fleming said following on from New Zealand's unprecedented 3-0 victory over Australia in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy, the loss to Bangladesh served as a wake-up call. "What it does show is we can't afford to have a good week here and there -- we have to be on song for two months and that's always been a challenge for this side," Fleming told NZPA.

"You have to come down a little bit to come back and the Bangladesh loss did that," Fleming said. "If we hadn't bounced back and beat Sri Lanka, who are close to favourites, I'd be concerned, but we did so I'm looking forward."

Fleming said the Super Eights format would mean it was even harder for a team to win the tournament without dropping a game than in 2003. However, in that World Cup, Australia won all of their 11 matches and this year, a side would also need to win 11 to have a perfect record.

"The winner here is going to lose games," Fleming said in The Age. "Form at the right time, winning key moments and key games will be crucial."

He said Australia's five straight losses leading up to the Caribbean proved there were "no clear favourites". "(The Chappell-Hadlee series) gave us the confidence that we needed," Fleming said. "We were doing a lot of things both on and off the field which were spot-on but the performances on weren't reflecting that."

New Zealand begin their World Cup campaign on Friday when they meet England in St Lucia. Peter Fulton, the batsman who broke his little finger in the warm-up game against Sri Lanka, was optimistic he could play on Friday if required.