Stephen Fleming © Getty Images
Stephen Fleming © Getty Images

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

Mumbai: Aug 22, 2014

Stephen Fleming, the Chennai Super Kings coach, backs the Indian team to try and bounce back in the One-Day International (ODIs) series against England. India were beaten 3-1 in the Test series on a tour that has seen them struggle in recent times. Fleming also said that when a team does not play well, the pressure does come on the captain as a result.

Speaking at an event organised by Education New Zealand in Mumbai, when asked about MS Dhoni’s captaincy and Duncan Fletcher, Fleming said, “I think first and foremost the players played badly and in my experience there is only so much you can do as a coach. The real issue is that the Indian players played poorly in the last three Tests. If there are deeper issues at play, then it is up to the coach and captain and the man management and the team to get to it. The first point to make sure is that communication is strong between the captain, coach and the team. When you are under pressure, one of the first things that can be solved is communication. We know working in isolation or in a little group, you are achieving very little. When things are going well, you are bubbly and talkative and natural communication flows.”

Fleming said the Indian players would be eager to bounce back, “Knowing MS and a number of those players, they would be pretty determined to turn it around. I would expect them to bounce back very well in the one-day series. But they do need to take lessons out of this passage.”

Fleming also said that if a captain has to be replaced, there has to be someone ready to take on the mantle. He said, “It is fine just to say that the captain has to go, but if you are giving the problem to someone else without a strong solution then you are just papering over the problem. But how far you go with that will be a Board decision. That comes down to what the succession plan is. Who is next in line, who is putting pressure on Dhoni? He may still be the man for the job but there might need to be some changes within and without. Those questions need to be asked rather than the emotional black and white, he has got to go.”

Fleming spoke at the event about his association with Education New Zealand, that saw him interact with young students. He also stated how sports can play a role in a country. “In New Zealand, Rugby is passed down from one generation to another. Similarly, in India, it is cricket.”

Speaking about his association with Chennai, Fleming said, “I call Chennai my home away from home. I have understood India in my time and this has allowed me to understand the culture.” He also narrated a hilarious incident when he was first made coach of Chennai. Though he was selected as a player and featured in the first season, Fleming became the coach in 2009.

“I signed up as a player in 2008 and though I was mainly a Test player, I played T20 then. But next year, I was made coach. I was determined to do well and I made a presentation for my first meeting. The Western players sat in the front and the Indian guys were seated behind. I went through my presentation with quotes from Vince Lombari etc and thought I had done well. I went around the room to ask for feedback. When I asked an Indian player, he said, “Sir, you speak too fast, I do not understand what you say.””