T10 League: Stephen Fleming embraces 'refreshing' role as Bengal Tigers coach

Former New Zealand captain is looking forward to the second edition of the 10-over tournament in Sharjah

NEW DELHI, INDIA - SEPTEMBER 7: (Editor’s Note:  This is an Exclusive shoot of Hindustan Times) Former New Zealand Cricketer Stephen Paul Fleming during an interview at HT Office on September 7, 2016 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Amal Ks/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
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After unparalleled success coaching in the world’s most lucrative and best watched league, Stephen Fleming hardly needed a gig in the T10 League to further himself.

The man at the helm of Chennai Super Kings, the reigning Indian Premier League champions, will still be in the dug-out in Sharjah this week, though.

The celebrated former New Zealand captain has been signed up as the coach of the Bengal Tigers for the second season of the 10-over competition.

He says two things appealed most about coming to the T10 League. Firstly, the working hours, in an event where matches are scheduled to last a mere 90 minutes.


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And, secondly, the fact that the newness of the format means there are many variables that will test his coaching know-how.

“From a coaching point of view, it is a dream,” Fleming said, at the offices of Bengal’s sponsors, Danube Properties, on Monday.

“Having to coach the players for 20 overs is wonderful and not having to sit there for day upon day, watching lots of cricket.

“It is different, it is refreshing. What we are learning is the way to play it. There are still so a whole load of unknowns, and from a coaching point of view I really love that as well.”

The competition starts on Wednesday, when Rajputs face Karachians, starting at 6.30pm at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, before Kerala Kings start their title defence against Pakhtoons.

Bengal do not begin their campaign until the second day, when they start against Northern Warriors, one of the new teams in a competition that has been expanded to eight, up from six last year.


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“I looked last year with interest, at how it would go and how it would be played, and also at feedback from players, which is important,” Fleming said.

“From person to person they came back saying it was a great concept and they had thoroughly enjoyed the tournament.

“They weren’t sure where it was going to go, and where it would sit within cricket. I have heard a lot of conversation since, about Olympics, potentially.

“From our point of view, it is a competition that has world-class players. It is a concept that is exciting for the fans.”

Maratha Arabians, who also start their campaign on Thursday, won their first practice match together ahead of the competition, as they beat UAE at The Sevens on Monday evening.

A number of people involved had mixed allegiances. Zahoor Khan bowled an over for UAE, before swapping back and bowling two for Maratha, who he will be representing for a second season.

And Dougie Brown, the UAE coach, was wearing opposition colours, too, as he was overseeing the Arabians side while Wasim Akram, the head coach, was briefly back in Pakistan for the Pakistan Super League draft.

“The guys are learning on the hoof, many of them weren’t involved last year, and what tonight showed is you have to be absolutely on top of your skills,” Brown said, after Maratha’s 14-run win.