By Radhika Bhirani
Queenstown (New Zealand), Nov 2:
Squeezing in a Twenty20 game or two has become the norm in a bilateral series but the shortest format of the game should only be played internationally in a World Cup like event held after every four years, feels former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming who considers India his “second home”.
Fleming, who has himself played in only five Twenty20 Internationals, believes that while T20 is “healthy” for the long-term future of cricket, “it has to be managed well”.
Asked if this is healthy for the future of the game, he told IANS: “It is healthy, but has to be managed well. I don’t believe T20 should be played at international level apart from a World Cup every four years.”
“This then allows franchises and clubs to develop competitions around the world. It also frees up some time from touring for international teams.”
Fleming himself has been the head coach of the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK), which is suspended for two years on account of its top official’s involvement in betting on IPL matches in 2013.
The former left-handed batsman is currently keeping himself busy with “coaching roles with CSK and the Melbourne Stars (in the Big Bash League), as well as promoting New Zealand to India with roles in education, tourism and trade”.
What about coaching national teams in the future?
“At the moment I am happy just coaching T20 teams as it allows me to have a good balance between home and professional life. I also have three young children that occupy a large amount of time,” said the 42-year-old.
IANS caught up with the former Black Caps skipper after a thrilling jet-boat ride through the Shotover River Canyons. Also on board were former cricketers Simon Doull and Scott Styris along with Bollywood actor Sidharth Malhotra, who has been appointed the tourism ambassador for New Zealand in India.
Fleming, who played 111 Test matches and 280 One-Day Internationals (ODI), also had the trio’s company for a one-of-a-kind cricket experience on a glacier here. It’s an adventure he’ll remember for a long time.
The Christchurch-born also believes that it’s a “fantastic” decision of roping in a Bollywood star as a tourism ambassador for his country in India — a nation that’s close to his heart.
“I’ve been visiting India for more than 25 years and during that time, I have had some amazing experiences and met some incredible people. I now proudly call India my second home, spending around three to four months there every year, and enjoy promoting the joys of India to my friends and family back in New Zealand.
“I am also very proud to help promote New Zealand to India. Both countries have a lot of similarities as well as some diverse differences, but I find the people of both countries very warm and friendly. I’m very lucky to have had the chance to get to know India so well,” concluded Fleming, whose international career spanned from 1994 to 2008.
(The writer’s trip was at the invitation of Tourism New Zealand. Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at [email protected])