There is a sense of inevitability and no one is surprised at all by the ‘sources-based’ stories in media which more or less have anointed Rahul Dravid as the next India coach after the T20 World Cup gets over. So much so that former India coach Greg Chappell didn’t even wait for the official confirmation by the BCCI and congratulated Dravid on his new innings. And so did some of the great names of Indian cricket.
A style which is so typical of BCCI, it came up with the advertisement for the post of the next Head coach of Indian team on Sunday afternoon when the entire world already knows who is going to be picked, and perhaps it makes sense not to waste your time and energy in applying for the post unless you happen to be the most optimistic man in cricketing world.
Or maybe it is not a such a bad idea because many coaches would happily take it as a badge of honour by being eliminated in this race by none other than Dravid.
The main question is why is the BCCI pursuing Dravid so diligently? Such a mighty board in terms of power, money and influence, and an organization which historically doesn’t care much about the stature of icons post retirement is so uncharacteristically requesting Dravid for so long speaks volumes about his impeccable credentials as well as lack of fine options in current situation.
Gone are the days when a John Wright or Chappell or a Gary Kirsten will aspire to coach the Indian team since a two-month short-stay in similar kind of atmosphere with bigger rewards in the IPL has made the likes of Ricky Ponting, Mahela Jayawardene and even Stephen Fleming (the most successful coach in IPL history) not to be too enthusiastic about this job which was once considered an ultimate job for any coach in the world.
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Crucially, BCCI also needs a coach of the stature of Dravid for helping in navigate the leadership transition which is likely to take place in the next couple of years starting immediately after the T20 World Cup. The split captaincy process which may see Virat Kohli leading the Test side and Rohit Sharma the white ball team will need someone like Dravid to have a calming influence in the dressing room and it should not confuse a young player if the power equation keeps changing from one format to the other.
Like Mahendra Singh Dhoni (who has come on board as mentor for the T20 World Cup), Dravid enjoys an enormous amount of goodwill among cricketers, administrators and fans in equal measure. The BCCI knows that they can be completely free of any controversies with such a coach at the helm of affairs. A book launch controversy in England or one hyperbolic comment here and there in the media by Ravi Shastri is very unlikely to take place, and that can save a lot of unwanted distractions for the team.
However, it is true that merely goodwill won’t grant you such a high-profile job. And, what works in favour of Dravid is his ground work over the last many years as Under 19 and India A coach, and then the head of National Cricket Academy.
The former India captain is often regarded as a ‘process person’ and his methods have worked wonders for Indian cricket. From Hardik Pandya to Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Aggarwal to Shreyas Iyer, Mohammad Siraj to Washington Sundar, almost every young player who is likely to serve Indian cricket for the next five years or more, has spoken profusely about the contribution of Dravid.
Contrastingly, not even half the number of players have publicly spoken about the positive changes Shastri has brought in among the national players. The sustained struggle of the gifted Ajinkya Rahane and chequered journey of Cheteshwar Pujara in red-ball cricket are just few examples which may have prompted the BCCI to look out for someone who can fix these things.
The sudden-appointment of former great players as coach by Cricket South Africa (Mark Boucher) or Pakistan Cricket Board (Misbah-ul-Haq) hasn’t had the desired effect for them. However, with Dravid, this is unlikely to happen since he has cut his teeth in different capacities as coach with a fair amount of success even if he lacked the formal certificates. Never ever in the history of the game a player with over 10000 runs in both Tests and ODIs has been coach of a national team and the Dravid model could be just the trend-setter by the BCCI.