Cricket is often described as a tactical sport and while it is always the captain who burdens the responsibility of leading his team out in the middle, the behind-the-scenes work carried out by a coach is equally important. A coach often remains on the sidelines, carries out his job backstage and is responsible for fine-tuning his wards’ overall game. Here, we list down five of the best foreign coaches in IPL over the past decade.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) is no different and every franchise rightly has a battery of coaches and support staff in place to help and guide their players during the tournament. While there is no doubting the quality of local Indian coaches, the post of a franchise’s head coach being held by a foreigner is a common trend in the IPL.
Five best foreign coaches in IPL history:
1. Stephen Fleming (Chennai Super Kings)
The fact that Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are among the most successful and followed IPL teams is largely down to MS Dhoni’s inspirational leadership over the years. But a lot of it can also be attributed to former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming’s astute coaching and management behind the scenes. Having been associated with the franchise since the very beginning, Fleming has played a key role in the creation of brand CSK, also making them the only team to make it to the playoffs in every season that they have played. Definitely one of the best foreign coaches in IPL history.
Fleming’s mantra of retaining and working with the same core group of players year after year paid rich dividends for CSK as they won their first IPL trophy in 2010 and went on to successfully defend their title in the 2011 edition. Under Fleming, CSK have won a staggering 70 games of 117 played. Stephen Fleming is undoubtedly the best foreign coach to have worked in the IPL.
2. Trevor Bayliss (Kolkata Knight Riders)
Owner Shah Rukh Khan’s magic and charisma meant that Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) emerged as the most popular IPL franchise when the league first began in the year 2008. On the cricketing field, though, things were drastically different. After three years of underachievement, KKR went in for a complete overhaul and in came Gautam Gambhir as captain. Ahead of the 2012 season, the franchise pulled off another masterstroke by appointing the Australian tactician as their head coach.
The on field picture underwent a 360 degree change once Gambhir and Bayliss joined hands in the KKR dugout. In his first season as coach, Bayliss led the franchise to their maiden IPL title, where they beat favourites Chennai Super Kings in the final. After missing out on the playoffs in 2013, Bayliss masterminded yet another title-winning campaign in the 2014 edition of the IPL. Subsequently, the Australian moved on to take up the vacant England coaching role. Bayliss will always be regarded as one of the top foreign coaches in IPL history.
3. Tom Moody (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Tom Moody started his IPL coaching journey with the Kings XI Punjab and was a part of their dugout during the first three seasons of the league between 2008-10. The 52-year-old Australian has been at the helm of affairs for the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) ever since their inception in 2013 and it is at SRH where Moody has well and truly weaved his magic behind the scenes. Being the head coach, Moody has formed an excellent rapport with VVS Laxman and Muttiah Muralitharan – with the trio forming a great working combination off the field.
Moody’s tactical brilliance and cricketing knowledge have also combined beautifully with captain David Warner’s flair and on-field leadership. The Aussie duo also led the Sunrisers Hyderabad to their first ever IPL win in the 2016 season, where they beat heavyweights Royal Challengers Bangalore in the final. Continuing the same formula in 2017, the former all-rounder took his team to the playoffs yet again before losing to KKR in the eliminator. Tom Moody is number three in our list of best foreign coaches in IPL history.
4. Darren Lehmann (Deccan Chargers)
After finishing at bottom of the table in the inaugural edition of the IPL in 2008, the Deccan Chargers decided to go in for a complete revamp – right from captain VVS Laxman to the colour of their jersey, everything was changed. While elevating Adam Gilchrist to the captaincy position was a smart move, the franchise’s most important decision was to appoint Darren Lehmann as their new head coach. The restructuring exercise paid instant dividends for the Hyderabad-based franchise as they went onto lift the IPL title in 2009.
Coach Lehmann always had excellent plans in place, which were executed to near perfection on the pitch by captain Gilchrist. The Chargers defended a below-par total of 143 in the big final against a star-studded Royal Challengers Bangalore side to go from the bottom team in the previous season to being crowned as champions in the next. Much of that stunning turnaround could be attributed to Lehmann’s work behind the scenes. The former Australian batsman subsequently went on to coach Kings XI Punjab for a brief period before taking up his country’s coaching reigns in June 2013. He would indeed go down as one of the best foreign coaches in IPL history.
5. Ricky Ponting (Mumbai Indians)
Yet another Australian to cap off this list. The great Ricky Ponting was a devastating batsman during his prime and is also acknowledged as one of the finest ever captains that world cricket has ever seen. Post retirement, Ponting has proved his mettle as a fine coach, more so in the shortest format in the game. Having relinquished the Mumbai Indians captaincy midway through the 2013 IPL, Ponting moved into a mentoring role with the franchise and was integral to their first ever IPL title win that year.
Come 2015 and the Mukesh Ambani-owned franchise turned to the legendary Australian to take up their full time coaching reigns and the move worked out brilliantly for both parties. Ponting formed an excellent working partnership with his support staff and captain Rohit Sharma as Mumbai Indians went on to lift the second of their three IPL crowns. The former Australian captain who can be regarded as one of the best foreign coaches in IPL, now finds himself a part of his country’s T20 coaching setup and will also be seen as Delhi Daredevils’ head coach in IPL 2018.