MS Dhoni might steal the limelight, but Stephen Fleming is equally important for CSK

Fleming has played a huge role in Chennai Super Kings’ success in the Indian Premier League till now

Stephen Fleming (L) with MS Dhoni; Credit: Chennai Super Kings Twitter page

If the name Chennai Super Kings is mentioned, then MS Dhoni is the first name that appears out of a fan’s mouth. Rightly so! Dhoni has been part of the team since the first Indian Premier League and has played a huge part in the team’s success. He has been one of the most successful captains since the inception of the league. With his calm on-field demeanour clubbed with his astute decision making, CSK have been a threat right throughout the IPL.

However, there is an unsung hero among the ranks, who has been ever-present with CSK – Stephen Fleming. Started as a player in the first season, the former New Zealand skipper has been their coach since the second season. He has had an equal impact on the team’s success. Fleming has quietly but efficiently got the job done from behind the scenes.

It is not surprising to see Fleming excelling in the coaching role. During his captaincy stint with New Zealand, he showed his ability as a quality leader. Leading from the front, Fleming was an important member of the Kiwis’ batting line-up and his on-field calmness allowed his bowlers to express themselves. He was a big reason behind New Zealand regularly punching above their weight.

Right from the beginning of his tenure, Fleming has proven to establish his tactical acumen with CSK. He has played a major role in a lot of the decision-making done behind the scenes. It is evident in the way CSK prepare itself in matches. Be it the selection or the on-field messages from the sidelines, Fleming has always managed to get his point across to the players.

Silent orchestrator

The way he carries himself is similar to one former Indian coach Gary Kirsten. Dhoni might have been the one receiving the praise for India’s success, but Kirsten was quietly getting the job done in the background. He was the silent orchestrator. Kirsten pulled the right strings from backstage which helped India achieve tremendous success under him, including the 2011 World Cup victory.

Fleming is no different. The 45-year-old from Christchurch is happy to stay away from the limelight, which allows him to solely focus on the job in hand. He is the classic example of behind-the-scenes man. Most of Fleming’s job is done in the training ground, which allows him to stay away from the media spotlight.

His calm persona allows the players the freedom to be themselves on the pitch. In particular, the bond which Fleming shares with Dhoni is a key reason behind CSK’s success. They share similar traits. Both of them are calm under pressure. They don’t normally express their anger and disappointment on fellow players in front of the public.

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Most importantly, they are clever tacticians. Besides the planning, they get the execution right on most occasions. The connection which Fleming shares with the entire squad allows him to get his point across easily. This helps the team maintain their superiority at the top. After a disappointing last campaign, Fleming will play a key role if CSK are to reach their past success in IPL 2021.

Karthik Raman

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