‘Rahul Dravid won’t succeed, I was told’
Before Daljit Singh became India’s most famous pitch curator, there was a time when he used to be a coach, and a pretty good one too. In fact, Singh was appointed the chief coach of India’s Under-16 and Under-19 teams back in the day and he recalled spotting youngsters such as VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid, who would go on to become champion cricketers and later become legends of Indian cricket.
“Earlier BCCI used to have coaching programs for under-16 and under-19 teams and they would be in Bangalore. So, for two years I was made the chief coach of under-16 and under-19. And I remember young players like Laxman and Rahul Dravid - they all came through those camps. So I did that stint,” Singh told SportsKeeda in an interview.
“There was a camp in the 1990s, Azharuddin leading India to England. A two-week camp was held in Bangalore, I was one of the coaches for the Indian team preparing them for the English tour. So that was the coaching experience, very rewarding.”
Singh revealed how when he first followed a young Dravid from close quarters, he received opinions from people stating Dravid would never amount to a good cricketer. But Singh had a hawkish knowledge of cricket and a knack of spotting talent. Sure, there were some chinks in a young Dravid’s batting, but what impressed Singh was just how easily and quickly the youngster rectified his mistakes when put through the test.
“I never pushed any player for bookish knowledge and bookish technique. I tried to build on the strength of the player,” Singh said. “Like Rahul Dravid when he started, a lot of people told me that his bat is coming from outside, it is a crooked backlift, he will not succeed, so I had a good chat with him. I asked him if he can manage the incoming ball well and he replied that it was not a problem.
“So, we started testing him in the nets. In fact, he played the incoming ball better than any other ball. So, he had adjusted so well and he did so well with that backlift.”