A lot has been said over Duncan Fletcher’s stint at one of the most lucrative jobs in world cricket. What stands out like a sore thumb is his dismal record with the Indian team in foreign conditions. The argument that having a foreign coach makes the team well versed with alien conditions goes for a toss when one looks at India’s away records since 2011. The fact that India have lost every away series without a single win over the past 3 years says a lot about the team’s mindset and Fletcher’s inability to lead the team out of murky waters.
Last time, India won a Test match abroad, there was a ‘Wall ‘ at its helm, not as a skipper, but leading the team from No.3 -Rahul Dravid. Arguably one of India’s best, Dravid has excelled in whatever challenges he has been thrown at over the years. Be it wearing the gloves behind the wicket when India had a tough few years finding a reliable batting wicket-keeper, or when India needed a skipper to take charge during the Chappell-Ganguly row. When he felt he was stifled with interferences, he happily stepped down as the skipper after the successful tour of England in 2007 which surprised many.
After a brief stint at the the helm of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), it took him a while before he returned as a skipper again, but this time with the IPL franchisee, Rajasthan Royals. He took an under rated outfit with unknowns like James Faulkner and Sanju Samson to the final 4 and into the Champions League final, turning them into superstars on the way. With all that action that unfolded during last years IPL, we can safely say that Dravid might just have the knack of finding players that goes under the radar and give them the confidence to perform and express themselves at an international level.
Rahul Dravid has never been a man of highlights. He’s not the kind of batsman that you grow up admiring if you look at all those highlights shows during the post match session. He’s the person who sticks in the middle through all the hard times and the good times, without giving up and happy to play second fiddle to the superstars, be it Tendulkars 186*, Saurav Ganguly’s 183, VVS Laxman’s 281 and Virendar Sehwags 309; Dravid was always there at the other end, being the dark knight who saves the day for the team;the silent guardian angel.
It’s adversity that shapes character, and some of Dravid’s best has come at times when India needed it the most, a true reflection of his altruistic persona. At a time when Indian cricket was ruled by gods, Dravid still captured the minds of fans and created a niche for himself. When India began the losing streak abroad, fans complained that the only person to get them out of the fix was in the commentator’s box; retiring without much fanfare, staying true to his character, Rahul Dravid chose to move out on his own.
His best performance in his last tour of Australia however was the Don Bradman lecture, where he emphasized on some of the important issues cricket faced today delivered in his true style, giving us an insight into his highly analytical mind.
Indian cricket has been on a down slide abroad, but Indian fans, with a short lived memory fuelled by a few home series wins last year, failed to notice that something was indeed wrong . The bowling has been on a decline for quite a while and the players worth giving a long rope have never been really given the right chances. The captaincy in test matches has always been a question mark tucked quietly under the rug, but has been forgotten thanks to a series of home test matches India won. Having said all that, the selectors should have pulled the trigger when the English came home to win a series in our own backyard.
A look at the recently concluded IPL auctions proves a lot about Rahul’s mastery over people management and talent spotting. The man goes about his things quietly with zero fuss and that’s someone tailor made for the toughest job in the sub-continent. He definitely has an eye for talent, which was quite evident in the way he handled Sanju Samson, an unknown 18 year old .
Then there’s Deepak Hooda who was brought this year. Hooda backed it up with a 5 wicket haul and a handy innings down the order for the India colts in the ongoing Under 19 WC in UAE. Tagging him as a future Indian coach for some might be thinking too far ahead given that he has never been one at any level, but he is the perfect answer if the BCCI ever looks for a coach of Indian origin;someone who knows how the system works and someone who has donned the Indian colours with utmost integrity and honour.
For someone who had to put extreme levels of hardwork to stand where he is today, unlike some of his peers who had immortal batting talent, Dravid is someone who understands mortal players going through tough times while changing techniques and adjusting to conditions,thereby standing out as the perfect man for the coach’s role. It might still be early for people in the board to take him seriously for the coach’s role, and it’s still early to say that he might be successful at it, but let’s hope he takes up the job without shying away when it comes his way. Fingers crossed for a bright English summer.