Who BCCI should choose as India's head coach after Rahul Dravid it boils down to Justin Langer vs Stephen Fleming | Crickit
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Who BCCI should choose as India's head coach after Rahul Dravid it boils down to Justin Langer vs Stephen Fleming

May 15, 2024 03:32 PM IST

Justin Langer and Stephen Fleming are two overseas names with decent coaching pedigree, but who appeals more to the BCCI?

It is one of the most prestigious job profiles in India. It is no easy task to be the head coach of the men’s national cricket team – there is pressure, constant scrutiny and media glare, potential controversies and the weight of expectations of a billion-plus fanatics of the sport. But on the flip side there are rewards, recognition, honour and a celebrity status which can intoxicate the best in the business. As the race intensifies, we look at the credentials of the two Trans-Tasman rivals tipped to be the frontrunners for the post.

Justin Langer (L) or Stephen Fleming: Who is your pick to be India's next head coach?(AFP-PTI)
Justin Langer (L) or Stephen Fleming: Who is your pick to be India's next head coach?(AFP-PTI)

Stephen Fleming – 5 IPL titles and 2 Champions League T20 trophies

Former New Zealand skipper, Stephen Fleming has been the head coach of Chennai Super Kings since 2009. He is not only the longest-serving coach of a franchise in the history of the IPL, but also the most successful one. Fleming took CSK to the semi-finals in his first year at the helm in 2009. It was under his tenure that the MS Dhoni-led franchise won its first IPL title beating arch-rivals Mumbai Indians in the final at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai in 2010. It was a double bonanza for the franchise as they went on to beat the Warriors in the final of the Champions League T20 at the Wanderers in September that year.

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CSK won a hat-trick of titles under Fleming as they were crowned Champions of the 2011 IPL where they thrashed RCB in the final at Chepauk. CSK made it to three IPL finals in the next four editions under the mentorship of Fleming while also winning their second Champions League Title in 2014 where they beat KKR in the final at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.

With CSK suspended for two years in 2016 and 2017, Fleming took charge of the Rising Pune Supergiant and guided them to the final in 2017. However, his biggest success was when CSK came back in 2018 and against all odds and predictions, lifted the trophy for a third time defeating the Sunrisers in the final.

Known for his exceptional man-management skills and a high-quality training and leadership programme, Fleming took CSK – labelled and written off by many cricket pundits as the Daddy Army – to their fourth IPL title in 2021 – this time conquering Dubai where they overcame KKR in the final. And then the icing on the cake – CSK created history winning their fifth IPL title (equalling the record of MI) beating favourites Gujarat Titans in the final in 2023.

CSK rose to become the most successful franchise in the history of the IPL under the leadership of Fleming. Not only did it win five IPL titles but also were the losing finalists on five other occasions – i.e. a stunning 10 finals in 14 appearances (Note: Fleming was part of the CSK squad when they made it to the final in 2008) This has been Fleming’s greatest legacy for CSK – the team as a brand know how to win the big matches and raise their game when it matters most. CSK made it to 10 consecutive playoffs from 2008 to 2019 – nine of these under the watchful eyes and guidance of Fleming.

Fleming’s coaching CV also boasts of a commendable record as coach of other T20 franchises across the world. Melbourne Stars made it to their first final in the Big Bash League in 2015-16 with Fleming at the helm of affairs. They were also the losing finalists in the 2018-19 edition under him.

With Fleming as coach, the Johannesburg Super Kings made it to the semi-final in the inaugural season of the SA T20 while also reaching the playoffs in 2024. He also made an impression in America guiding Texas Super Kings (another sister concern of CSK) to the playoffs in the inaugural season of the MLC in 2023. Fleming is also the head coach of the Southern Brave at The Hundred – the team made it to the Eliminator last season.

Justin Langer – 2 Ashes trophies and 2021 T20 World Cup

Australia were in a big crisis when Justin Langer took over as head coach in the Summer of 2018. Not only were they on the decline across formats but were hit by the Sandpaper Gate controversy in Cape Town earlier in March that year. Langer was faced by a double challenge – not only did he have to rebuild the Australian unit to the powerhouse they were in international cricket but also earn back the respect and honour of the Baggy Green.

Australia were involved in eight Test series during Langer’s tenure with his biggest success being the 4-0 rout of England at home in 2021-22 – which took English cricket to its lowest point in its recent Test history and in a way was responsible for ‘Bazball’! The other notable achievement was the 2-2 draw, helping Australia retain the Urn in one of the greatest Ashes series ever played – in England in 2019. However, there were some blemishes too. With Langer at the helm, Australia lost an unprecedented two consecutive Test series at home against India.

Australia also had a mixed bag in ODI cricket under Langer. They won 18 and lost 19 matches in the format in this time-frame. His tenure started with a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of England and was followed by two home defeats against South Africa and India. However, Langer avenged the initial losses with a sweep against Pakistan in the UAE in 2019 and series wins in India and South Africa (2020). He also took Australia to the semi-final of the 2019 World Cup where they were beaten by England.

However, his greatest achievement was the T20 World Cup win in the UAE in 2021. Despite not being the favourites, Australia showcased their big-match temperament and defeated New Zealand in the final in Dubai. Overall, they won 20 and lost 23 T20Is under Langer with six series wins and eight losses during this period.

Langer transformed an Australian team in the doldrums and made them into a world-beating force again – that was his biggest legacy at the helm for Australia.

His other great success as coach was with the Perth Scorchers. The franchise won three titles in four seasons during his tenure in 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2016-17 while also finishing runner-up in 2012-13. The Scorchers, with five BBL titles overall, are the most successful team in the competition’s history and Langer has played a big part in their journey.

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