There are two important members of any team – one the captain, who runs the team and makes the decisions on the field, and the other the coach who remains backstage and works with the players. Over the years, we have seen a lot of successful captain-coach combinations. Gary Kirsten and MS Dhoni, Ricky Ponting and John Buchanan, Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower are few of the best examples in the international circuit.
Even in the IPL, we have seen a lot of players bonding well with some coaches. Here we look at the five best captain-coach combinations in the history of the IPL.
#5 David Warner and Tom Moody – Sunrisers Hyderabad
Right from the time Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) replaced Deccan Chargers in 2013, Tom Moody has been at the helm for the Hyderabad franchise. However, it was only in 2015 that David Warner was made captain of the franchise.
Though 2015 was not a great season for SRH (they finished 6th), they built a good core during that period. Along with VVS Laxman and Muttiah Muralitharan, Tom Moody formed a very good combination off the field.
Warner and Moody quickly developed an excellent rapport and found a very good success mantra. They built a strong bowling unit and believed that it is ultimately the bowlers who are going to win them games. And that worked beautifully for them.
In 2016, their bowlers repaid the faith of the team management and eventually led them to the title. In 2017, they continued the same formula and it continued to work for them as it was mostly the bowlers who kept winning them games. They did make it to the playoffs, but lost to Kolkata Knight Riders in the eliminator.
Also, captaincy brought the best out of David Warner as he won the Orange Cap twice in three years. The combination is set to continue in 2018 as Warner has been retained by Sunrisers Hyderabad. They have a win percentage of almost 57%, making them one of the best captain-coach duos in the IPL.
#4 Adam Gilchrist and Darren Lehmann – Deccan Chargers
After a very poor IPL in 2008 (where they finished last), the Deccan Chargers team management changed the entire support staff and also replaced their skipper (VVS Laxman) for the 2nd edition of the IPL.
Adam Gilchrist was entrusted with the captaincy while Darren Lehmann (who had played the first season as a player for Delhi Daredevils) was named head coach. The changes worked beautifully for the Hyderabad-based franchise as they went onto lift the IPL title that year (2009).
In that season, Deccan Chargers started off very well by winning their first four games. However, they couldn’t maintain the winning run as they lost a few close games before just about managing to sneak into the top 4. However, the way the side played in the semi-final and final was brilliant.
Gilchrist and Lehmann had excellent game plans in place, which were executed very well. DC defended 143 in the final to go from 8th place in the previous season to Champions in the next.
The success Gilchrist and Lehmann found meant that they continued their respective roles in 2010 and took the team to the semi-finals. In the 3rd edition of the IPL (2010), the Hyderabad-based franchise finished 2nd after the league stage but lost to a rampaging Chennai Super Kings in the semi-final.
In 2011, though Lehmann continued as the coach, Deccan Chargers let go of Adam Gilchrist. However, even though it was only for two years, the way Adam Gilchrist and Darren Lehmann worked together was brilliant. In the 29 games that they were together for Deccan Chargers, the franchise won 17 of them.
#3 Gautam Gambhir and Trevor Bayliss – Kolkata Knight Riders
After the first three seasons, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) were one of the biggest underachievers. They hadn’t made it to the semi-finals in the first three seasons, finishing 6th twice (in 2008 and 2010) and 8th (in 2009), In 2011, they hit the reset button as the Kolkata-based franchise started afresh.
Gautam Gambhir was bought for a record price of $2.4 million and was entrusted as the captain. In that season, KKR finally reached the top 4 but lost in the eliminator. Just before the 2012 auctions, Trevor Bayliss was appointed the head coach.
And things changed dramatically once Gambhir and Bayliss joined hands. In their first season (in 2012), they took KKR to the title as they beat favourites Chennai Super Kings in the finals. In 2013, they once again failed to reach the top 4.
But in 2014, they came back strongly to lift their second title. The way KKR came back in that season was remarkable. At one stage, it never looked like they were going to make the top 4 (as they had just two wins from 7 games), but a string of good performances pushed them up to second in the points table and they won 9 consecutive games to become the third team to win two IPL titles.
In 2015, KKR narrowly missed out on the playoff spot as rain played spoilsport in one of the games to ruin their chances. That was the last year Bayliss was a part of the KKR camp as he became the head coach of England.
However, since 2011, they’ve been one of most consistent teams and the Gambhir-Bayliss combo worked beautifully for them.
#2 Rohit Sharma and Ricky Ponting – Mumbai Indians
Mumbai Indians is the most successful team in the history of the IPL. They have won three IPL titles (in 2013, 2015 and 2017). And they have always had some big names in the coaching staff right from the start.
In 2013, Ricky Ponting was bought by Mumbai Indians and was appointed as captain. However, he dropped himself and requilished captaincy after a string of low scores. Though he was not the captain, he combined well with Rohit Sharma (who was appointed as captain) very well and led Mumbai to their first ever IPL triumph.
In 2015, Ponting was appointed the coach and the Rohit-Ponting combo once again worked as MI went onto to win their second IPL trophy. In that year, Mumbai lost 5 out of their first 6 games, but they came back strongly in the latter stages of the tournament to finish second in the points table and eventually lift their second IPL title. In 2016, they narrowly missed out on the playoffs as they finished fifth in the points table.
But the way Rohit Sharma and Ricky Ponting worked together was brilliant and it made MI one of the best IPL teams.
#1 MS Dhoni and Stephen Fleming – Chennai Super Kings
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are undoubtedly one of the most followed IPL teams. And they are the only team to make it to the playoffs (top 4) in every season that they have played.
Stephen Fleming, after playing the first season as a player, became the coach of the Chennai franchise in 2009 and his rapport with MS Dhoni is one of the best in the history of the IPL. Right from the first season they worked together (2009), they built a very strong core and more often than not tried to retain the core every season.
In 2010, they lifted their first IPL trophy. In 2011, they became the first team to win the IPL twice and they are the only team who has successfully defended their IPL title. CSK continued to do superbly as they reached the finals in 2012, 2013 and 2015. Under Fleming, CSK have won a staggering 70 games of 117 played.
Hence, there is no doubt that Dhoni and Fleming make one of the best captain-coach combination.