Coach Rahul Dravid Is 43 Today and He Has His Hands Full

“You’ve to treat each player as an individual as they are at unique stages in their career,” said Dravid on his wards

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Sports
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On his 43rd birthday, here’s a peek at Rahul Dravid’s plans for his wards, in his own words. (Photo: IANS)

In early September last year, I sat down with Rahul Dravid for a detailed interview after his first few weeks as India ‘A’ coach. It had all gone quite well and under his watch some players had made a case for national call-ups. So, as our conversation wound down, I slipped in the question I hoped would supply my headline.

“So has this stint whetted your appetite for maybe a larger role in the near future, perhaps India coach?”

Over his decorated batting career, Dravid had grown accustomed to tackling the canniest tricks from all types of bowlers. He wasn’t about to be drawn into a stroke he wasn’t prepared to play just yet, and certainly not from a journalist chasing a banner headline.

“I think Ravi Shastri and the team did a terrific job to bounce back in the series in Sri Lanka,” he dead batted expertly. They don’t need anyone, and it has not whetted my appetite to do anything different.”

The author, a Senior Editor with ESPNCricinfo sat down with Rahul Dravid last year for an interview about his targets as India’s under-19 coach. (Photo: ESPNCricinfo)
The author, a Senior Editor with ESPNCricinfo sat down with Rahul Dravid last year for an interview about his targets as India’s under-19 coach. (Photo: ESPNCricinfo)

Rahul Dravid is 43 today.

Entrenched in his role as coach of India’s ‘A’ and Under-19 teams. In Bangladesh, starting later this month, he will guide India’s next generation of players at the Under-19 World Cup. In Dravid’s mind, the task at hand, one he voluntarily signed up for, is to mentor and prepare India’s fringe and emerging cricketers for the arduous demands of international cricket. No more. No less.

Dravid likes to tackle projects for what they are. Not what they might lead to. He is wired with an innate practicality that allows him to approach tasks with clarity of mind and purpose. In each managerial assignment he has undertaken since retiring from the game, this pragmatism in Dravid’s worldview has been apparent.

Rahul Dravid served Rajasthan Royals as their mentor. (Photo: IANS)
Rahul Dravid served Rajasthan Royals as their mentor. (Photo: IANS)

As mentor at Rajasthan Royals, he sought to empower young players and create an environment where they would believe in themselves as essential nuts and bolts of the squad, not part contributors. In a short stint as consultant with the Indian team ahead of the tour of England in 2014, he talked tactics & approach in dynamic match scenarios and encouraged the gamble with the five-bowler theory. His method as coach of teams feeding into the national set-up is just as well considered, one that he succinctly explained in our interview.

These series are not only about results. I don’t think you can say that we want to win every single ‘A’ series. It is more about giving the players who have come to this level an opportunity to perform, and that is what we tried to do. I tried to make sure that everyone got an opportunity to play. Some got just one game, but that is the bigger idea.

Rahul Dravid, India A and under-19 coach
Rahul Dravid with his under-19 team during a practise session last year. (Photo: IANS)
Rahul Dravid with his under-19 team during a practise session last year. (Photo: IANS)

In essence, Dravid recognises his role is to chisel and shape the players who arrive at his doorstep on the rapidly moving conveyor belt of Indian cricket. He understands attempting fundamental alterations in their essential make-up isn’t his mandate, as they will head inevitably to longer stints elsewhere- either with their first class teams or the Indian squad.

You have to treat each player as an individual as they are at unique stages in their career. You have to look at what they are looking for in those eight to ten days that they are with us. Each player is looking for something different. It is your job as the coach and support staff to provide that environment which helps him.

Rahul Dravid, India A and under-19 coach
Dravid and his former teammates have all found ways to give back to cricket. (Photo: PTI)
Dravid and his former teammates have all found ways to give back to cricket. (Photo: PTI)

Think back to last year and the setting up of a high-profile cricket advisory committee made up of Dravid’s fellow legends- Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly & VVS Laxman. Six months later, it appears to be a moribund panel having accomplished little of note. Contrast that with Dravid who opted for a brick and mortar role, and has made a more tangible contribution.

Not that he would want anyone to make much fuss.

Happy 43rd Coach Dravid!

Gaurav Kalra is a senior sports journalist who is currently playing his trade as a Senior Editor at ESPNCricinfo.

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