Can 'The Wall' guide India? Gavaskar, Ponting back Rahul Dravid to be national coach
The way Rahul Dravid has moulded IPL’s perennial underachievers Delhi Daredevils into a well-oiled unit has won him praise from several quarters, and many have said the India Under-19 coach take on the responsibility of handling the senior side as well
The “unfancied” Delhi Daredevils’ surprising rise in the Indian Premier League (IPL) points table has been one of this season’s main talking points. The way Rahul Dravid has moulded IPL’s perennial underachievers into a well-oiled unit has won him praise from several quarters. Many ex-players and experts have expressed a desire to have the India Under-19 coach take on the responsibility of handling the senior side as well.
The latest big name former cricketer to lend his support to Dravid is batting legend Sunil Gavaskar, who said that if the BCCI was looking for a change, the Wall was the man best suited for the job. “I have been saying that for long. Every player needs a cooling period (after retirement), and it seems Rahul Dravid has served his cooling period. My honest advice to BCCI is that in case they are looking for a change, there is no one better than Rahul Dravid,” he was quoted as saying.
Gavaskar’s endorsement came barely days after two-time World Cup winning Australian captain and current Mumbai Indians coach Ricky Ponting said Dravid has all the attributes it took to helm the Indian cricket team. “It’s not my decision to make and it depends on what BCCI are looking for. Do they want an Indian coach or an overseas one? I don’t think BCCI will find many better candidates than someone like him (Dravid). If he’s interested in doing the job, he will do a good job. He’s got a lot of knowledge, is very experienced and understands all three formats because he has worked in IPL. He will be a great candidate, but it depends on what the BCCI thinks is the best fit for the Indian cricket team and also depends on what the captain wants. Whatever Virat (Kohli) wants around the Test team, I am sure the BCCI will listen to him,” Ponting had said.
The Dravid formula is easily identifiable — made to perform multiple roles during his playing days, he has tried to inculcate the same versatility in his teams as well. Even if some have accused his Delhi Daredevils side of over-experimentation, he has largely stuck to his guns and given youth a chance. So you have different players opening the innings, while the team composition and batting orders are also very fluid. The Indian national team, at least under captain MS Dhoni, have always attempted for a settled look, with Dhoni loath to tinkering with a winning formula. And though Dhoni is no longer the skipper in the game’s longer format, it remains to be seen how such a drastically new approach will work with the establishment.
There is also the question of whether Dravid himself will take up such an intense assignment. The Indian team will face rigorous Test series against West Indies, New Zealand, Australia and England over the next 12 months, including an extended schedule at home. Before the start of the IPL, he had said it would depend on whether he has the time and bandwidth to take this up. “Anything that comes back to you needs to be weighed with lot of consideration, not only in terms of whether you feel you want to do it but also time that is involved in doing lot of these things — what does it entail and what does it require, can you devote time and energy, anything that you would want to do, you want to ensure you are completely 100 per cent focused on it,” he had said.
The BCCI may also have to take into consideration where the players’ loyalties lie. Many players, including captain Virat Kohli, have firmly thrown their weight behind incumbent Ravi Shastri. In addition, Shastri led the team to a series of fine performances both home and away. Hence, there is a chance that the board may not upset the apple cart at all and stick by what has worked so far.
As of now, we await the last 10 days of the IPL. Qualification and a good showing in the play-offs could result in Rahul Dravid getting the all-important leg-up to become Team India's coach. Failure to make the top four could mean we are back to the drawing board once again.
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