Rahul Dravid wants Prithvi Shaw and Co. to step up and ‘play men’s cricket’

Rahul Dravid, coach of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup-winning Indian side (led by Prithvi Shaw), wants his wards to focus on graduating to senior cricket and the Indian cricket team, emphasising on a step-by-step process, beginning with doing well in first class cricket.

cricket Updated: Feb 05, 2018 20:56 IST
Bihan Sengupta
Bihan Sengupta
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup,Rahul Dravid,Under-19 World Cup
ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup winning coach Rahul Dravid (right) and Indian U-19 cricket team captain Prithvi Shaw during a press meet after their arrival in Mumbai on Monday. (PTI)

There are coaches who get overwhelmed after winning a World Cup, and then there are many who would sit back bask in the glory. Then there is Rahul Dravid, who is simply keen to move on to the next assignment in store.

“The 2012 final featured India and Australia,” Dravid said after he and the Indian colts returned home after their victorious ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup campaign in New Zealand.

“The result of the final will tell you that India beat Australia. Six years down the line, only a couple of those boys played a few one-day games for India while four or five of the Australian boys have gone on to play for Australia. More of their guys have played first-class cricket. The debatable point is who won the final if you look back six years later?” added Dravid, trying to illustrate the point he wanted to convey.

Dravid’s assessment of this under-19 team isn’t beyond the clichés of “they were a great side”, “they played well” and so on. His concern now revolves around guiding these young talent on to the next level. Addressing the media in Mumbai on Monday, Dravid oozed discipline and class as he expressed his thoughts on the boys’ performance.

“The real satisfaction for me has been the process that has been followed over the last 14-16 months,” he said, with captain Prithvi Shaw sitting next to him on the dais. “I think, just the whole preparation and planning that has gone into developing under-19 players, and not necessarily players in this World Cup, is a good process that we’ve put in place.”

Dravid, who is the coach of the India A side as well, went on to defend his team selection and clarified his stand on not bringing eligible cricketers back into the under-19 fold.

“On a personal note, I feel that once the boys are good enough, they should go out and play men’s cricket. Especially boys who are playing first-class cricket as well,” he said, referring to the likes of Shaw and Shubman Gill, who have already played Ranji Trophy for Mumbai and Punjab respectively.

“There are a few who can perhaps come back and play for the under-19 World Cup team and while it might be good for the under-19 team, and boost our chances of winning the World Cup, I’m not sure that’s the best thing for them and Indian cricket,” he added.

So what lies ahead for these boys? Dravid feels it’s a shared responsibility.

“It’s not going to be easy for them to play domestic cricket or first-class cricket now that they are known players. There’s going to be expectations that are going to come with this. But it’s also the start of the hard work for us as well because even if a lot of them don’t go on to play the World Cup for India, which isn’t an easy task, but at least if they go on to play first-class cricket well, it’s going to be a stepping stone to get into the Indian side.”

Reiterating that the current crop of players a much more informed lot than he or his former teammates ever were, Dravid stated: “You can’t even compare generations. I think I played just one under-19 series, two Test matches against the visiting New Zealand side that came here, and that was it, really. And in comparison to that, the quality and quantity of cricket that these boys play is incomparable. The kind of professionalism and the support staff that these boys have got is what I had got when I first played for India.”

First Published: Feb 05, 2018 20:46 IST