At a broad level, leading a country or a cricket team is somewhat similar. For men in these positions, the issue is about leadership and being in control. The boss has clout, but there is a catch: He receives opinion and advice from all quarters but he alone has to provide the answers.
This is a message Tony Blair and Rahul Dravid shared, though from altogether different perspectives at the recent HT Summit. Blair built his case with persuasive reasoning, forceful arguments and great clarity. The world today is global, he said, speaking in the context of terrorism, climate change, the energy crisis and the financial slump. In an integrated and inter-dependent world, problems springing up in one part quickly travel to the farthest corner of the globe. The message therefore is: nobody is protected; everyone is vulnerable. The only way to defeat these problems is by understanding the roots of every issue and sound leadership.
Rahul Dravid too sees a critical role for leadership to tackle the challenges of world cricket. In the context of Tests vs Twenty20, the growing impact of commercialisation and the declining standards of player behaviour, Dravid thinks the answers lie with wise men who look not just at the next ball but at the next session.
Repeating his usual position that cricket hasn't changed fundamentally (it still is a game between 11 men with a bat and a ball) Dravid said leadership is about knowing what to do, and then actually doing it. Right leadership, for instance, means striking a balance between different forms of the game, improving facilities and providing opportunities for talent to realise its potential.
No less important is the leadership of senior players in the dressing room, who must set an example to show juniors the path to excellence. In all this, education and strong guidance is the key; youngsters breaking into the top league even before they are old enough to vote need special tuitions to cope with the challenges of celebrityhood.
Without such support systems, the demands of a commercial world and living life under harsh scrutiny can be unnerving. Dravid's bottom line: the NCA should not restrict itself to merely correcting the backlift and wrist position of young cricketers but also focus on their all-round growth to prepare them for the real world outside the field.