Stephen Fleming: Balance of Power (2004) - The Wightman Review.
Biography of Fleming’s international career, up until the end of the tour of England in 2004. Actually somewhere between a biography and an auto-biography, with sports journalist Boock contributing the majority of the texts with occasional input from Fleming. Fleming’s contributions are occasionally helpful, but he tends to repeat what has been written before, and his prose is cliche ridden, with linguistic gems such as “He’d been there and done that, sort of thing” (p74). Boock himself is no literary master, regaling us with “The inclusion of Plummer in the management team was another case of Turner almost getting it right, but still missing the target by a wide margin”. (p114)
We are provided with insight into Fleming’s captaincy style, which can be summarised as well-prepared, flexible and pragmatic. His players should be allowed to be themselves, to go out on the town occasionally, to sledge, if that improves their overall performance. He learns more about captaincy the more he does it, naturally, and gradually prefers a method where everyone in the team is responsible for research, preparation, tactics, input - they are all captains to a degree, just that Fleming has the final say.
There are also technical discussions, such as whether a batsman’s first movement should be back or forward, and whether a batsman should play around his front pad. The final answer is that there is no answer, it must be dependent on the circumstances.
Fleming has high opinions of Rixon, Trist, Aberhart and Bracewell, and a mixed opinion of Turner - enjoying his tactics but not his management style. “Fleming considered the move to appoint Germon to the position (of captain) before he’d even played a test be risky to the point of recklessness”. (p115)
To the book’s great credit, it is told in chapters that have a theme, rather than the usual (mostly dreadful) chronological trudge of cricket biographies. Although within these chapters, the changes of subject are frequently jarring. A little more editing and fact-checking would have helped, but not bad overall. A LOT better than recent efforts from Vettori and Astle. A bit of a shame we don’t get to read about the 2007 shambles over Fleming losing the test captaincy.
Fujitsu Heat Pump Literary Moisture Scale Rating - Moist-to-Wet-Medium-Tepid. (Low - Cool Dry / High - Hot-Damp-Dry-Moist)