India’s legendary cricketer and former captain Rahul Dravid is all set to take a huge step forward in his coaching career, as he is expected to be in charge of the Indian team for the tour of Sri Lanka for a limited-overs series next month. It is only a short term arrangement for now, given India’s coach Ravi Shastri is in charge of the Test team that is set to tour England for the ICC World Test Championship final and the five-Test series against England that follows.
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However, many are excited that this could also be a teaser of sorts for things to come in the future. Ravi Shastri’s tenure ends with the ICC T20 World Cup. Will Dravid take over after that?
Dravid has not coached an international side in the past, but he does have plenty of coaching experience. Let’s have a look at his post-retirement career.
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Dravid retired from international cricket in March 2012 but played two more seasons of Indian Premier League for Rajasthan Royals. Being the captain and a senior figure, he was also the mentor of the side till he retired in 2013.
In 2014, Dravid took over officially as a mentor of Rajasthan Royals - a side that is known to groom youngsters. It fitted him perfectly, as he honed his skills of grooming youngsters as well. In his first season as mentor, RR finished fifth, missing out on a playoffs spot in the narrowest of margins possible to Mumbai Indians, on net run rate.
In 2015, RR finished third, losing to Royal Challengers Bangalore in the eliminator. Despite the loss, it was a good season for RR.
The experience was enough for Dravid to take the next step. He became the head coach of the next generation of Indian cricketers: the India Under-19 and India A teams.
Success followed immediately: India were the runner-up in the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh in 2016, where the likes of Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan and Washington Sundar emerged.
While he was doing that role, Dravid was also appointed mentor of Delhi Daredevils, where he had little success. In 2016 and 2017, when he was in charge of the franchise, they finished sixth.
In 2017, Dravid had to choose between the IPL and national commitments, with ‘conflict of interest’ becoming a big thing in Indian cricket. Dravid chose the latter, and continued to be the coach of the India Under-19 and A teams.
In 2018, Prithvi Shaw and co went one step ahead and gave Dravid what he missed in 2016: the Under-19 World Cup title, lifting the trophy in New Zealand. It was the tournament where the likes of Shaw, Shubman Gill, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi emerged.
In 2019, Dravid took another role, as the Director of Cricket Operations at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. It was a much larger role for the development of young cricketers in the country.
Through his tenure, not one player has gone without crediting Dravid for improving his game. Such has been Dravid’s influence, much beyond results.
NOT JUST RESULTS
Dravid, and his team, can be credited for putting in strong systems not just aimed at results at India A or India Under-19. Since he took over, selections to the national team have followed a strong process. Players who perform in domestic cricket are put to India A, from where they go to the national team. In short, India A has acted as a bridge between domestic and international cricket.
In his tenure, Dravid and the selectors worked on ‘shadow tours’, helping the senior team perform better overseas. While or before the national team tours a country, the India A team will have their own tour, thus enabling youngsters to acclimatise and get ready for the challenges.
Dravid also brought about an important change to the India Under-19 set up. That a player can represent the team only in one Under-19 World Cup. This has prevented age frauds, giving more young players opportunities.
As Dravid says, it’s not about the results at that level, but development of players.
“I don’t really focus on results at this India A level. I mean we try and rotate the squad as much as we possibly can, we give more boys the opportunity because I genuinely believe there is no best XI at the India A level, it is a squad, 15, maybe sometimes more than a 15 that the selectors are looking at and they are all performers at the first-class level. So we try and give them as many opportunities as we possibly can, and expose them to different conditions, even in places like Bangalore or wherever we play, even in India, we try and get wickets that are different to what they might expect with their first-class teams or Indian wickets and as much of foreign exposure as we possibly can give them. So, it is a whole package, it is a whole process really that is important," Dravid had told Cricketnext in an interview in 2018.
All this has meant India now have such a strong set up that they can play two series in two different countries simultaneously.
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