Stephen Fleming. One of the finest minds in cricket. A three-time Indian Premier League winner as coach of Chennai Super Kings. Trent Rockets. Meet your Men's Head Coach. His thoughts ahead of The Hundred.
EXCITED TO RETURN TO TRENT BRIDGE?
I am. It was a pretty special part of my career. It was towards the end and for a number of reasons it allowed me to fall back in love with the game. My memories with Nottingham and Trent Bridge are outstanding. We had some success in the first year. But it was more to do with the time in my career and just looking to play the game for fun and enjoyment. I’m really looking forward to it.
EASY DECISION TO RETURN?
It just made sense. We talked about it as a family, we made a lot of friends over there and we just hadn’t seen them for a while. The conversation had come up and when the opportunity arose it was a no-brainer really. The competition and the coaching side is what I am going back for. But the friendships and the memories are ever-lasting so it was an easy decision.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE AS A COACH OF THE HUNDRED?
I think the biggest challenge is putting a team together. That’s what I have been flirting with an exploring over the last 10 years with the IPL and other leagues around the world. You really have to be on your game from the first pick in the draft and make sure you get players that represent want you stand for and how you want to play. There is a real art to it. In some ways it is also the type of character that you want to bring in.
HOW WILL YOU USE THE TACTICAL TIMEOUT?
I don’t know. I have a really bad record with the timeouts. We stop the game when we’re batting and we lose a wicket the over after so I’m conscious of looking at my strategy around timeouts. You can sometimes get caught a little cold. You’re engaged in the game thinking like a captain on one hand and like a coach on the other. On the odd occasion it’s needed you need to be ready to go.
WHAT ABOUT TEN BALLS FROM ONE END?
You might be carrying a fifth bowler who is a little weak or having an off day. If they get a wicket it might be an opportunity to get those balls through. There’s different ways of looking at it. The captain is probably going to have the most pressure on needing to make the call rather than just having a general philosophy on it. That’s going to be one of the exciting aspects of it. There’s gong to be some hits and misses. It will be good to see the impact it has on the game.
IS THERE CHATTER BETWEEN PLAYERS ABOUT THE HUNDRED?
It has piqued the interest of a number of players in Chennai. I think the usual suspects will be pretty keen to get to the UK and play in The Hundred. There’s a large amount of respect for English cricket and most of us involved have been touched by it in some shape or form. English cricket is viewed with a lot of respect and the opportunity to play in it and be a part of it is still high on players’ and coaches’ agendas.
WHO WOULD BE YOUR DREAM MEN’S AND WOMEN’S DRAFT PICK?
Ben Stokes would be the one. His pedigree at the moment and the fact he has a little bit of New Zealand blood running through him. He would be a nice one to have. For the women’s team, Ellyse Perry from Australia is a magnificent player.
WHY SHOULD PEOPLE BRING THEIR FAMILY TO THE HUNDRED?
In terms of entertainment it’s going to be a good night out. The shorter format of the game has shown that when it is played well and it’s a good game that the whole family can enjoy it. It’s not too long and it’s not played too late. The other thing that we’re really looking forward to as a family are those beautiful English twilights which go on forever. You get some unbelievable evenings if it is a good summer as it has been for the last two. There’s no better place to be than a packed Trent Bridge or a cricket ground and then wandering home.