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Rahul Dravid non-committal on being future India coach

Unlike in 2016 and 2017 when Rahul Dravid had flatly refused, this time he isn’t saying yes or no.
Indian team head coach for Sri Lanka tour Rahul Dravid along with Indian Skipper Shikhar Dhawan.(ANI)
Published on Jul 30, 2021 01:12 PM IST
ByRasesh Mandani

For the 19 Indian players who played in Sri Lanka---almost half of them debuted in one format or the other---the tour was an opportunity to learn from Rahul Dravid. Beyond victories and defeats, Dravid was the elder statesman everyone turned to. Not just this young playing group, even Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka sought his counsel.

For Dravid, 48, this series marked his first outing as the head coach of a senior India team. And although he took the job only because Ravi Shastri is in England with the Test team, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will soon have to take a call over giving an extension to the coaching staff. Shastri’s tenure as head coach ends with the T20 World Cup. At that juncture, the BCCI may want to know if Dravid is willing to accept the role on a long-term basis.

Should an opportunity arise, would he say yes? “I haven't really thought anything far ahead, to be honest,” he said on Thursday after India lost the third T20I to Sri Lanka by seven wickets. Currently, Dravid is the director of the National Cricket Academy, and is overseeing the NCA’s relocation to the soon-to-be-constructed premises close to the Bengaluru airport. “I am enjoying doing what I am doing,” he said.

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Dravid also is in charge of the U-19 and the India ‘A’ systems and has been the driving force behind the wide pool line of talent Indian cricket currently enjoys. A majority of the India players in Sri Lanka have worked with Dravid in the past. “I have enjoyed the experience (head coach). I have loved working with these guys. It's been great,” he said. “And no, I haven't given a thought to anything else. There are a lot of challenges doing full time roles, so I really don't know.”

Back in 2016, before the job went to Anil Kumble, Dravid was the BCCI’s first choice. He had politely refused. Again, after Kumble’s tenure ended abruptly in June 2017, Dravid had emerged the lead candidate. He again said no to the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), choosing to continue developmental work with the age-group teams. After Shastri’s appointment, Dravid’s name had emerged as India’s batting coach---an appointment made by the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC). The decision was soon changed to a recommendation and ultimately overturned by the CoA. Shastri got the support staff of his choice.

Whether Shastri continues may entirely depend on India’s showing in the T20 World Cup, beginning October 17. Both Shastri and captain Virat Kohli enjoy a great equation and India’s Test team has made considerable progress under them. But India have also had several failures in ICC events---the 2016 T20 World Cup, 2017 Champions trophy, 2019 ODI World Cup and the recent ICC World Test Championship final.

One other technical reason that could come in the 59-year-old Shastri’s way is the age limit of 60 years BCCI has set for the head coach. That could change easily though. Shastri and Kohli’s immediate challenge are the five Test matches in England. India had lost the last Test series in England 1-4 in 2018.

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