The internet has been full of excitement over the rumour of former Indian cricket great Rahul Dravid donning the coach’s hat for India’s expected tour to Sri Lanka, in the coming weeks. This speculation is based on the absence of Ravi Shastri, Virat Kohli & Co due to the upcoming World Test Championship final in England.

 

This will be Dravid’s second stint in a coaching position with the senior men’s team, after he had travelled with the squad as a batting consultant during the tour of England, in 2014.

Since then, the ex-Indian skipper’s presence has been enormous in bridging the gap between India’s international teams and the country’s domestic cricket eco-system.

 

As coach of the India under-19 and ‘A’ teams — he had assumed charge in mid-2015 — Dravid has guided the next generation of Indian cricketers, according to The Hindu. Dravid is also the Director of Cricket Operations at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. He continues to supervise the under-19 and India A teams and ensures the natural progression of these cricketers into the Ranji and international folds, respectively.

Under-19 WC

Dravid’s biggest achievement with India’s under-19 players came in 2018, when a Prithvi Shaw-led outfit clinched India’s fourth ICC Under-19 World Cup title in New Zealand.

 

It included a 203-run thumping of Pakistan in the semi-final and a resounding eight-wicket win over Australia in the ultimate game of the tournament. Apart from Shaw, the competition helped breed talented Indian cricketers like India’s Test opener Shubhman Gill, and IPL starlets Arshdeep Singh and Riyan Parag.

 

Dravid’s Team India had made it to the final of the previous U-19 World Cup in Bangladesh as well. They fell short against the West Indies in the final, but names like Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan, Washington Sundar and Avesh Khan have made successful graduations to higher grades of cricket.

India A team

Having played ‘A’ tours in the past, Indian players are getting a much higher number of opportunities to do so now (excusing the pandemic-hit era).  In 2018/19, India A visited England and New Zealand ahead of the Test series in England and Australia respectively; several cricketers on the ‘A’ tours played in the subsequent Tests.

 

For instance, Mayank Agarwal was thrown into the deep end of the vital Melbourne Test on that tour, travelling on an SOS from India. He exhibited laudable big stage fortitude in the Boxing Day Test. Later, Mayank revealed Dravid’s simple yet helpful advice on “managing his mental energy” ahead of the match.

 

Rishabh Pant has also been a star performer in overseas Tests for India, having previously been part of India A tours. Similar grit is evident in the performances of Hanuma Vihari, another player who has been groomed by Dravid on ‘A’ tours.

Work with NCA

Even during the pandemic, Dravid has found sustainable ways to continue the good work in his role with the NCA.

Just before COVID’s recent second wave, Dravid got the NCA cracking with a first-of-its-kind initiative – conducting two Fast Track Level-2 coaching courses for former international and First-Class cricketers, who have played more than 75 games, according to The Times of India.

 

Amongst those taking part were former India players Wasim Jaffer, Ramesh Powar, current national selector Debashish Mohanty, L Balaji, Hrishikesh Kanitkar, and several others. Had it not been for pandemic-inflicted reasons, Dravid had also planned to extend the course to female coaches, in order to help the women’s teams as well.

Fans have enjoyed Dravid’s presence as a coach in the Rajasthan Royals’ dugouts in the past; but his role with the national team could bring about even higher levels of enthusiasm amongst romantics of the game, especially the 90s kids. What do you think about these rumours? Let us know in the comments section.

Image: Twitter/cricketworldcup, Facebook/Rahul Dravid