Who BCCI should choose as India head coach after Rahul Dravid, it comes down to Justin Langer vs Stephen Fleming

This is one of the most prestigious job profiles in India. It's not an easy task being the head coach of the men's national cricket team – there is pressure, constant scrutiny and media scrutiny, potential controversies and the weight of expectations from a billion fanatics of this sport. But on the other hand, there are awards, recognition, honor and celebrity status that can intoxicate the best in the business. As the race heats up, we take a look at the credentials of the two Trans-Tasman rivals who are expected to be favorites for the position.

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

Justin Langer (left) or Stephen Fleming: Who will you choose to be India's next head coach? (AFP-PTI)

Former New Zealand skipper, Stephen Fleming was the head coach of Super Kings of Chennai since 2009. He is not only the longest-serving franchise coach in the history of the initial loading, but also the most successful. 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 their first IPL title by defeating their arch rivals Mumbai Indians in the final at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai in 2010. It was a double boon for the franchise as they beat the Warriors in the final of Champions. T20 League to Wanderers in September of the same 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 beat RCB in the final at Chepauk. CSK reached three IPL finals in the next four editions under Fleming's mentorship while winning their second Champions League title in 2014 by defeating KKR in the final at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.

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

Known for his exceptional man-management skills and high-quality training and leadership programme, Fleming took CSK – tagged and written off by many cricket pundits as the Daddy Army – to their fourth title IPL in 2021 – this time conquering Dubai where he defeated KKR in the final. And then the icing on the cake: CSK made history by winning their fifth IPL title (equaling MI's record) by beating favorites Gujarat Titans in the final in 2023.

CSK became the most successful franchise in the history of the IPL under the leadership of Fleming. Not only did he win five IPL titles, but he was also a losing finalist on five other occasions, making for a superb total of 10 finals in 14 appearances (Note: Fleming was part of the CSK team when they reached the final in 2008). This has been Fleming's greatest legacy for CSK: the team, as a brand, knows how to win big matches and improve its game when it matters most. CSK made 10 consecutive playoffs from 2008 to 2019, nine of which were under the watchful eyes and leadership of Fleming.

Fleming's coaching CV also boasts of a commendable track record as coach of other T20 franchises across the world. The Melbourne Stars reached their first Big Bash League final in 2015-16 with Fleming at the helm of affairs. They were also the losing finalists in the 2018-19 edition under his leadership.

With Fleming as coach, the Johannesburg Super Kings reached the semi-finals of the inaugural SA T20 season while also reaching the playoffs in 2024. He also made a big impression in America by guiding the Texas Super Kings (another sister company of CSK). to the playoffs in the MLC's inaugural season in 2023. Fleming is also the head coach of the Southern Brave in The Hundred – the team reached the Eliminator last season.

Justin Langer – 2 Ashes trophies and T20 World Cup 2021

Australia was in a great crisis when Justin Langer took over as head coach in the summer of 2018. Not only were they in decline in all formats, but they were also hit by the Sandpaper Gate controversy in Cape Town earlier in March that year . Langer faced a double challenge: not only did he have to rebuild Australian unity into the powerhouse it was in international cricket, but also regain the respect and honor of the Baggy Green.

Australia have participated in eight Test series during Langer's tenure, with their 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 testing history and was somehow 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 flaws too. With Langer at the helm, Australia lost two unprecedented consecutive Test series at home to India.

Australia also had a mixed bag in ODI cricket under Langer. They have won 18 matches and lost 19 matches in this format during this period. His tenure began with a 5-0 thrashing of England and was followed by two home defeats against South Africa and India. However, Langer avenged his initial defeats with a sweep against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in 2019 and series victories in India and South Africa (2020). He also took Australia to the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup where they were beaten by England.

However, their biggest achievement was winning the T20 World Cup in UAE in 2021. Despite not being favourites, Australia showed their big match temperament and beat New Zealand in the final to Dubai. In total, they have 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 it a global force again – that was his greatest legacy in charge of Australia.

His other big coaching success 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 finishing second in 2012-13. The Scorchers, with five BBL titles in total, are the most successful team in the competition's history and Langer has played a big part in their journey.

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