I want to be part of a history-making team: Fleming
Damien Fleming loves having fun and relishes the Indian conditions. He also
wants to make an impact on the tour. The tourists look like a team that can
break the 31-year-old jinx of not having beaten India at home. The
Australian team aims to make history by creating a golden era in Australian
cricket and Fleming wants his name to go down in history as a member of
this period. In an exclusive interview with CricInfo, he spoke of his
experiences on the Indian subcontinent.
Q: Do you really enjoy bowling on the Indian pitches?
A: Yeah, it's a good challenge isn't it? The wickets are a bit flatter and a bit lower than those back home. The batsmen play so well here. With the
likes of Tendulkar and Dravid making runs, it should be a challenge. That's
what Test cricket is about. It's a test and I have a little bit of success
here, so I hope it continues on this tour.
Q: What were you thinking in that last over against the West Indies in the
semi-final of the 1996 World Cup?
A: It was a great experience for me. I just came into the World Cup after
hurting my shoulder in the West Indies. Luckily in my first game against
India at Mumbai I got five wickets and Mark Waugh got 90, That really
kicked us on and we got a bit of momentum going on. The semifinal in
Chandigarh was a magic moment, We probably didn't get enough runs on the
board and the West Indies started off so well. Then it really turned around
with Steve Waugh getting Brian Lara, which got us going and Glen McGrath
and Shane Warne bowled a couple of good spells to get us down to the 49th
over. Then Mark Taylor turned over and said you're bowling the last over
and I think the scenario was eight runs to win with two wickets in hand.
Everyone was saying make sure you bowl well and put in a yorker. I ran in
and bowled a half volley and Richie Richardson just smashed it for four. I
thought i got to bowl better. We got a run out the next ball and there was
a run again and Courtney Walsh was on strike. I thought he would just run
it down and get Richie on strike again. I released the ball and it all went
in slow motion and when it hit the stumps, it was the greatest feeling in
Q: You always express yourself emotionally on the field, is that the real
A: I am sort of quite laid back off the field. I like to smile and have a
bit of a laugh. But when I am on the field, I get pretty intense and I get
little bit frustrated with myself. It is probably something I can deal with
better and not show my emotions as much on the field. I am a bit of an
emotional person. When I get a big wicket I like to go up and cheer and if
I am unlucky and I get hit for a four, I get a bit frustrated I show it. I
think the crowds like that and I like to see people just reacting and I
think the crowd can relate to that too, can't they. They don't wanna see
robots running around playing cricket do they?
Q: How will you look to tackle Tendulkar?
A: It's a good call. He's such an important player for them and I think the other cricketers play well around him when he is doing well. There are some
quality players like Ganguly and some of the other guys and some young guys
coming along as well. But really I think if we can get Tendulkar early a
few times in the Tests, it's really going to kick start us on and I think
it would be good. The last time, he got on top of us early in 1998. It
would be great if we can get on top of him early this time, so it's going
to be interesting. We all have had a lot of chats about him, working at a
couple of plans. If one doesn't work, try another and try this one. It
would be good if we get fired up early on.
Q: How do you bowl in tandem with McGrath?
A: I certainly think we compliment each other well. He doesn't give much
away, He's tall, bouncy, doesn't move the ball a lot but I think his
accuracy is his real key. With me I am a little bit smaller and slower and
my key is swinging the ball, whether it is normal swing or reverse,
probably my change of pace too. If he is bowling really fast and not
letting them score, then sometimes I can look a little bit better to score
off, so that's where I have to be patient and build up the pressure too. I
think we do that well.
Q: How is the bowling attack different from last time in 1998?
A: This time we have two experienced fast bowlers Jason Gillespie and
Michael Kasprowicz. I think that's what we got this time that we did not
have in 1998. We lost few fast bowlers on that tour through injury, so it
was hard work on Kasprowicz and Shane Warne. Hopefully we are going to have
an injury free tour this time. McGrath's accuracy, Gillespie's pace and
bounce. Me and Kasprowitz are quite similar but we swing the ball, both
reverse and new. I can bowl cutters and good slow balls. I can bank on line
and length and if I get hit around I can vary my pace and get some control
Q: You have been prone to a few injuries in your career that have kept you
out of the team.
A: It's going well at the moment. It's funny with the Australian team, you
don't seem to get dropped so much. You either miss out with injury and get
back in with injury. We saw Brett Lee break down. That was unfortunate for
he would have been a great sight for the Indian crowds. He is easily the
quickest bowler I have seen and he is very emotional and he does show
emotion when he gets a wicket. It's a shame he is not on this tour. I think
you will see less injuries in World cricket these days. Everyone is pretty
switched on with their physios and fitness experts. The public likes to see
the best side that a country can put on at any given time so hopefully we
will go to an era where we will have less injuries to fast bowlers.
Q: Did you test the ice vests?
A: I think it is a good idea, I haven't given it a try yet because Mumbai
is fine. The climate is not so hot here but when we get down to places like
Chennai and Cochin where it gets very hot, it should be worth giving a go.
Anyway to get yourself recharged and recover well for your next spell or
next day, it's going to be a bonus. We are going to try things like that.
That's the way the Australian team is, we show a bit of innovation, anyway
we can improve ourselves.
Q: What's your personal target on the Indian tour?
A: I want to enjoy myself. It's obviously a different culture than
Australia, the people are very friendly here and they love their cricket
and want India to win. They are always smiling. I think they appreciate
good cricket and we plan on playing good cricket and hopefully I myself
want to play a lot of cricket here. This tour is very important because if
we win here, it's going to go down in history. This will go down above the
15 Test victories that we have had, as a golden era of Australian cricket.
It's going to be a victory after 31 years and that's making history, I
would want to be part of that team. That will give me immense pleasure in
years to come.