Dubai: Stephen Fleming, former New Zealand captain and one of the most successful coaches in the Twenty20 franchise leagues, is ready to embrace the challenge of making his ‘debut’ in the T10 format at the helm of Bengal Tigers.
“From a coaching point of view, the idea of coaching players in this format is wonderful. It is different and refreshing. I looked into this format held last year when it was introduced. Personally, I feel it is a great format and I thoroughly enjoyed it and the challenge ahead is on how to play it,” he said in an interaction with the media.
When Gulf News asked whether he will have to indulge in more meticulous thinking and planning than the Indian Premier League (IPL), Fleming said: “People think that the shorter version is less thinking but it is essentially more. T20 and T10 is not just about strategy because you have to react very quickly. The players and the bowlers have to make decision on each ball. So everything gets condensed down and it can be quiet stressful and really tests the skills in the players. I like it as a coach and get the tactics right and give the correct training.”
Lauding Anis Sajan, the team’s owner as well as mentor, Fleming said: “Anis’ contribution has been immense. Not only he is a team owner but also part of the team’s think tank. It has helped me and the team and he has also helped create a family that has come together for a short space of time and do things effectively. The professionalism and earnestness can be seen and that makes my job easy,” said Fleming.
Sajan, who carries with him the experience of being the mentor of local cricket teams and India’s indoor team in the indoor World Cup, has learnt from the last edition of the T10 League and shaped the team this year. “The biggest task was to ensure and pick players who will be available. Last year, six of my players dropped out. Any format is always a learning experience in its first year. So you try and take out what the teams did to go on to win the game and what the teams did not do to better themselves. It is something we have learnt and I will share it with the team,” said Sajan.
Fleming is delighted to have India’s Zaheer Khan in the squad. “He (Zaheer) used to get me out a lot and so to have him in my side is great. I watched him last night at the nets (during training), he was swinging the ball and has the variation. He still competitive as he finished playing only 12 months ago and looks fit and hopefully, will play a big role.”
Fleming is happy with the team for the challenge. “It is an all-round team. We have got three of the best spinners for shorter format. Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Sunil Narine and Mohammad Nabi. I have huge respect for Nabi and I feel he is a very underrated player. We have specialists in batting and players with all-round abilities like Kevon Cooper, Sam Billings, Jason Roy, Rayad Emrit and talented Ali Khan. I am happy with the options we have got and we have covered a lot of areas. “
Morne Morkel, who will spearhead the bowling attack, said: “I am excited to be part of this family. The key for bowling is to get used to the conditions quickly. Luckily, I have played for South Africa against Pakistan here and so knows about the wicket and conditions. It is going to be a testing competition between bat and ball and it is just a matter of staying cool in that 10 overs and try and win.”