Former India batsman and coach of the national women’s team WV Raman has stated that it is only a matter of time when Rahul Dravid takes over the role of Head Coach for the senior Indian Men’s Team - a responsibility currently with Ravi Shastri. Dravid is currently the Head Coach of the Indian limited overs’ team touring Sri Lanka under the leadership of Shikhar Dhawan and has held many elite coaching stints in the past including coaching the India A and India Under-19 teams and also being the head of the NCA in Bengaluru.
Dravid has been hailed by a number of cricketers, pundits and analysts as a great student of the game and also a fine teacher. He has been credited with building a strong nucleus of Indian players at the grassroot levels having worked extensively with the Under-19 and A teams and as the head of the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. He is currently in Sri Lanka as the Head Coach of an Indian limited overs’ contingent which will clash with Sri Lanka in a three-match ODI series and in as many T20Is.
Ravi Shastri has had a fine stint as Head Coach of the Indian cricket team and shares a fantastic rapport with skipper Virat Kohli. He is stated to have excellent man-management qualities and knows how to inspire his team in the dressing room, motivating them to give their best on the field of play. Under his mentorship, India have dominated opposition teams all over the world in ODI and T20I cricket and also been at the pinnacle of Test cricket for the last few years. But if there is one thing that has eluded the former India all-rounder it is a major ICC trophy - India lost to New Zealand in the final of the World Test Championship and had bowed out in the semi-final of the 2019 World Cup.
Raman, recognizing this, stated that it was only a matter of time before Dravid replaced Shastri at the helm for India.
“I won’t want to talk about the time frame but Dravid taking over as full-time head coach is likely to happen, maybe some time in future. I can’t be indulging in crystal ball glazing and say when it will happen but it will happen whenever Dravid is ready. In fact, there has been a lot of talk going around for the last four-five years. It’ll happen when he feels he’s ready to take the travel,” quoted Raman.
Dravid started his coaching stint with India A and India Under-19 in June 2015 when Shastri was not even in the fray for the senior team. In fact The Wall was the first-choice head coach of the BCCI advisory committee comprising Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman to replace Duncan Fletcher but was hesitant as the assignment would involve extensive travel.
Shastri had a couple of stints as Technical Director and then replaced Anil Kumble as Head Coach of the national team after India’s loss to Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final in 2017. Dravid was also expected to work as a batting consultant with Shastri on selected tours but that never happened as BCCI regulations give full autonomy to the head coach to select his own support staff. Shastri decided to appoint Bharat Arun as bowling coach and Sanjay Bangar was retained as the batting consultant.
The biggest success for Dravid was helping the Under-19 team to lift the World Cup in 2018 while Shastri oversaw the team to two successive historic Test series wins in Australia against all odds.
With the BCCI sending two different teams simultaneously to England and Sri Lanka and with this appearing to be the norm at least for the foreseeable future till Covid-19 remains a part of everyday life, the debate between Shastri and Dravid cropped up again.
Raman was of the firm belief that Dravid should be given a longer stint which will help him to understand and train the team better.
“He can make them aware of the talent they possess. And he can also help them utilise that talent towards achieving the optimum. He’s anyway worked with most of these youngsters for a period of three-four years. But if he’s there with them regularly for a period of say two years, it will be easier to make changes as both the players and he will stick together and chalk out a plan or a routine on how to go about things. So a lot depends on the tenure that a coach works with the players,” said Raman.
Raman added that Dravid’s calm and composed personality will help the Indian team in Sri Lanka especially under tough situations and adversity.
“The very presence of Rahul Dravid will give these cricketers reassurance because he’s a calm person by nature and he’s also one of those who believes that failures are part of a cricketer’s career. He can sit with them, make sure they don’t get dejected, which is very important because when a cricketer is doing well, the entire world will be behind him. It’s only when they are having a bad day that they need somebody to have a chat. Rahul Dravid is someone who is very good at it, he can pick the players up,” he added.