Dubai: It’s sometimes all right to be nervous or anxious about your own performance - these are the reassuring words of Rahul Dravid, ‘The Wall’ of Indian cricket, for the young and aspiring cricketers.
During his long coaching stint with India A and Under-19 India for almost five years, the batting legend had invested his time and energy in grooming some of the finest young talent in the country before he moved on to take up the Head of Cricket Operations’ role at the National Cricket Academy last year. It’s a job profile which he enjoys thoroughly - much as he is always ready with a word of advice for the willing learner.
Speaking to former Indian opener WV Raman, now the national women’s team coach, during a chat in Raman’s Youtube channel ‘Inside Out’, Dravid gave his own example about handling with anxiety in his career. ‘‘Sometimes, it’s good to be anxious about your own career, which means you care," he said. "During my initial years as a player, there was only the Ranji Trophy to do well and no avenues like the IPL - so what I was worried if I would be able to make it as an international cricketer. Then in 1998, I was dropped from the one-day team and had doubts about playing that format for I had always fashioned myself as a Test cricketer.
‘‘Then I realised that I could only control things that is in my control. Meditation helped me a lot in such situations - I practised it more like a life skill."
Look up the list of Indian stars in recent years - Hanuma Vihari, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer or the audacious bunch under Prithvi Shaw which won the Youth World Cup in 2018 under Dravid’s fold - and the sense of awe in their voice about him is hard to miss. ‘‘When you are in the developmental side of coaching, you often don’t have to worry about the immediate results and can look at the bigger picture. What I had tried to do was to rotate those squads and give the players as much opportunity as possible,’’ Dravid said.
It was not as if though Dravid had plunged straight into coaching after the quitting from international cricket in 2012. He was still very much a part of the IPL, following which there was a stint at the commentary box before he was handpicked to develop the junior talent by the late Jagmohan Dalmiya, then the BCCI president. ‘‘Towards the back-end of my career, I was fortunate to enjoy a captain-cum-player’s role with the IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals. It involved a bit of managerial kind of a role with me being part of their the auction etc and I felt I liked the coaching side of things,’’ Dravid said.
One of the known virtues of Dravid was his power of focus and concentration at the crease in building innings throughout his career. Replying to a query if it can be developed or it’s an inborn trait, Dravid observed: ‘‘It can certainly be developed over a period of time but one has to be careful about not overdoing it.It’s important to have this ability to switch off or switch on - something which I learnt by watching other cricketers in the dressing room during my county stint with Kent.
‘‘Since I was an intense person by nature, I tried hard to shake off worrying about my performance as it would otherwise drain me out. I had to learn to do it, especially when in international cricket - and that’s where I picked up reading. For me, books worked better for unwinding than movies or a chat with friends,’’ he added.