For Dravid, coaching was a ‘natural progression’ after retiring from the game

Rahul Dravid with the Editor-in-Chief of ThePrint Shekhar Gupta
Rahul Dravid with the Editor-in-Chief of ThePrint Shekhar Gupta| Off The Cuff

As the legend turns 45, ThePrint recalls his conversation with Shekhar Gupta, where he talked about the highs and lows of his career.

New Delhi: “For a career full of grace, charm, timing, and poise, it was sad that it had to end with a slog. But, that was once again, just what the team needed.” Commentator Harsha Bhogle’s words about Rahul Dravid still ring true for a man who has taken up the mantle of team building even after retirement.

A man of few words, Dravid had opened up on modern cricket, mentoring, and other aspects of the game to Shekhar Gupta at ThePrint’s ‘Off the Cuff’ event on 13 April 2016.

“I had the fortune of interacting with cricketers like G.R. Viswanath and Roger Binny, who were great mentors for me even before the word ‘mentor’ became a famous word,” recalled Dravid, explaining why conversations with experienced players were always helpful for youngsters.

Coaching and mentoring gives one an opportunity to get involved in the game again, and get one’s hands dirty. For Dravid, coaching was a “natural progression”, since even during his playing days, he was often seen donning the role of mentor.

“When you become a senior, you want to make sure that things become easier for the next generation of cricketers coming through, and help them as much as you can in the team environment,” he said.

Watch the Off The Cuff with Rahul Dravid here:

Dravid, now the head coach of the India under-19 and ‘A’ team, spoke about the attitudinal shift in the current crop of Indian cricketers. “The generation today challenges you, asks you questions. They are willing to learn, but are not blindly going to believe what you say,” Dravid said. It is no longer about dictating to someone.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor asked him about the infamous decision of not imposing the follow-on in the 2007 Test match against England at The Oval. The decision meant India let go of the advantageous position in the match and ended up scraping a draw.

Dravid countered by explaining why such decisions are needed to manage the workload of bowlers. “You don’t want to burn out the bowlers. We had just four bowlers, and with the quality of wickets improving, it is not easy to knock a side down twice,” he said.

Dravid, who holds the record for most number of catches for a non-wicketkeeper in Test cricket, revealed that dropping catches was his most disappointing moment on the field.

No one challenged Dravid’s off stump more than Australian pace great Glenn McGrath. He was always puzzled how McGrath made him the play at wider balls. Probably, this is one lesson that the current Indian batsmen would do well to learn. “The trick is to leave the balls outside off and make the bowlers bowl straight,” he said.

On current India captain and batting talisman Virat Kohli, Dravid said: “His greatest strength is that he is able to answer the questions posed to him and that is why he is able to grow.”

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