Rahul Dravid, India’s coach for the Sri Lanka tour, attended a press conference along with skipper Shikhar Dhawan before the team’s departure to the island for a white-ball series. Dravid spoke in detail about the objective of the tour, the future of the India A programme, what this series means for him and more.
There are players aiming for spots in the Indian team for the ICC T20 World Cup. How do you integrate that within the objective of winning the series?
There are lot of people in the squad who are pushing for places or looking to cement their places in the T20 World Cup. But the key goal for everyone in the squad is to try and win the series. That’s the primary objective. Hopefully people can get the opportunity to put in good performances in the course of winning the series, and knock doors of selectors.
On filling in spots for the T20 World Cup in coordination with the selectors/team management in England
These are only 3 games before the T20 World Cup. The selectors and management will have an idea by now about what they’re looking for. There’s the IPL before the WC. In that sense, there may be one or two places the management/selectors might want to fill. So give them a few more options. But can’t read too much into it as well. There might be a few odd spots to be filled.
We have a couple of selectors traveling with us, we’ll interact with them. Had a little bit of a contact with the management in England. Didn’t want to disturb them during the WTC final, so will touch base with them over the next couple of weeks and plan.
On the future of A Tours
It’s a difficult situation for every country. It’s a big challenge. Priority has been international cricket and IPL, so hopefully next few months we can put in a programme. We had one scheduled for England but unfortunately things got worse, and India is in the red list. It’s hard to put a date in these uncertain times. Only when things improve can these kind of conversations be had with other boards.
Coaching in India A/India Under-19 was about giving everyone opportunities. Is this tour different?
It’s slightly different. When you’re at the developmental level, the goal is different from this. we have a really good squad here, 20 players. Will be unrealistic to expect everyone to get an opportunity in this short series. We’ll come up with what we think is the best combination to win the series. And then see along the way, there are plenty of youngsters, even if they don’t play, it’s a great opportunity for them to learn from seniors like Shikhar. It’s very different worlds – Under19 and A team and this.
Two India teams in two countries – is this the new norm?
This is a unique situation, quarantines and stuff. It’s very hard to predict what’s going to happen even on a month on month basis. But at this point of time, when travel between countries is a challenge, at least in the short term, something like this might have to be followed. India probably had no option but to do this.
I’m not really sure if this is a long term solution. There are a lot of stakeholders, going to involve boards, sponsors, media rights… so much goes into all of this. But in the short term, this will ease the pressure. It’s getting difficult for the same set of players to go through all the restrictions that are there currently. In the long term, it will need a lot more discussion.
On the importance of this tour for Prithvi Shaw
For a lot more people other than Prithvi as well… someone like Devdutt Padikkal or Ruturaj Gaikwad, a lot of the younger boys will be extremely keen to do well. Whether they get called up for the T20 WC is for the selectors to take. But certainly a good performance against international oppositions will help. If you can do well at this level, the selectors will certainly take note. No tour is a life and death situation; it’s not like just because you do well against Sri Lanka, you’ll make it, or vice versa. But performing in the pressure of international cricket, the selectors will certainly take note.
His experience as a coach this tour
It’s a great blend of experienced players and fresh players. As a coach, it’s quite an exciting situation because you know if you create a good environment, everyone will learn a lot. We have to be together as a large group, there are opportunities to learn and grow. It’s a good chance for me as well, as a coach you’re always learning from every experience. You learn about yourself and about cricket. It’s another opportunity for me to learn and improve. I’m quite excited.