Rahul Dravid, quite rightly, came to be widely spoken of in very effusive terms when India won their second successive Test series in Australia earlier this year. For one reason or another, they had begun looking short on front-rank talent as the serialised contest unfolded when their subsidiary options, very heart-warmingly, started making a splash.
And it might not be exaggerating things if it is said that, eventually, when it was time for the triumph to be savoured, you would have been hard put to it to explain whom they owed it more to, the marquee names or the improbable neophytes who had compelled adulation by making themselves eminently useful when the going got rather too hot.
It didn’t take India too long to acknowledge Dravid’s contribution to the unprecedented overall achievement, given that he it was who had groomed quite a few of the new kids to their dramatically found stellar status by tutoring India’s U-19 boys and, of course, their A team. It also helps that Dravid happens to be the headmaster at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.
Few of us know indigenous talent better than the former national captain who has, since calling it quits as a player, been concentrating on nurturing young talent. So the country can feel justifiably, even pleasurably expectant when he is mentioned as the coach of a second string limited-overs contingent required to visit Sri Lanka while our first-choice boys are to be away in England.
It’s a step up in Dravid’s coaching career even if it isn’t with India’s la creme de la creme that he will be on a mission which does not really lend itself to being described as impossible. Truth to tell, it’s just as well that this is so because success, should it come about, in the venture will surely be attributed as much to his cerebral powers as the performers’ skills. Many cricket coaches carry on simply by being, euphemistically speaking, selfeffacing.
The senior Indian team have their captain at the top, with the coach too obliged to be loyal to him. Or, so it is said. Dravid might not be inclined to follow in the footsteps of these predecessors of his. He has always known what he is doing. And any team that he coaches will reflect his thinking and beliefs, thereby acquiring a distinctly different identity of its own. Will he be cricket’s closest approximation to a football coach who actually leads his team? There’s a point here, though.
Anil Kumble was not really very far from it and he stepped away when, as he said, his relationship with captain Virat Kohli had become untable. The cricket board looked the other way. Dravid cannot have forgotten it. Well might he be wary when they, going forward, hand him the ladder to the top, for he knows taking it away could with them be the work of an instant.