A suitable coach for the Indian cricket team

May 23, 2016

(The following views are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Thomson Reuters)

The Indian cricket board’s experiment with former Indian players as coaches needs to reach its logical conclusion – an Indian head coach. At least, this time the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has the luxury of considering someone with credentials such as Rahul Dravid.

Indian cricket player Dravid speaks to the media as he announces his retirement from international cricket in BangaloreFew can rival his invaluable experience as a player, having scored over 24,000 runs and 48 centuries in international cricket. Dravid is a modern-day cricket legend and his understanding of the intricacies of the game, including the T20 format, will be of immense value to this young Indian team.

Besides, he has done the hard yard as  coach, having mentored IPL teams Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils, apart from coaching junior Indian teams (Under-19 and India A). He understands the rigours of the job.

Dravid may not have thrown his hat in the ring, but he is known to take decisions after weighing all the factors. For the current coach of the junior Indian teams and a mentor for the Delhi Daredevils, taking up Team India’s coaching assignment should be a natural progression.

Cautious as ever, Dravid told the media in April, “Anything that comes back to you needs to be weighed with a lot of consideration, not only in terms of whether you feel you want to do it but also time that is involved in doing a 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 percent focussed on it.”

Former Indian cricket captain Dravid speaks to Malaysian U-16 cricketers during a cricket clinic in Kuala LumpurHe may not have aired his intent but it appears India’s most prolific number three batsman of all time is considering all that the job entails. Now that June 10 is the BCCI’s deadline to accept job applications, the ball is in Dravid’s court.

Dravid had been a part of the core group of the Indian team, regarded to have the best batting lineup in its test history and arguably the finest in the world during its time.

It was perhaps the first Indian team that had the self-belief and aggression needed to win test matches in Australia, England, South Africa and Pakistan – traditionally the toughest to beat in their backyard. And it did.

INDIA'S DRAVID SHAKES HANDS WITH AUSTRALIAN CAPTAIN WAUGH AFTER HITTING THE WINNING RUNS AT THE ...The team led by Sourav Ganguly was truly a champion side and Sachin, Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag, Kumble, Harbhajan and Zaheer were his legendary sharpshooters who could bring down any team in their own territory. It was during this golden phase that the team systematically set out to win series abroad, which it famously did in England, Pakistan and New Zealand and just falling short in Australia and South Africa. India was almost unbeatable on home soil.

Perhaps this is the most valuable intangible asset that Dravid will bring to the table – the art of winning against the best.

To become a champion side, a team requires the technical prowess, self-belief, combative attitude and the ability to plot the opposition’s downfall coming from behind, as Dravid had done with Laxman in the famous Kolkata test against a ruthless Aussie outfit in 2001. And this is where Dravid’s experience will come in handy for Virat Kohli‘s boys, who are struggling to make their mark in test cricket.

Being one of the finest batsmen of his time, Dravid can provide the right ecosystem for the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma — some of the most promising batsmen in international cricket. Dravid can help convert their potential into consistent performance, more so in tough overseas conditions where glory can be elusive.

INDIA'S DRAVID TAKES A CATCH TO DISMISS AUSTRALIA'S MARTYN IN ADELAIDE.Another crucial phase where a player needs valuable technical input and support is when he is going through a lean period. And you can’t ask for a better person than Dravid to help iron out flaws.

The road to excellence can be brutally lonely and monotonous for a player. A coach who has accomplished success at the highest level can inspire players to realize the importance of routine training regimens, sacrifice and commitment needed to excel in international cricket. What separates the greats from others is work ethic and mental toughness. The way Boris Becker has helped Novak Djokovic to transform himself into a great champion illustrates the role of a coach, even though tennis is an individual sport unlike cricket.

Another skill for which Dravid hasn’t received enough credit is fielding in the slip cordon. He holds a world record of 210 catches, mostly in slips – where most players except Rahane have struggled. This is one area where Dravid may have to work the hardest as it needs specialised training and understanding of the field position.

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting also believes Dravid will make a good coach.

“… I don’t think the BCCI will find many better candidates than someone like him (Dravid),” Ponting said recently. “If he’s interested in doing the job, he will do a good job.”

Can the Indian cricket board get a better endorsement for Rahul Dravid as coach?

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