This is going to be a long post. With lots of stories and lots of links. And thats basically because it confounds me that people doubt the integrity of the guy. I can understand that they sometimes consider him baggage in the fast evolving version of the one day game. But a saboteur? Rahul Dravid ?
Excerpt from John Wright’s Indian Summers – About the Multan decision..
“Captaining the team in Ganguly’s absence. Dravid won the toss and we batted on a flat wicket. Jut after lunch on day two Virender Sehwag belted his sixth 6 (there were also 39 fours) to become the first Indian to score a triple century in test cricket. Unbelievably, within a few hours this feat had been overshadowed. Midway through the final session Dravid declared, as you do when you’re 675 for 5. What Indian captains don’t tend to do, however, is declare when Sachin Tendulkar is 194 not out. The matter became a full fledged sensation when Tendulkar told a press conference he was disappointed not to get his double century. He said he’d been taken by surprise by the timing of the declaration because he thought he had a few more overs to get to 200.
If I’d been captain, I would have declared a lot earlier. I’d advised Dravid to time it so that Pakistan had to face about 25 overs; at that point Tendulkar was about 170. Dravid wanted less time in the field, but got caught a bit betwixt and between. At tea he told the batsmen he wanted he wanted 15 or 16 overs at the Pakistanis, and after tea a couple of messages went out. As I sat there watching the innings grind on, it crossed my mind that Tendulkar needed to get a move on. A final message went out that they had one more over. Then Yuvraj was runout going for a quick single and Dravid called them in.
There was fault all round. I should have convinced Rahul to declare earlier and he should have grasped that its one thing to declare when a batsman’s 170 or 180, quite another when he’s 194. And Tendulkar should have pushed to get there quicker. The fact that we didn’t get a wicket that night added to the jangled nerves. As soon as I heard that Sachin has publicly expressed disappointment, I knew we had a hot potato on our hands. I talked to Rahul who agreed that he had to have a chat with Sachin before things got out of hand. That combination of steeliness and serenity. so evident in David’s batting, is the mark of the man; nothing fazes him. He’s a mature and intelligent individual; all the hype and fuss goes over his head because he can stand back and put the issue in perspective.
And of course it was a rich source of conspiracy theories. They came thick and fast; the timing was Ganguly’s idea because he was anti-Tendulkar; if Dravid couldn’t get a double hundred, he didn’t want Tendulkar to get one; Tendulkar had batted slowly on purpose to make life difficult for Dravid. Every hour, it seemed, there was another piece of sensational nonsense coming at us, because people prefer to believe these are the result of careful – and usually malicious – calculation rather than accidents caused by a combination of miscommunication, misjudgement and Murphy’s law.
After a sleepless night, I spoke to Sachin who confirmed that he’s wanted to the team to cut him some slack. Then he and Rahul talked it through and resolved the matter, and we focussed on winning he Test match. There were lessons in it for all of us, but in a way it was what Ian Chappell called it: “A declaration of Independence”.
And considering it would have been sachin’s second consecutive double century, it was an important event in India’s statistic centric development but equally importantly, it was, in my view a very big development in Rahul Dravid’s career as a cricketer and a captain.
Purely as a Test batsman, it had all changed in that Kolkata test. And then those blitz of centuries in West Indies and England and the 4 double centuries thereafter as the Test average screamed past Tendulkar’s and Lara’s.
It was as a one day player though that he’d always been considered “too good” to adjust. Whenever he scored, someone else scored many more. 145 in 129 in a 318 run partnership in a world cup game, and Ganguly got 183. 153 in a 331 run partnership agst NZ and Sachin got 186.
Rahul was always Best Man. Thanks For coming. You may now miss the bride.
Saurav Ganguly said to him, if you wanna play ODIs, you gotta do a bit extra. You gotta keep wickets. And you gotta go up and down the order. And so Rahul Dravid learnt to do that. He stayed out of the side for a bit. He’s a supremely fit guy – holds the record for never having missed a test for the longest time but missed a few ODI games cos he wasnt considered good enough. Learnt how to keep wickets so that he could keep his place. Not great but well enough to justify a 41 batting average (Also Brian Lara’s) . Basically, Rahul Dravid learnt that if you want to survive you have to adapt. and be flexible.
Right through he was the ultimate team man. He did what he was asked to do. If Sachin was on song, or VVS, or Saurav, then so be it, but if Adelaide required someone to step up he did.
As with all hard work one day, all was well. The runs were flowing. The one day spot was secure. As were the brands.
Then Greg Chappell came along. And its important to note that even Ganguly wanted him. A few months later somehow things went wrong there. Emails got leaked and it all got messy.
On the 14th of October, Rahul Dravid took over as captain of India. Since then we had a pretty impressive 17 run unbeaten streak where we chased down everything in sight. (admittedly two of those were under Ganguly).
The first big series was against a full strength Sri Lanka. We won a 7 match ODI series 6-1. And I’m linking each of the games and I’d like you to take a look at the scorecards cos they demonstrate the roles education play in leaders. And the role the flexibility that was forced upon Rahul played in his captaincy.
Game 1. Openers – Viru & Sachin. Pathan at 3. Rahul at 5 gets 85* off 63. We get 350 off 50 and win by 152. – Not bad.
Game 2. We chase 122. Open with Viru and Sachin and JP Yadav comes in at 3. We win by 8 wickets. Not bad either.
Game 3 Aah . Sri Lanka set us 299 to win. We open with Viru and Sachin. And Dhoni comes in at 3. Gets 183. We win with about 4 overs to spare. Not bad.
Game 4 262 to win. Viru and Sachin open. This time its Yuvraj at 3. We’re sure trying everything. Dravid comes in at 4. Gets 63 off 72. We win in 45.
Game 5 Remember, we’ve won the series. We rest Sachin. Gambhir comes in. Opens with Viru. Gets a 100. Dhoni comes in at 3. Yuvi at 4. Dravid comes in at 5 (at 69-3), gets us to 285 with a 103* in 120. But we lose. Uh oh.
Game 6 Sri Lanka set us 197. Dravid rests this game. Viru bats at 3. Sachin and Gambhir open. We win by 7 wickets. Ha !
Game 7 Sri Lanka set a decent 245 to win. We open with Viru and Sachin. Now Pathan at 3, Dhoni at 4 and we win in 39.3 overs.
Game, set and match. 6-1.
That was the first big series. Each of those game had either big changes or subtle nuances. And you’ll find that just as he did in Multan, each time that Rahul Dravid has cocked a tactical and timing snook at the opposition , we’ve invariably won. Unfortunately and for some inexplicable reason, he’s lost the knack of doing that for the past year or so in my view. I still think he’s a cricketer of enormous grit and more conviction than most that have ever played the sport but somewhere recently he’s lost the plot.
I’m hoping that this young brigade hand that he’s been dealt for Bangladesh helps him rediscover a bit of the magic of leadership without the fear of recrimination. I think he’s much better with a coach like John Wright who listens and understands than someone like Greg who doesnt say so but basically means “or-else” . I’m convinced that Rahul Dravid will be better off with Greg Chappell’s departure. Its high time he stopped using process and started using his gut.
Sometimes the most disciplined guys the are most instinctive.