Fleming on CSK captaincy change: ‘We weren’t prepared for Dhoni to step aside in 2022, but the time is now’

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It was MS Dhoni’s decision to hand over the captaincy of the Chennai Super Kings to Ruturaj Gaikwad, ahead of IPL 2024, his head coach Stephen Fleming revealed on the eve of the first match of the tournament in Chennai.

“It was MS [Dhoni’s decision] with a lot of consideration and a vision for the future after a good season last year,” Fleming said in his press conference on Thursday. “The timing was good. Behind the scenes, Ruturaj and others have been, shall we say, in a process of preparing for the captaincy, waiting for days like this and for opportunities to arise, but MS is the best judge and felt the time was right.”

For the second time in the last three seasons, CSK has sprung a surprise by appointing a new captain on the eve of the first match of the season. In 2022, Ravindra Jadeja had replaced Dhoni as captain, but the transition was not particularly easy, as Jadeja resigned mid-season after CSK lost six of their first eight games during that season.

Dhoni regained the lead and then led CSK to a fifth title in IPL 2023 to draw level with Mumbai Indians.

Fleming said the captaincy change in 2022 was something of a wake-up call and that the franchise is now better prepared to work with a new captain and build for the future.

“Well, the biggest thing a couple of years ago was that we probably weren’t prepared for MS to be sidelined,” Fleming said. “And what that probably did was shake us as a leadership group or coaches into considering the possibility of him leaving. And up until that point, it was almost unthinkable, but it planted the seed. So we’ve worked pretty hard. “On making sure that any mistakes that have been made during that time will not be made again. And that leadership is not a secret.”

Fleming also suggested that there could be some on-field mentoring from Dhoni, and other senior players, to help Gaikwad take on the new role. Gaikwad becomes the third player besides Dhoni to lead CSK in the IPL. The 27-year-old led Maharashtra in 13 T20s and India in three T20Is during the Hangzhou Asian Games, where they won the gold medal.

“Yes, I hope so. It’s about getting that balance right without interfering, but also providing that leadership that can’t be ignored,” Fleming said. “It’s been too long and his presence is too big for you to not just turn him off, but use him. And finding that balance and being able to use Jadejas and Dhonis and help Ruturaj as he develops is very important. In the middle , we will do some trial and error to a certain extent.

“Ruturaj has a lot of confidence in himself. Again, he is not the captain or the most demonstrative person, but he has a very good relationship with his teammates and is very respected. So I think what the older players understand me is the “I wish to help.”

Gaikwad hopes to leverage the experience of Dhoni and Co.”[It] it feels good. It is a privilege, but more than that, it is a big responsibility,” Gaikwad told CSK’s social media channels. “I am very excited about the kind of group we have. Everyone has enough experience. So I don’t have much to do. I have mahi [Dhoni] bhai in the team, Jaddu [Jadeja] bhai and ajju [Rahane] bhai, who have been great captains in guiding me.”

Fleming Revealed That Ruturaj Gaikwad Has Started Preparing As Csk Captain Behind The Scenes.

Fleming revealed that Ruturaj Gaikwad has started preparing as CSK captain behind the scenes.BCCI

Gaikwad is one of CSK’s biggest success stories in the IPL. In the 2019 auction, CSK bought him for his base price of INR 20 lakh and although he had a rough start in the middle order in the IPL 2020 in the UAE, having just recovered from Covid-19 at the time, he soldiered on. . Become a versatile opener. The CSK team management is especially pleased with Gaikwad’s development.

“So, we’ve been working very hard to make sure the plans are in place, [so] that all players are more self-sufficient,” Fleming said. “And we are. It’s not [the case that] MS just has a wonderful sense of the game, but one of the things we are proud of is the development of young players.

“Last year [Tushar] Deshpande came out ahead and then owned that space and has done well in domestic cricket. This shows that giving ownership and trust to players really works. It’s not just the captain’s job to pull the strings.

“So, we are analyzing that. And as I say, now we are more prepared because they pushed us to look at life after [Dhoni]. And in some ways, we’ve been a little slow to do that as a management group.”

Deivarayan Muthu is Deputy Editor of ESPNcricinfo