Rahul Dravid: The wolf who lived by the pack

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He is one of the affable blokes of Indian cricket. Not surprisingly, the news of legendary Indian cricketer and former captain Rahul Dravid assuming coaching duties for the senior side was music to the ears to most of the Indian cricket aficionados. Given the blockbuster summer schedule, the Board for Control of Cricket In India (BCCI) has decided to send two different teams to England and Sri Lanka.

Whilst the team in England would be comprising of Test cricket specialists, who would play the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand and then a five-Test series against England later. The other team would be the white-ball team that will play ODI and T20 series in Sri Lanka.

And Rahul Dravid, who is currently in charge of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) and Indian ‘A’ team as well as the Under-19 team, is expected to be in charge of the Indian team for the tour of Sri Lanka. It is only a short-term arrangement for now, given India’s coach Ravi Shastri is in charge of the Test team that is set to tour England.

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Rahul Dravid: Setting the tone

That Dravid has played a major role in moulding the younger members of the India sides who trained under him at the A and Under-19 levels and have gone on to win international matches. It is no secret that since his retirement, the former India captain has excelled in his role of mentoring the gen-next and has unearthed some of the gems like Shubman Gill, Shivam Mavi and Prithvi Shaw.

BCCI president Sourav Ganguly had also praised his former team-mate for doing a “great job at the NCA” for looking after the second-string players. Dravid moved from being head coach of the A and Under-19 sides to the director of cricket at the NCA in 2019. However, many are excited that this could also be a teaser of sorts for things to come in the future. Ravi Shastri’s tenure ends with the ICC T20 World Cup. Will Dravid take over after that? Dravid has not coached an international side in the past, but he does have plenty of coaching experience.

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Due to the absence of crucial players during the India vs Sri Lanka series, many uncapped Indian players will get a chance to make their international debut, something that Rahul Dravid has maintained throughout his tenure as a coach.

But why the Dravid-way has worked?

The former Indian cricketer has put strong systems in place where everyone has a defined role.

That the under-19 cricketers were always seen to make a progression into India ‘A’ side, the latter was treated as a feeder system to the senior setup. Hence, Dravid, and his team, can be credited for putting in strong systems not just aimed at results.

The recent success of the senior team in Australia can be attributed to strong bench strength, something that is a direct result of Dravid’s systems.

Since he took over, selections to the national team have followed a strong process. Players who perform in domestic cricket are put to India A, from where they go to the national team. In short, India A has acted as a bridge between domestic and international cricket. In his tenure, Dravid and the selectors worked on ‘shadow tours’, helping the senior team perform better overseas. While or before the national team tours a country, the India A team will have their own tour, thus enabling youngsters to acclimatise and get ready for the challenges.

As Dravid says, it’s not about the results at that level, but the development of players.
All this has meant India now have such a strong set-up that they can play two series in two different countries simultaneously.

Maybe, he is not a part of the pack anymore but the Indian team will always stay on as his priority until he is associated with the game.

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