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Dravid Says India A Level is More About Development, Not Just Selection

Cricketnext Staff | Updated: August 30, 2018, 8:37 AM IST
Dravid Says India A Level is More About Development, Not Just Selection

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It's been a busy few months for Rahul Dravid and his India A team. A successful tour of England was followed by a quadrangular one-day tournament involving India A, India B and A sides from Australia and South Africa. Now India A will also take on Australia A in two four-day games next month.

Dravid, the India A coach, was grateful to the BCCI for organising a steady flow of matches and said it would help players bridge the gap between domestic and international cricket.

"It has been a good year. Obviously the tour of England was probably an added bonus which you get once in three-four years," he told on the sidelines of the quadrangular series final in Bangalore, where India B beat Australia.

"The A team programme is pretty solid. We're trying to get as much cricket as we can. For me it's really good step up from the first-class domestic cricket where a lot of these boys play in and score runs. It's a good sort of... you can bridge that gap between domestic and international cricket. The quality of cricket is better, we're playing against an Australia A team here which has got about 10 internationals, the South Africans brought a lot of international players. So pretty good opportunity for a lot of these young players who have performed in domestic cricket to test themselves against slightly better opposition.

"It also gives selectors an opportunity to see people better, at a slightly elevated level of competition. It's good for us, the more cricket we play at this level working around the domestic schedule, it's great."

Dravid explained he stays in touch with the national selectors and discusses potential options for the senior side, but stressed that the idea of A team cricket was to develop skills of the players and not focus solely on selections.

"There is certain level of communication obviously with the selectors, and obviously they communicate with the Indian team there as well. So we do work, our main aim of A team cricket is to develop good players for national team," he explained. "If the national team is winning then we're all winning. That's the whole idea of this thing, so there are times when we're discussing the kind of players they're looking for not only in the short term but also in the long term. We see if we can develop those players at the A team. At this level it's sometimes more about the development.

"To be honest I don't get into the selection things too much but yes, the players we see here, we're happy to chat with them about some of the skills that we as coaches here at the A team level see that they maybe need to step up or work on. We're happy to give them the opportunity to work on them if we can.

"We've had players from the national team come back and play at this level as well which is great. Great for some of our youngsters to interact with them. It also gives them a chance to build up before an important series like the England series or Australia later this year."

Sometimes, Dravid and his support staff are left to handle mixed emotions within the camp due to selection scenarios. An example was the recent selection of Prithvi Shaw for the Indian Test side, which also meant there was no place for Mayank Agarwal.

"It's something we deal with on a day to day basis. A lot of the guys who come here, let's not forget, they're all performers," said Dravid. "You don't get to India A not having performed. They're all guys who have done well at the domestic level and aspiring to play for India. And it does happen, sometimes people just miss out. It's just the nature of the game and nature of the beast that we play in. For us, at least from my perspective, it's to keep the focus on improvement and not so much on selection.

"Selections will happen and some people will be happy and some disappointed. But if we keep improving our skills and keep testing them against good opposition, then hopefully when they get the opportunity they're ready for it, cash in and hopefully stay in the Indian team for longer.

"There are challenges and there at times when you need to have conversations with people, keep them going and sometimes push them. Sometimes selectors make a decision and take a call on A vs B, and it's hard to choose. There's enough arguments to say A should have been selected or B should have been selected and you can go either way on the selection. That's what happens, this is a team sport where not everything is in our control. What we try and do at this level is try and focus the boys on what is in their control and take the focus away from what is in not their control. Selection is unfortunately one of those things which is not necessarily in your control."
First Published: August 30, 2018, 8:24 AM IST

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