Moments before commencement of training on Saturday, the Chennai Super Kings unit pulled off some smart football tricks. A circular formation of players was effortlessly making sure the ball was being juggled around.
The activity was halted when coach Stephen Fleming convened the team huddle. After what appeared to be a routine briefing, the cricketers quickly wrapped up the warm-up session.
Teaming up with bowling coach Andy Bichel and trainer Gregory King, Fleming split up his charges into two groups for a ‘hit the stumps’ contest.
Making their first appearances on the field, Ben Laughlin and the very tall Jason Holder — fast bowlers from Australia and the West Indies respectively — didn’t take part in the game. The duo, having arrived on Saturday, was content with a leisurely walk in the company of physiotherapist Tommy Simsek.
Meanwhile, Dirk Nannes produced a high-decibel holler after finding the stumps. Fleming, egging on the participants, was tracking the scores with King. The 39-year-old Kiwi, wearing a mild stubble, allowed himself large doses of smiles in the knowledge that he was making ‘work’ fun for the boys.
“Commit, Commit to the ball,” he said, unwilling to let the intensity dip. “Take a breather now but we aren’t done yet,” he added.
It was a snapshot of Fleming’s style of functioning — calm and unobtrusive yet firmly in charge of things. Rounds of high catches and relay-throwing were pursued with similar enthusiasm as well.
Then, S. Badrinath decided to practise the big hits, tucking into the net bowlers’ offerings. Hussey and Vijay Shankar, hit a few balls as well.
But the day was largely devoted to fielding, an area the team prides itself on. As the evening wore on, Fleming continued to cast his watchful gaze on a tired but happy bunch.