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Rahul Dravid opens up on his role as the coach of India A

Rahul Dravid opens up on his role as the coach of India A

A day after announcing that he had no aspirations to coach the senior team for the moment, the former Indian skipper showed just how well he had done his homework.

The setting was ideal for the new coach of the India A and Under-19 teams. A government school with around 40 students, media personnel and teachers crammed into a room no bigger than 10x10 feet. It was the grassroots level, and Rahul Dravid was unfazed.

If anything, Dravid as the face of P and G's Shiksha programme, was very comfortable sharing his stories with children and coaxing them to share theirs with him. He gave some of the students batting tips before switching to media mode. From there on, class was in progress.

He was a bit cautious in responding to questions regarding the Indian team and their current status, but made it clear that he backed Virat Kohli, the Indian Test skipper. "The team is moving in the right direction. We will have a lot of home series and it gives the team a good chance to settle down," said Dravid on Thursday (June 11). "It also gives our new Test captain a chance to settle down. I think we need to be patient with Virat and we need to give him a chance to come into his own. I think he will do very well."

Caution was thrown to the wind when questions turned to his new role. A day after announcing that he had no aspirations to coach the senior team for the moment, the former Indian skipper showed just how well he had done his homework.

"First, there's a Test series against South Africa - a couple of games - in the end of July in South Africa," explained Dravid of his own schedule after he managed to break away from the enthusiastic students. "Then there is a tri-series with Australia A joining us, followed by a couple of Test matches against Australia. It's going to be an exciting 40 days of cricket for the 'A' team. Right from July 22 to the end of August, we have cricket. I'm sure that a lot of young players will get a chance to impress the selectors."

That sounds like a lot of work, but Dravid sounded undaunted before skipping through to explain the under-19 programme for the coming year, just as matter-of-factly. "Obviously there's the World Cup next year in February. In terms of the schedule, they are still trying to work out what it is going to be.

"There are a couple of domestic tournaments before that. This year, I think, we are going to play the one-day tournament first and then followed by the four-day tournament. They will be playing cricket until December and after that you have time to prepare for the World Cup."

The day Anurag Thakur had announced that Dravid had shown interest in taking up the coaching offer, the BCCI secretary had also mentioned that the India 'A' side would play more games overseas to ensure the crop of players making it to the senior side don't face difficulties on surfaces outside of India.

Dravid was all for the idea but thought it would be hard for the BCCI to work out a schedule. "I think it's a good idea but the problem is that the only time the India 'A' guys are free is now, after the IPL and domestic season, so there is barely a window.

"The other problem is that it's not possible to play overseas at this time of the year because they will be busy with their domestic commitments. I think they are trying and it's only a question of scheduling now."

Although spending a couple of hours with children at a school is barely related to his role in the BCCI, he couldn't have timed his visit to this decrepit venue any better. It gave the ones who paid attention a glimpse of why many young players go to him for advice and also why he has been as successful as the mentor of Rajasthan Royals.

"Times like this humble me for sure. I am grateful for all the opportunities that I had as a youngster and it makes you realise that not many people are that lucky. I have had that luck. With initiatives like this, I think more and more children can get such opportunities."

first published:June 12, 2015, 12:26 IST