Indian captain Rahul Dravid said in Mumbai on Tuesday that the tour of England would be his last one to the home of cricket.
Speaking shortly before his team’s departure to Ireland, Dravid said, “Personally for me, this is my last tour of England. I am not going to go back to England.”
The 34-year-old right-hander, who made his Test debut 11 years ago at Lord’s, said that his last tour to England would be made memorable by winning the series there. “There is no other way to make it memorable than winning it,” said Dravid, who has played 109 Tests till date.
To make it unforgettable for India and himself, Dravid said the key to success is “put runs on the board and take 20 wickets.” He added, “It is important for the squad to stay fit for the entire tour.”
Dravid said that left-arm medium-pacer Zaheer Khan will have a key role in “mentoring some of the youngsters in the side”.
Zaheer is the most experienced medium-pacer for Tests and Dravid had high hopes on him. “Zak has played county cricket in England and has been leading the attack. He will have a role to play in mentoring some of the youngsters,” said Dravid.
He also added that bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad’s experience of having played in England would be an advantage for the young bowlers.
“I am sure he (Venky) has been working hard with them, especially the seamers and the line and length that they should be employing in England. As the tour goes on, there will be lots of opportunities for the bowlers to interact with him and analyse their strengths and weaknesses,” said Dravid.
Dravid is aware that England’s pace attack has more experience than his. “But it does not necessarily mean an advantage for them. It is not all about experience alone. It is the performance on the day that counts,” said Dravid.
The Indian captain said that his team needed performances like the one on the last tour of England in 2002 when the 4-Test series was drawn 1-1. “2002 was a good tour. Ajit Agarkar’s 100 at Lord’s was special for him, Parthiv’s (Patel) debut as a 17-year-old was special, the win at Headingley to level the series, and to come out and bat after England made 500 at The Oval to save the series, that’s what you need.”
Dravid said that touring England is always special for any cricketer, more so for a youngster. “England and India have a huge history with regard to cricket. We have had some great tours in the past, there have been some great performances over the years.
Touring a country that has a great sense of history, to play at grounds where some of the greats have played, makes it even more special. The Test matches are very well attended, there is great appreciation for good cricket,” said Dravid.
Dravid had special words of praise for Dinesh Karthik, who accepted the challenge of opening the batting in Tests in Dhaka. “The onus is on everyone to cement their place in the side. Dinesh, given the opportunity, has done a really good job for us."
"We have not piegeonholed Dinesh into one category (play him only as a batsman). There was a potential to take on another role, and at the end of the day, it is entirely upto him. He has shown the desire and passion to do that role. If he keeps scoring consistently, he will cement his place. That holds for everyone else in the team also.”