Rahul Dravid appointed India's new coach
- The former captain was the only name BCCI were interested in after current coach Ravi Shastri had announced that he would step down after the World Cup. Dravid's first assignment will be New Zealand's tour to India later this month.
Even as Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul were blazing away against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday evening in a desperate bid to keep India’s T20 World Cup hopes intact, a confirmation about the appointment of Rahul Dravid as head coach arrived from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The former India captain succeeds Ravi Shastri and will take charge of the senior team from the upcoming home series against New Zealand, which includes three T20Is starting November 17 followed by two Test matches.
Dravid’s appointment has been a foregone conclusion in recent weeks with the board’s top brass convinced that he is the man most equipped to guide the Indian team forward. It has been reported that the 48-year-old, who seemed initially reluctant given the travel demands, was cajoled to take over when he met BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah during the IPL final in Dubai on October 15.
In a media release on Wednesday, the BCCI said that the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), comprising Sulakshana Naik and RP Singh, unanimously appointed Dravid as the head coach. That there was no other choice apart from Dravid is clear from the fact that the CAC did not even have a chairman in place. Former India medium-pacer Madan Lal had been the erstwhile chief of the committee but he had to give up his post in March once he was over the age of 70.
“Dravid has graduated from the bottom (of the coaching set-up) to the top. He has been all over the world, knows the conditions. He is the right choice for Indian cricket from every aspect,” Lal said.
After his appointment, Dravid said that he was eager to start working with the players and build on the work that Shastri had done.
“It is an absolute honour to be appointed as the new head coach. I am really looking forward to this role. Under Shastri, the team has done very well, and I hope to work with the team to take this forward. There are some marquee multi-team events in the next two years, and I look forward to working with the players and the support staff to achieve our potential,” he stated in the BCCI release.
Dravid will now be working closely with former teammate and current BCCI chief Ganguly on carving out a successful blueprint.
"Super news for Indian cricket that we have a coach who has played a big part in Indian cricket while playing, now he is going to play his second innings," said former India wicketkeeper Kiran More. "Rahul has played under some big coaches and he has been part of NCA so he understands the system. He has the knack of understanding each and every player."
This was the primary reason for BCCI worked so hard to chase the former captain for the post of head coach--Dravid has built a legendary reputation as India U 19 and India A coach over the last few years, guiding the team to the U19 World Cup title in 2018, before becoming the Head of Cricket at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in 2019. He is widely credited with finding and shaping the next generation of Indian cricketers, including Rishabh Pant, Washington Sundar, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, Mohammad Siraj, and Axar Patel.
Dravid takes charge at a tricky time for the senior team. With Virat Kohli already announcing that the ongoing World Cup will be his last as T20I captain, the New Zealand series will see a completely new combination at the helm of affairs. Whether India need a change of leadership in ODI cricket too is a question that Dravid will soon have to answer. The Men in Blue will be embarking on a full-fledged tour of South Africa in December and January, where they play three Tests, three ODIs and four T20Is. Next year, there's also the T20 World Cup, followed the year later by the ODI World Cup.
His in-depth knowledge of the talent rising through the ranks should hold him in good stead considering the transition that Indian cricket will have to go through in the next couple of years.
Dravid’s immediate attention will be on the personnel who constitute his support staff. It is known that bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding R Sridhar have chosen not to reapply for their positions. While the BCCI, interestingly, congratulated batting coach Vikram Rathour too for his tenure, the former India opener has reapplied for the position. The deadlines to apply for the post of batting coach, bowling coach and fielding coach was November 3.
“It’s great to work with a team of such highly motivated and skilful players. So, it has been a good experience. Going forward, I’ve already applied for the batting coach’s job. If I get that job, there’ll be a lot of work to be done,” Rathour confirmed.
Pravin Amre and Hrishikesh Kanitkar are a couple of notable names who have thrown their hat into the ring for the batting coach’s job.
Former India pacer Paras Mhambrey is considered the frontrunner to take over as bowling coach, having been an integral member of Dravid’s support staff at the India A level. For the role of fielding coach, Abhay Sharma and Ajay Ratra are among the names who have applied.