James Franklin ready to show who's boss

JONATHAN MILLMOW
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2012
James Franklin bowling for the Firebirds.
Andrew Gorrie/ FAIRFAX NZ
James Franklin bowling for the Firebirds.

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James Franklin is looking forward to his debut as Wellington Firebirds' captain on Friday night.

Fifteen seasons after he first pulled on Wellington colours, Franklin takes the reins for a Twenty20 match against Central Districts in Napier.

He replaces Grant Elliott for one game before presumably Franklin jumps on another plane and heads to South Africa with the New Zealand one-day side.

Many see Franklin as a follower rather than a leader and his body language has been compared to that of a doddery aunt, but Franklin has been around the block and is excited at the honour.

His style of captaincy is expected to be in keeping with his laidback manner, think more Stephen Fleming than Steve Waugh.

"I won't be crossing my arms and kicking the dirt too much," Franklin said.

"I'm genuinely looking forward to it."

Franklin's top flight captaincy experience is limited to leading New Zealand A in Zimbabwe two years ago.

He can hear the critics, those that believe his style is not conducive to captaining a side.

But he hopes to be judged on performance and results - well in this case, result.

"I've got to be pro-active and I'll throw ideas at bowlers about possible field placings.

"Who knows, captaincy might be a good thing for me in terms of my body language and all that stuff that people have crapped on about for years."

Franklin, 32, talks about being "compassionate to bowlers" because of the fine-line between a good day and a grave one for the leather slingers.

Franklin is coming off a setback in Sri Lanka. He was dropped for the second test in Colombo after a poor test in Galle, when he scored three and two. The first innings knock was out of character for a man well known for hitting balls into nearby rest homes.

He scratched around for 42 balls before being put out of his misery by Ragana Herath.

"I came across a field [set] with Herath that I have never come across before, "Franklin said.

"They took my boundary options away, they had two guys at mid-wicket that took away my ones and they had a bat pad.

"It is not an excuse, but it was a field that I had not come across before and I struggled. It was a seven [leg side] - two [off-side] field.

"He was deadly accurate. He took 11 wickets in the game and I had a bad game, though I wasn't the only one."

After the first test mauling the New Zealand batsmen were subjected to a public letter Martin Crowe penned for Cricinfo.

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Among other things, Franklin was called on was to "show more fight" by Crowe.

"Even though I might not show it outwardly, I'm still that competitive person inside," Franklin says.

"Hogan [Crowe] might have that feel with my batting, that's cool. I like to keep things pretty cool with batting body language and go about my own rhythms.

"He's an educated guy on batting and he's entitled to his opinion. I just have to keep working on what I can control.

"Even though I might not show it, trust me, I am trying to take down bowlers."

Franklin has reviewed his game over the past few weeks and in consultation with national bowling coach Shane Bond, he is going to have another crack at bowling in the low 130kmh range rather than the mid 120kmh range.

Interview complete, Franklin heads back to the middle where the Firebirds are conducting an open-wicket session.

He stands with his bowlers and periodically talks to them about tactics.

He might be a captain after all.

- The Dominion Post

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