Was the Twenty20 International series against New Zealand, who found themselves simply blown away, the start of Rahul Dravid’s second, tutorial innings in Indian cricket? Not really, if you reckon with his stint in the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore, where he had worked so painstakingly, meticulously and intelligently ~ far away from the glamour the game was associated with in this land ~ that when India won a second successive Test series in Australia, this time with quite a few improbable players primed without publicity or magniloquence, the demand for Dravid to be put at the head of the seniors team, spontaneous and automatic, took on the character of a popular wish, like a public prayer for a miracle.
It was not as if Ravi Shastri had made a hash of the job ~ the series wins in Australia were never-before achievements ~ but Mr Average Man and the expert poising the knowing pencil alike wanted the erstwhile No. 3 batsman back in the forefront. He had never been easy to get rid of when in action, and the way he had batted in his day might have stuck in the mind of the philosophy professor and the airport booking clerk and if anyone wrote like RC RobertsonGlasgow, they would have said he stood up to assorted bowling demons like the oak received the storm.
But Dravid did not really become an insomniac thinking of how to outperform New Zealand. And, victory achieved, he said, before leaving Kolkata, where the last match was played, that the visitors had been knackered, playing three matches in less than a week after a gruelling World Cup in West Asia. A clean sweep did not induce any hyperbolic triumphalism in him. How Dravid was going about his job came to be revealed by a youngster not really flying high at the moment.
“The coach always stands by someone not getting runs,” he said, adding: “He never stops encouraging him.” A glutton for hard work, whether playing or coaching, Dravid also has the softer side in him which cricketers, seeking security, appreciate. Since it is a secure man who can assure others around him of the safety without which performance slumps and results prove elusive, India in the none too distant future should be the team Dravid wants them to be for their own good.
It is not as if the format-specific captains will cease to matter but they are also likely to have had it driven home already that the coach of the team ~ think back to Anil Kumble, before Shastri ~ is not to be taken for granted by anyone within the squad and eventuality left undefended by the cricket board.
The functional alteration should restore a certain decision-making equilibrium to the Indian team, the lack of which resulted in Ravichandran Ashwin being left out of the Tests against England on the tour some time ago. Dravid will not find himself in the sort of situation where, in Australia, Justin Langer recently had cricketers sitting in judgment on him. To say all that, though, is not to imply that life henceforth will be a merry cruise on a balmy day. There will always be points of inquiry, even with the Press being allowed only limited contacts with the team and their notables.
One of these is what Dravid feels about the way cricket conducts itself in a world afflicted with Covid-19. Last year, he was quoted on a website as saying that he was sceptic about the advisabiity of in-camera Test matches. He wondered how things would be if a player tested positive during a match. Also, the choice of the first 11 will ignite a fuse or two periodically. With Dravid, though, you can count on cent per cent honesty. That is part of his fundamental strengths.