How Rahul Dravid instilled confidence in young cricketers
India have announced a ‘full-strength’ second squad for the tour of Sri Lanka, while their main squad is in England for the WTC final and the Test series against England. It’s to the credit of a strong domestic structure that has enabled India to send a squad which is as strong as any in the world despite their regulars away on Test duties.
When it comes to those who have been instrumental in strengthening the domestic structure, Rahul Dravid’s name pops up first. The former India skipper, who is currently the NCA chief, has been at the helm of India U-19 and India A squads, overseeing the growth of the next crop of cricketers. So, what is the mantra that Dravid has followed in recent years?
"I tell them upfront, if you come on an A tour with me, you will not leave here without playing a game. I've had that personal experience myself as a kid: going on an A tour and not getting an opportunity to play is terrible. You've done well, you scored 700-800 runs, you go, and you don't get a chance to show what you're good at," Dravid was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo on The Cricket Monthly.
"Then you're back to square one from the selectors' point of view, because the next season you have to score those 800 runs again. It is not easy to do that, so there is no guarantee you'll get a chance again. So. you tell people upfront: this is the best 15 and we are playing them. This is not about the supposed best XI. At U-19, we make five-six changes between games if we can,” revealed the Wall.
Dravid also talked about how the systems and methodology have changed over the years.
"Playing on the beach and playing on the road doesn't make you a cricketer. It makes you someone who loves the game. That's what we had. We had a lot of people who loved the game. Unless you give that guy a proper matting wicket or a turf wicket, unless you give him some half-decent coaching, some half-decent fitness assistance... where was all this in the 1990s and the 2000s?" Dravid pointed out.
"There was no access to it. We were starved of knowledge. Even in terms of fitness, we used to look at the Australians and South Africans and we used to look at their fitness trainers, and what did we get? 'Don't do too much gym, your body will become stiff. Bowl, bowl, and bowl. Run rounds and laps," he added.