Joburg Super Kings head coach Stephen Fleming

After a game, a coach typically attends a press conference to discuss how their team performed. They’re shielding their players from the press’ pointier questions: send in the clown who told them to do what they did, even if they did the opposite. Coaches remain in the locker room when their teams win, and the players show up to accept the victory.

Even though Stephen Fleming is not a clown, he spends a lot of time in SA20 press conferences because Joburg Super Kings have a rule that when they lose, they parade their head coach. Therefore, Fleming had to provide an explanation for JSK’s 81-run dismissal by Paarl Royals, who went on to win by seven wickets, on Friday at Boland Park: “It’s our fault since it appeared to be a solid track. Although there may have been a small bite, we could have done much better. We are to blame for the game’s failure. Today, we should have done a better job serving the crowd.

On Saturday, he was back at Newlands analyzing Mumbai Indians Cape Town, who had defeated his team by seven wickets after limiting them to 105/9 on a ground that had been used three times in as many days: “Yesterday, I was rather critical of our batting, but today’s wicket was difficult, and our confidence is a little low. Our team is currently playing their third match away from home. When circumstances aren’t quite favorable to you, you can find yourself swiftly exposed.

We wished we could have bowled first to regain some confidence. We haven’t spent a lot of time working as a team. We’ll work arduously on that. However, I won’t be as harsh with this. I’ll be harsher on the circumstances. It’s the third game in a row on that track, and you have a complete house. Let’s go. Give us a chance if you want to see a show.

Pretoria Capitals bowled the Joburgers out for 122 on Wednesday in Centurion, defeating them by six wickets. Fleming, however, wasn’t necessary as Joburg rallied from 27/4 to total 190/6 and defeat Durban’s Super Giants by 16 runs on Wednesday at Kingsmead. Or on Tuesday at the Wanderers, where the home team narrowly defeated Pretoria by six runs.

Consider that JSK played five matches in the first seven days of the SA20, with the first three of them being away matches, if you’re having trouble keeping up with all of that or if Fleming’s remarks about the Newlands pitch make him sound irritable. Fleming also oversees the coaching of the Chennai Super Kings, who played just twice in the opening week of the previous IPL.

Only 11 days into the competition, the SA20 will have completed half of its schedule of 33 games on Saturday. The three World Cup Super League games that South Africa and England will play in Bloemfontein and Kimberley next Friday, Sunday, and on February 1 have compacted the calendar. The SA20 will then be suspended between Tuesday and February 2, when it will reconvene for the remaining eight round-robin matches, the semifinals, and the championship game on February 11.

Only Joburg Super Kings and MI Cape Town had endured back-to-back defeats prior to Wednesday’s games. However, only DSG and Pretoria Capitals had consecutive victories.

It’s on fast-forward, but we all understand that a series must be played in the middle, which is crucial for CSA, Fleming added. Between games, you occasionally wait too long. There will be pockets where it will be difficult for you to bounce through. However, it is preferable to play as much cricket as you can in a short period of time. You run the danger of losing followers the longer it goes on. Hard and fast is a wise maxim.

He wasn’t happy with the fast-paced nature of the competition: “There isn’t much time. To almost completely forget about yesterday, one practically has to be a goldfish. At Boland Park and Newlands, we were exposed, which is probably about fairness. In Durban, we barely managed to win. The next step is to regain our composure, meet our standards, and instill in the players a sense of self-worth and a belief in our ability to compete on the international stage.

No time exists for sympathy. In cricket, there is typically a mourning period of two to three days before you may resume play. If it can be called a luxury, you don’t have time for it when you’re traveling and having fun nonstop. You must virtually expel it before moving forward. That has been the strategy—trying to occasionally bluff. We’re trying to educate the players about how unpredictable it is since the best players in the world are never out of form. It’s possible that a few good days in the middle will make a difference; our home dressing room may be the place when everything changes. However, there are moments when it seems far away.

Following a four-wicket loss to the same opponents at St George’s Park on Monday, Simon Katich agreed when his MI Cape Town team struggled to a two-wicket loss against Sunrisers Eastern Cape at Newlands on Wednesday: “Losing consecutively is difficult. We simply need to handle it better because, in these previous two games, we haven’t. In our third game [against JSK at Newlands on Saturday], we put ourselves in a wonderful position, but we fell short of earning a bonus point.

A little aftereffect has resulted from that. We must now get back up and move forward. The competition still has half to go. You can’t spend too much time thinking about it because we play again on Saturday [at Boland Park against Paarl Royals]. In this type of game, if you think about something too much, it will affect how you play the next game. We should thus put these two to rest, acknowledge that we were thoroughly outplayed, and work to improve the necessary aspects of our performance. Even though we’re just 20% off, the price is going up.

Speaking on Saturday, Fleming also had a sympathetic eye on the wider picture of the SA20 casting a better light on cricket in South Africa after years of bad days brought on by poor leadership: “To play well enough to draw a full Wanderers is our challenge. Now that’s unique. How we can achieve that is a major part of my tale when I speak to these players. The game needs more enthusiasm, but performances like today’s don’t help. I’m hoping the competition will achieve that.”

Fleming’s team maintained composure in front of a raucous Wanderers crowd of about 23,000 three days after he made that statement to secure their narrow Capitals victory. It is unknown how many more unfavorable outcomes Fleming and Katich will have to attempt to understand before the SA20 comes to a close. But the daily flurry of sixes and dismissals will eventually come to an end. If your team is losing, that is a minor mercy, but it is something.