Under-19 cricket World Cup 2018: Giving belief, India coach Rahul Dravid’s mantra
The Rahul Dravid coached Indian team has reached the final of the ICC U-19 cricket World Cup where they will take on Australia on Saturday.Updated: Feb 01, 2018 08:51 IST
Articulate and oozing with cricketing wisdom, the easiest path to tread for Rahul Dravid after retirement in 2011 would have been to head into the cool confines of the TV commentators’ box.
But Dravid has seldom been known to take the easy route. His hard work and unassuming approach added steel to the India batting line-up for around 15 years. And his willingness to keep wicket to become a regular member of the ODI team provided the side great flexibility.
Thus India’s second highest Test run-getter taking up the challenging and less glamorous role as junior and India A coach in June 2015 was in keeping with Dravid’s approach to the game.
India’s emerging talent couldn’t have asked for anything better than having an Indian cricket icon as coach and mentor. Dravid the thinker shone in the Bradman lecture – in his last Australia tour in 2011-12 before retirement. And former England skipper, Kevin Pietersen, paid tribute to Dravid’s coaching and motivational skills two years later, in his autobiography ‘KP’.
Pietersen, whose sensational attack on spinners put England on the victory path in the 2012-13 series in India, spoke about the e-mail from Dravid that changed a lot.
“Rahul was a great and heroic Indian batsman in his day. He is also a genius at dealing with spin bowlers. Our conversations and emails were a private masterclass from a genuine guru,” Pietersen wrote in his book. “Rahul improved my cricket and helped me develop the way I think about the game. His generosity will stay with me always.”
It is that willingness to share, take the responsibility to guide the youngsters and give them confidence that has stood out with Dravid the coach. He has insisted on his wards expressing themselves, and each one has acknowledged his contribution.
Sanju Samson swears by Dravid, who guided him at Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils in the IPL, and backed him through the Kerala player’s tough times last year. Hardik Pandya spoke how Dravid on the India A tour of Australia in 2016 helped transform his game and make him mentally strong.
While the BCCI has shown deference to Dravid’s stature, he has produced a blueprint to guide the country’s future talent. He is clear a player can appear in only one under-19 World Cup, ensuring a fresh group keeps coming through.
He made it clear on taking charge that junior cricket was to hone skill, not enhance fitness based on Yo-Yo tests. The focus of India A would be to produce the kind of performance that will help push for an India team spot.
Cheteshwar Pujara acknowledged how, down in the dumps before the 2015 Sri Lanka tour, playing for India A with Dravid as coach helped him regain confidence that led to his brilliant 145 in the third Test win in Colombo.
Dravid’s communication skills have been questioned when he was skipper. That despite his big hand as stand-in skipper in the historic 2004 Test series win in Pakistan, besides success in England and the West Indies. But one image that blew to bits such an impression was the under-19 World Cup squad in New Zealand pasting their coach’s face with the cake cut to mark his 45th birthday.
A win over Australia in the final, though, will be a bigger, and perfect, birthday present for the Dravid.