He was the best student of the game. He never let himself above the above the sport through his sixteen-year-old career. At every step he takes even now, he realises that cricket is the reason for what he is today. Hence, he is leaving no stone unturned to return the favour back to cricket by nurturing the young talent in India. Yes, he is none other than Rahul Dravid. India being amongst the top three massive cricketing nations, they need the best of talents on the bench. In the era of the reverse sweeps, upper cuts, helicopter shots and switch hit, it was necessary to bring in a teacher who can lay the basic foundation in the grass root level from where the young promising Indian cricketers can go on to compete on the higher level.
When Dravid’s former teammates and close acquaintances Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly took up the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)’s offer of constituting the advisory committee in 2015, Dravid rejected the proposal and instead chose to become the coach of India A and India Under-19 team.
A wolf who still lives for the pack…
Although Dravid had never been a natural athlete, with sheer hard work and persistence, he managed to reach the top-most level in cricket. He was confined to being just a Test cricketer but the elegant batsman when in the mood, was capable of smashing the ball across the ground. Not that he was born with the aggressive style; with immense practice he tried to get into the groove of the big hitting. Gone are his playing days but the attitude of taking up challenges still remains with Dravid.
In his entire career, he had played the most under two captains – Ganguly and himself. If Ganguly needed to experiment in the opening pair, the middle order or maybe a change in the keeper, Dravid was always his go-to man. Probably, Dravid has been the only cricketer so far who have agreed to anything, if that benefitted the team. As Harsha Bhogle had said, he is the wolf who lived for the pack.
Maybe, he is not the part of the pack anymore but the Indian team will always stay on as his priority until he is associated with the game.
Being an introvert, entering the shoes of a coach was an enormous task. Of course, he is one of the best cricketers produced in India and there has never been a doubt regarding his cricket knowledge but there were other areas to be polished for his and the boys’ good. Since he would be coaching both India A and India Under-19, he had to sharpen his managing skills because it was highly likely that the assignments of both the teams could clash at some point. In order to avoid the boys to face any trouble, he would have to be prepared with backup plans.
BCCI’s decision to hand the youngsters to Dravid, back into 2015, has turned out to be a brilliant move. In the last two years, India A have played more cricket than ever. They beat South Africa and Bangladesh and lost to Australia at home in 2015. They toured Australia for Quadrangular A-Team One-Day Series in 2016 that also included South Africa and National Performance Squad, where they lost to the hosts in the final. On the other hand, the Indian Under-19 Team reached the final of the World Cup 2016 but unfortunately lost the close final to the West Indies.
Maybe the results have not always turned out to be in the favour of Dravid’s young India, but under his guidance and training, the bench in Indian cricket is getting stronger. In the 2016-17 home season of Team India, they lost a couple of players due to injuries. That made way for youngsters from Dravid’s camp, Jayant Yadav and Karun Nair, into the main team. Both the players proved impressive with their respective roles and that indicated how efficiently Dravid has been doing his job with India A and Under-19.
A special role for a special cricketer!
The selection of the Indian coach was done by the BCCI’s advisory committee. According to the reports, Ganguly was not very keen on Ravi Shastri as India’s head coach. Nevertheless, he had bow down to Tendulkar and Laxman who favoured Shastri, keeping Indian Captain Virat Kohli’s strong recommendation in mind. Ganguly, who does not lose easily, tagged Shastri with his own choices, Zaheer Khan as India’s bowling coach and Dravid as India’s batting consultant for overseas tours.
#RahulDravid has been appointed overseas batting consultant.
This has to be one of the most specialised roles in the history of the sport.
— Abhishek Mukherjee (@ovshake42) July 11, 2017
With the new role, comes the real challenge for the “Wall.” Talking about the role, “this has to be one of the most specialised roles in the history of the sport.” No other former Indian batsman would be a better choice than Dravid for this position, at present. Apart from South Africa, where he averaged less than 30, Dravid had left his mark everywhere –name any country he had played Tests in Australia, England, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Pakistan. He did decently well even in the red ball game, across the globe.
However, the challenge does not lie in the coaching he has to provide to Virat Kohli and Co. because without any doubt he will excel in it. But having already the responsibility of India A and India Under-19, it might be a hassle for Dravid to divide his time equally between the three teams. He will also have to ensure that neither of the team suffers between all this.
Given a chance, Dravid will surely punch Ganguly’s face someday. (pun intended). Ganguly made him keep wickets and open the batting at times while playing and now has loaded Dravid with three crucial assignments of India A, India Under-19 and the Indian national senior team. But knowing Dravid, he will be “ready even to walk on broken glass, if Indian cricket is going to benefit.”