Inside the IPL with Eric Simons – 5th April 2019

Former international player and South African coach, Eric Simons, was head coach of the Delhi Daredevils before teaming up with former New Zealand coach Stephen Fleming at the Chennai Super Kings to form a partnership that has grown in reputation over the last few seasons.  They are defending champions.

“One of the reasons for Chennai Super Kings strong start to the defense of the IPL title – although it is still very early days – is the familiarity and continuity within the squad. The majority of the players have all played together before, especially the senior players, having all been retained after last seasons IPL tournament so they understand each other and their own roles within the team and the squad.

Men like Shane Watson, Dwayne Bravo, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja  and, of course, MS Dhoni know exactly what they need to do to prepare in the best way for them, and it’s important that they are given the freedom to do exactly that. If there is a “Chennai way”, it is to show trust in the individuals by encouraging them to do things ‘their way’ – certainly the senior players.

Another advantage of continuity and experience is the calmness it brings to the team. It is true, in general, that experienced players are much less inclined to panic in T20 cricket than was the case a few years ago, but there is very little that would cause concern in this group. Whatever is happening on the scoreboard or the big screen, you’ll find they have all seen the movie before.

Even when we were 90-4 after 14 overs in the game against the Royals last week there was no wild swinging of the bat to try and catch up. Just a calm confidence and an ability to think clearly which comes from having done it before, many times. Naturally it doesn’t work every time but, far more often than not, it does. The players, and the squad, know that. There is a difference between confidence and arrogance.

There is always talk about ‘pacing’ the campaign and trying to ‘peak’ at the right time. It is a long tournament and players energy levels are carefully managed. Resting and rotating players? Not for the sake of it. There’s no point resting a player if he is strong, in-form and raring to go. Again, a lot of it comes down to the individual, they know their bodies and minds better than anyone else.

In terms of strategy, 20 overs feels a lot longer than it used to. There is rarely an occasion these days when you ‘lose’ a couple of overs because you’re drifting. Now there is a direction and purpose to just about every delivery, batting or bowling. Players and coaches used to think T20 cricket could be over in a blur, they would finish a game and think “how did we lose that?” or even “how did we win that?” Not any more. Teams usually know exactly where a game was won and lost afterwards.

In the CSK dressing room after a game any review meetings can last no longer than a couple of minutes. We identify what went right, what went wrong and where we could have been better. That’s all you need to do. Identify, learn and move on, better prepared, for the next game.

If you have a question for Eric regarding the IPL, T20 cricket in general or the structure of the game in future, post it here. Eric has committed to doing six more Newsletters before the IPL is over and he’ll get through as many of your questions as possible.


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