Bengal Tigers coach Stephen Fleming has high hopes from T10

Ajit Vijaykumar 14:04 19/11/2018
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T10 side Bengal Tigers coach Stephen Fleming with team mentor Anis Sajan and players Mujeeb ur Rahman and Morne Morkel.

Celebrated coach Stephen Fleming foresees a bright future for T10 cricket and is excited about the challenges it will pose to him.

Fleming was named coach of T10 outfit Bengal Tigers for the second edition of the tournament which will run from November 21 to December 2 in Sharjah.

The tournament shrugged off uncertainty following apprehensions from the Pakistan Cricket Board and with the ICC now giving the league the go-ahead, it’s all systems go and Fleming believes the format can take the sport to uncharted territories – namely the Olympics.

“Players said it was a great concept. They weren’t sure where it was going to go. I have heard a lot of conversation since about Olympics, potentially,” Fleming said during a media interaction in Dubai on Monday.

“I don’t know (about the future). And that is the exciting aspect. There has been talk about it being an Olympic format, with it around 90 minutes from a TV point of view.

“From our point of view, it’s a tournament that has world-class players and my understanding is that the games were very well attended last year. It’s a concept that is exciting for fans. And from a coaching point of view, it’s different, refreshing.”

Fleming is one of the most decorated cricket leaders in the world, having proven his mettle as coach with IPL side Chennai Super Kings, helping the men in yellow win the title three times. And he believes there is as much strategy involved in a 10-over game as there is in a T20.

“People think shortest version is less thinking, but actually it’s more. T20 and T10 take as much strategy, players have to make decisions each ball. Everything gets condensed, can be stressful and tests the skillsets of players.

“Dot balls are like gold. But there is a balance. As we saw the recent game between Australia and South Africa (which was reduced to 10 overs a side), if you get too hard you can still get into trouble [Australia managed 87-7 chasing 109]. The key is that if you have wicket-taking bowlers – we have Morne Morkel, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Sunil Narine – you still try to get wickets. It’s an opportunity to put pressure on batters. It’s a whole new set of measurements or matrix that we can use to judge how bowlers bowl,” the former New Zealand captain added.

One aspect that will continue to have a major impact, whatever the format, is the conditions. The pitch in Sharjah has been known to become difficult to bat on and Fleming said assessing conditions on the day correctly will be imperative.

“We have information on all players we are playing. But the most important thing is to assess conditions correctly. Last year was a bit slow. This year, will there be dew? We need to see.”

ZAHEER KHAN IN THE MIX

Veteran India fast bowler Zaheer Khan will be part of the Tigers side. Zaheer is among eight Indian names in the tournament and Fleming is happy to have a proven performer like the left-arm quick in his side.

“Watching Zaheer last night, he was swinging the ball and still has the variations. It’s a good pick. He finished playing just 12-18 months ago and he looks fit. We have the three best spinners in the short form – Mujeeb, Narine and Mohammad Nabi. And then we have got the specialists like Sam Billings and Jason Roy.”

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