Following India's debacle in the Test series in England, India captain MS Dhoni has come in the line of fire. On Friday, former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming and Dhoni’s coach at the Chennai Super Kings joined the chorus, stating that India’s performance in England warranted tough questions to the skipper.
Asked if he would be open to an international coaching stint based on the fact that the Board has appointed Ravi Shastri as the team director in England overriding the presence of India coach Duncan Fletcher, Fleming did not rule out a possibility.
“Not at the moment, I have three young kids and they have demands on my time and they certainly won’t let me even if I wanted to go and coach. I am very happy now with Chennai,” he said.
Fleming said while working alongside Dhoni with CSK during the Indian Premier League (IPL) he noted that the wicketkeeper-batsman can think on his feet. Fleming felt it has not always worked in India's favour in the longer format.
“In T20s, Dhoni has seldom slipped. During the Tests in England too he had his moments. The short-ball strategy in the first two Tests worked well in his favour. However, fortunes to change so quickly is somewhat astonishing and does warrant answers from the captain,” said Fleming.
After India’s 1-3 loss, a management overhaul has been initiated by an embattled BCCI, with part of the coaching staff replaced.
According to Fleming though, the coaching staff can only help up to a point and the onus should be on the players to step up. “The players have to put the focus on them. If players play badly there is only so much a coach can do,” he said. “Sometimes deflecting that responsibility on to coaches can dilute the real issue which is India played poorly in the last three Tests,” he added.
Fleming felt India could look at cultivating Test specialists, who would only focus on the longer format. He however added that the Board would need to compensate such players as they would miss out on opportunities in the IPL. “I understand that tournaments like the IPL do take up a lot of the players’ free time for two months. Maybe, it is time for boards to look at Test specialists,” he said.
“A lot of countries are doing it. However, to keep a player out of the IPL they might have to compensate with remuneration or another form because all players want to play the IPL so there will have to be a pretty strong directive to keep them away,” Fleming opined.