It was 1996. Allan Donald is a superstar and is young Rahul Dravid is still finding its feet in international cricket. Donald terrorized India – as was the case with India touring South Africa in those days – when Dravid slap Donald six times in the head during an ODI at Kingsmead. Donald loses his head, says a few words to Dravid, and watches the next ball bounce over the touchline.
In short, that speaks for all of us about Dravid. Beneath the appearance of a polite Bengaluru boy, there is a street fighter who knows how to play the gentleman’s game the hard way.
But it’s not exactly the ‘I’m a tough guy’ image that he’s trying to sell the world – ‘Indiranagar ka gunda’ is just a brilliant caricature of himself. “Be aggressive when you need to, but don’t make it your USP.” It was always Dravid in his game days. And now that he is the coach of the Indian team, things may not be so different.
Test captain Virat kohli, with whom Dravid begins his new journey from Sunday, loves pigeons with a hint of violence. On the other hand, Dravid, by his own admission, liked the intensity of Rafael Nadal – a man who does not give in to the court, shows his emotions when asked, but never belittles the opposition. “I met Nadal and his uncle Toni Nadal and watched them practice… the intensity that Nadal brings to an hour and a half of practice is unbelievable,” Dravid once said in an interview. question, emphasizing the word ‘intensity’.
And if you’ve followed Nadal and Dravid, you know that they never hit the “I’m the best” drum – even when they’re the best at their craft. It is a change of mindset that Dravid will bring to the Indian team after seven years playing (in two phases) under Ravi Shastri when we got used to the concept of India being “the best in the world” without winning a single ICC event.
How will the team react to such a change in approach? It’s probably a million dollar question, but the little splinters we’ve seen show signs of not being bad.
A video posted by BCCI a few days ago shows a super-fit Dravid holding a baseball glove against a training pacemaker, with Virat Kohli above. We immediately knew Dravid, in his own quiet way, was going to be in many things, showing you firsthand how to do it. And leave it at that!
Dravid himself has sometimes said back that he is “not quite the life of a party” – another distinction from his predecessor Shastri. But having a jovial, caring man with a sense of humour will make Dravid a favorite target for a number of Indian players, who are slowly taking on a leadership role. In the images posted by the opener Mayank Agarwal From a barbecue on a farm in South Africa, we find Dravid basking in joy with his new friends.
Now, if we look back at Dravid’s captaincy days from 2005-07, we see a wild swing in the performance chart. While he never made his stance clear on the side of the fence he stood at Greg Chappell saga, he oversaw India’s worst World Cup ODI performance in this millennium. And even during his peak as captain – when India won the Test series in England in 21 years – he was deemed “a bit too conservative” when he decided didn’t push for a win in the Oval and walked away with a 2-0 win for India.
Is Dravid still such a man? One thing we do know for a fact is that Kohli and conservatism are the North Pole and the South Pole. It will be a fine balance and we will want to see how the two batting greats come to a common ground on controversial decisions. One thing we don’t want to see is a repeat of Anil Kumble’s story, when an all-time great left-hander as the coach of the Indian team was humiliated.
Overcome the fire and ice of Indian cricket!