On Saturday, on the eve of the third India-South Africa game at Newlands here, Rahul Dravid launched a staunch defence of his team against the backdrop of the scathing criticism at home and said that no one from the Indian Board (BCCI) had been in touch with him officially about the issue. “Officially, I have had no word with anyone,” said Dravid, adding that the team was not worried by the adverse reactions in India after their Durban loss.
“India is a country of extreme emotions and it was probably expected,” said Dravid. “I’ve not really read or heard any of this stuff and I don’t think any of the guys here have either… We know we need to play better and are focussed on that. We’re not aware or worried about what’s happening back home.”
Asked about a senior BCCI member saying that the players did not deserve to be paid for the Durban game, Dravid retorted that he could not worry about something beyond his control.
“If somebody there is going to make a comment like that, then it's a bit hard for me to be worried. If it was in my hands or if I were asked something, it would be in my control… People are entitled to what they feel, just as I am as entitled not to react.”
He said he did not feel that a team needed to be criticised to be motivated, adding that if teams played well only when they were criticised, there was something wrong with the players. “You shouldn’t need anything other than the fact that you’re playing for your country to motivate you. My boys, though they might not have got the results, have really worked hard. I’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of energy, a lot of desire to make things better. They’re doing their best and really working hard.
“Even before the last World Cup, no one gave us a chance. We went through a similar sort of run, we lost to the West Indies at home, to New Zealand away… while it would be nice to go into the Cup in top form and the best possible shape, it doesn’t necessarily happen. We’re endeavouring to get there with the best combination.”
He dismissed talk of a showdown between himself and Chappell, saying things had reached a stage where he can only laugh it all off. “What can I do? What can I say? I just have to laugh. There is absolutely no issue between us and I feel funny to have to deny this, but like I said, it has reached a point nowadays when anyone says anything. You don’t have to prove it, you can say what you want and it's allowed and I should also be allowed not to react…”
He said while the team realised that people would be upset, extreme reactions to losses is something they had got used to while playing for India. He said he himself is not feeling any pressure. “I'm still enjoying the game, enjoying my captaincy, which is what is important to me… Trying to get joy out of the simple things, out of the little things that happen each and every day. Trying to focus on things I can control and stuff I can do, practising hard, lifting the morale of the guys and trying to get them to improve.”