Former New Zealand cricketer Stephen Fleming and the coach of the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Chennai Super Kings admits the tournament may be surrounded by controversy, but he is happy that it’s still flourishing despite the betting and spot-fixing scandal.
CSK has been under the cloud for some time now with Board of Cricket Control in India president N Srinivasan and his son-in-law and former team official Gurunath Meiyappan under the scanner. Team captain MS Dhoni has also been accused of "covering up" in his statements to the IPL probe panel.
“We were a bit anxious at the start of this season, and there’s no doubt that mistakes have been made. But, the repercussions of these mistakes and the way they were dealt with — all this is huge,” says Fleming, 41.
He adds, “We concentrate on playing and being professional. Viewers are still enjoying the games. You see 40,000-50,000 people watching you play in the stadium — I think that explains it.”
His team, which has been a two-time title winner, will face defending champions Mumbai Indians in a potentially explosive no-holds-barred contest at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday.
Ask him about the cricket craze in India and he says, “The timing couldn’t be more perfect for me. When IPL started, I was at the end of my career, so I got to play one season. But I was lucky that coaching and management came to me. It’s been an amazing experience.”
The former Kiwi skipper adds he sympathises with the hectic schedules of Indian cricketers.
“After playing international cricket for 20 years, you realise you’ve missed out a lot on family time and your kids growing up. It’s even more for Indian cricketers. Their calendar is crazily hectic and I can’t believe how they pull it off,” he says.