Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators chief Vinod Rai on Thursday announced that Rahul Dravid’s name had been proposed for the Dronacharya Award. But some of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials believe Dravid being nominated for the Dronacharya award is unfair on those childhood coaches of cricketers who spent hours behind the scenes before the players rose through the ranks and donned the U-19 cap or represented India A. The officials feel that while there is no denying the fact that Dravid’s contribution as coach of the U-19 and India A is unparalleled, handing him the award designated for coaches is nothing but harsh on the childhood coaches of the likes of Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal among others.
Speaking to CricketNext, a senior BCCI official said that while Dravid’s contribution to Indian cricket is incomparable, to hand him an award that is designated for coaches would be clearly unfair on those who handpicked these kids and spent hours to fine tune their skills and made them champion players. He went on to add that Dravid is undoubtedly a vital cog in the supply chain of Indian cricket and one of the major reasons why the bench strength in Indian cricket at present is the best in the world. But Rai’s decision to nominate the former skipper for the Dronacharya just three years into his coaching career sets a wrong precedent.
“The BCCI has always recognized and appreciated the immense contribution of Dravid. He was the anchor for the Indian batting line-up for years altogether, perfectly complimenting the other greats of his era whose contributions have also been always recognized and appreciated by the BCCI. They were players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan and many more. For playing the game with the excellence that they did, they were awarded by the Government of India as well with awards such as the Arjuna Award, Padma Shri, Khel Ratna and even the Bharat Ratna.
“When we speak strictly in terms of the Dronacharya Award, even a great player has to compete not on the basis of his performance as a player but solely on the basis of his performance as a coach. Not even as a mentor but as a coach. Each of the players playing in the U-19 World Cup have been coached through their childhood by a coach, at the state level by coaches at the U-14, U-16 and the U-19 levels. It was on the basis of those performances that those boys even made it to the India U-19 team. Would it be fair to ignore the immense hard-work and contribution put in by those coaches that has culminated in great performances? The key question would be whether the Dronacharya Award is given for coaching the boys or to guide them in a tournament?
“The contributions of a Tarak Sinha or an AN Sharma or many such others who toil at the grass-root level, to the field of coaching are honestly much greater than that of Dravid at this juncture. Dravid may surpass all of them but at this point in time I sincerely feel he has not done enough. It will become clear if you even peruse the criteria for the Dronacharya award. I think the CoA has been unfair to put Dravid’s name in the hat when as per the criteria of the award, he does not qualify. One can understand the love that the CoA may have for the stars of the game but as administrators, one has to respect the foundation more than the façade,” he explained.
Another BCCI official echoed the sentiments and quoted the guidelines of the award and said: "As per the guidelines, for cricket and indigenous games, not included in Olympic / Asian Games / Commonwealth Games disciplines, the selection committee will take into consideration the individuals performances / contribution of the sportspersons/coaches. In case of lifetime contribution in coaching, the selection committee will give its recommendations for such two coaches taking into consideration the contribution made by them over a period of 20 years or more in terms of producing outstanding sports-persons."
Starting off as mentor in 2014 with the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, Dravid was appointed as the India A and U-19 coach in June 2015. And on Thursday, Interestingly, it is believed that BCCI secretary Amitabh Chaudhary signed the nomination before it was sent forward. Dravid has been nominated for successfully guiding the India U-19 team to World Cup title earlier this year. Under his guidance, the Colts batch of 2016 also played the finals in Bangladesh. Also, Dravid has ensured that the ‘A’ team has done well and provided the senior team with necessary replacements time and again.