MS Dhoni to Influence Rahul Dravid's Replacement Decision?

we delve into the potential impact of MS Dhoni on selecting India's next head coach. With Rahul Dravid stepping down, all eyes are on the decision-makers, and Dhoni's involvement could be a game-changer. We'll explore the factors at play, Dhoni's credentials, and how his influence could shape the future of Indian cricket coaching.

MS Dhoni to Influence Rahul Dravid's Replacement Decision?
MS Dhoni to Influence Rahul Dravid's Replacement Decision?

MS Dhoni Might Be Key in Choosing Rahul Dravid's Replacement as India's Head Coach

The BCCI is still in talks with others but hasn't given up on Stephen Fleming. MS Dhoni might be their last hope.

MS Dhoni's input could be crucial in selecting Team India's next head coach. With the IPL over for Dhoni—Chennai Super Kings were eliminated after losing their last league match to Royal Challengers Bengaluru—the BCCI is thinking of asking the legendary cricketer to help finalize the decision between the board and CSK head coach Stephen Fleming.

MS Dhoni of Chennai Super Kings with head coach Stephen Fleming. (Sportzpics for BCCI)

Hindustan Times has learned that Fleming, a celebrated cricketer who captained New Zealand in 303 matches and is the longest-serving coach in the IPL, was the board's first choice to replace Rahul Dravid as India's head coach after the T20 World Cup. However, the former New Zealand opener has shown hesitation to commit until 2027.

The former New Zealand captain, who has led CSK since 2009, enjoys his brief stints with different teams owned by the franchise in various T20 leagues worldwide. Besides coaching CSK in the IPL, Fleming leads the Texas Super Kings in Major League Cricket (USA) and Joburg Super Kings in SA20 (South Africa). He also coaches the Southern Brave in The Hundred.

Despite his involvement with four different franchises in four leagues, Fleming has considerable time with his family due to the short duration of these tournaments. If he accepts the BCCI's offer, he will have to be on the road almost all year, except for the two months of the IPL.

Sources say Fleming expressed this concern in early discussions with the BCCI during the early stages of the IPL. The BCCI then started exploring other options, approaching Justin Langer, Gautam Gambhir, and Mahela Jayawardene.

While discussions with them are ongoing, the board is not ready to give up on Fleming. Dhoni is likely their final attempt.

"Fleming hasn't said no. He has concerns about the contract duration, which is not unusual. Even Rahul Dravid was hesitant at first. He was persuaded. It shouldn't be surprising if the same happens with Fleming. And who better than MS Dhoni to persuade him?" a BCCI source told Hindustan Times.

Dhoni and Fleming have been close since the IPL began. In the first season of the IPL in 2008, Dhoni was Fleming's captain at CSK. They have developed a strong bond since then and are known to be close off the field. They have never been separated in the IPL. They were part of the Rising Pune Supergiant team when CSK was suspended for two years.

The BCCI decision-makers believe that if anyone can convince Fleming to take up the challenge, it is Dhoni. "Approaching Dhoni during the IPL wasn't right, but now it might be worth a try," the source added.

Why Stephen Fleming?

It is almost certain that the Indian team will go through a transition after the T20 World Cup in the Americas this year. It's believed to be captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli's last chance at a World Cup. The 50-over World Cup is three years away. By then, Rohit will be 40 and Kohli nearly 39. Seeing them compete in the mega event in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia is unlikely. They are expected to focus more on Test cricket in the coming years.

The BCCI wants the head coach to lead this transition period, and Fleming is perfect for the job. Besides being a master tactician, Fleming is known for his excellent management skills. How he has bonded with Dhoni and handled overseas stars while being comfortable with budding cricketers doesn't need much explanation.

The Dhoni-Fleming combination has brought five titles to CSK—the most by any captain-coach pair in the IPL. The 51-year-old played a crucial role in the leadership transition from Dhoni to Ruturaj Gaikwad before this year's IPL.

With a similar transition likely in Indian cricket soon, Fleming's calm demeanor and outstanding managerial skills could be very useful.

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