It takes time (to decide on the India team coaching job). Any decision has to be made based on whether I have the bandwidth to do (multiple) things—Rahul Dravid
It's time to change from the blue of the India Under 19 and A teams to the yellow of the Delhi Daredevils' team. Former India captain Rahul Dravid is well into his new role of mentor to the Delhi-based franchise of the Indian Premier league. But the air is thick with speculation on whether he would take up the job of Team India coach, post IPL season 9.
Team Director Ravi Shastri's contract with the BCCI ended with the ICC World Twenty20 championships. In a breakfast meeting with select media at the DD team hotel near Terminal 3, Dravid did not deny the job offer but said he was yet to take a decision on it.
“It takes time (to decide on the new responsibility),” Dravid said.
“There is no time that says ready or not. Anything that comes back to you needs to be weighed with lot of consideration, not only in terms of whether you feel you want to do it but also time that is involved in doing lot of these things—what does it entail and what does it require, can you devote time and energy, anything that you would want to do, you want to ensure you are completely 100% focused on it.
“Any decision has to be made based on whether I have the bandwidth to do all these things.”
Dravid is currently the coach of India A and U-19 team and had recently been with the colts in the ICC U-19 World Cup. India lost to West Indies in the finals of that game.
He had also been the captain, the coach and mentor to the Rajasthan Royals. After the Supreme Court-appointed Justice Lodha panel banned the franchise for two seasons last year, Dravid—along with his coaching colleagues Paddy Upton and Zubin Barucha—have now taken charge of Delhi, which has been struggling for the past few seasons.
As was the case in his playing days, Dravid's mantra here too is to focus harnessing skills ratehr than producing results.
“Hard to comment from outside as to why Delhi has had a couple of tough seasons. T20 taught you can do lot of things right yet things may not go your way. Forget results, focus on processes. Hopefully, over longer period results will take care of themselves.
“T20 is a lot about doing lot of things right, yet suddenly one person comes along in the last over and changes things like it happened the other night. In the India v Bangladesh (WT20) game, the visitors did everything right till the last three balls and still lost the game. One guy just took it away from them.”
Dravid, who has been a keen student right through his playing days and after, said coaching was a huge learning process for him.
“It's been a learning, educative process. We make mistakes all the time. For example, in the Under-19 World Cup final, we got beaten by a team that bowled 46 overs of fast bowling to us. A lot of my thinking and preparation (before the match) was around the fact that there will be spin.”
On his role as the new coach of Delhi, Dravid said the overriding principle was to understand what specific skills each one brings to the team and who fits in where. He said that given the exceptional quality of skill on display in the recently concluded WT20, he expected domestic players too to perform well in the IPL9.
Impressed by Virat Kohli, Joe Root and Kane Williamson, Dravid described them “as classical players with exceptional skills”.
On his mentoring role, he said, “The way I function with Paddy and Zubin in past, we are able to bring something to the table. No designated roles. We are in a process to ensure that everything works smoothly.
“A coach's job is to serve players. I am here to serve each player. A lot of guys will not be taking part of your campaign this year.”
Delhi Daredevils have a wide range of players, from the overnight WT20 final sensation, Carlos Brathwaite, to the second most expensive player in the auction, Pawan Negi.
Despite being in the World T20 squad, Negi—for all his price and reputation—has not been used by Mahendra Singh Dhoni for even a single match.
Dravid refused to disclose what he had told young Negi regarding how to cope with but said, “Ive had conversations with him, but wont go into the details. I never judge the quality of a player based on his price. I understand how auctions work. They are no reflection of who you are.”
This is bound to be a relief for not just Negi but all the players in the team who are trying to establish themselves under a new set up, while coping with the pressure of taking DD to an improved position in the new IPL season.