Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming believes that his side’s go-to mantra of banking on experience is the single biggest factor behind them being a powerhouse in the IPL. Fleming further feels that the pre-season camp CSK held back home has served as a ‘blessing in disguise’ to the team.
The names of Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni are often brought up in discussions surrounding “CSK Loyalists” but one man who has been with the club through thick and thin is their coach Stephen Fleming, who started as a player for the franchise. After taking over as the side’s head coach in 2009, Fleming has transformed CSK into one of the greatest T20 franchise teams in the world and he has done so through his own philosophy.
The philosophy has been nothing but banking on experience and putting faith on the big names to deliver and thus far it has worked like a charm, with the side winning three IPL titles and two CLT20 trophies. Ahead of his side’s IPL 2020 opener versus Mumbai Indians on Saturday, the 47-year-old stressed that experience has been the single biggest factor behind CSK’s success.
"We've got experienced players, and experienced players identify key times and that's why they've done so well in their careers, that they can turn games, absorb pressure or just sum out the situation. That's what experience is about and that's why we value it so highly. And that's why we've been able to get over the line in so many close games because the key player has been one with a lot of experience,” Fleming told CSK’s official website on Friday.
Champions in 2018 and finalists in 2019, Chennai’s 2020 got off to an inauspicious start with 13 team personnel, including two players, testing positive for Covid-19. The reason behind the same was believed to be the pre-season camp which the side held in Chennai prior to flying to Dubai and the club management came under fire for the same. However, with now everyone fit and firing, Fleming is of the opinion that the early training the players got under their belt, and the extra rest they got inside the hotel rooms, might, in fact, be a blessing in disguise.
"We didn't get off to a great start, with some positive Covid-19 cases, but I think we dealt with it very well. We were calm around our approach, looked after the players and staff very well, and the rest of the players were calm in the hotel room.
“There was a bit of anxiety wanting to get out and train. It is what it is, and the players dealt with it very well. In hindsight, the amount of pre-season training that we've done up to now, and the extra few days in the room, was probably a blessing," Fleming said.
Heading into CSK’s opener versus Mumbai on Saturday, all eyes will unsurprisingly be on one man, MS Dhoni, who announced his international retirement last month. There have been question marks about the 39-year-old’s fitness but Fleming restated that the veteran is fit and raring to go.
"It [Dhoni's training methods] has been no different. He's very fit and mentally he's been very engaged and determined. In some ways the break can work for the experienced and older players that we have. MS is fresh and ready to go."
CSK will clash with MI at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi in the curtain-raiser on Saturday.