Rahul Dravid & Ravi Shastri: Two coaches, two different tales
Having played a significant role in India’s rise on the world stage, Dravid has a bigger weight when it comes to mentoring and building a team.
Published - Feb 7, 2018 1:45 pm | Updated - Feb 7, 2018 1:45 pm
Comparing a national team coach with a junior team coach is not fair by any means but sometimes, the extreme differences in approaches make the comparison inevitable. So is the case with Ravi Shastri, the head coach of India’s national cricket team and Rahul Dravid, the country’s under-19 cricket team which recently won the World Cup in New Zealand.
Dravid’s choice of remaining behind the veils after the colts lifted an unprecedented fourth trophy was particularly attractive. The man, who gave the team the credit for winning the title, was also not happy with him getting a greater share of the cash prize (Rs 50 lakh as against Rs 30 lakh each for the players and Rs 20 lakh each for the support staff).
And his humility in wishing players from even the opponent camp was reciprocated with respect. In November last year, Dravid earned respect for going to the Nepalese team after it beat defending champions India in the U19 Asia Cup in Malaysia.
Dravid’s insights versus Shastri’s reactions
Dravid’s greatness lies not just in his gesture and statesmanship. His insights on how India’s young cricketers are being bred for the future have been remarkably on the spot. He has told the U19 youngsters that their real test begins after winning the World Cup and that it is not easy to make the senior team.
To compare things with Shastri, the latter is a man of positive thinking no doubt, but one also feels he is too worried about external factors. The man is often found making remarks that mock previous teams on the eve of a foreign tour – something which is unnecessary and reflects poorly only on him.
The current captain-coach duo of Virat Kohli and Shastri was criticised after India lost their first two Tests versus South Africa, also losing the series in the process. But as soon as India won the third Test in Johannesburg and the first One-Day International in Durban, Shastri thundered back, asking where the experts were. Here is where the difference lies – in the temperament.
Shastri was an ordinary cricketer who played with guts
Shastri was an ordinary cricketer in his playing days who had made his gritty temperament an additional weapon to succeed at the international stage. The injury-prone man had played his final international games at the age of 30 with a Test average of 35.79 and ODI average of 29.04 and 151 Test and 129 ODI wickets, respectively.
However, Shastri had never lost his killer instinct and his “tracer bullet” and “meaty shot” commentary in the box showed it. Today, as the coach of India’s senior team as well, he is equally forthright, waiting to blow away the opponent just like that.
Dravid is more of a cricket philosopher
But cricket today is more than a ruthless boxing bout where a punch settles it all. While Dravid’s statesman-like approach to the game establishes him more as a cricket philosopher and not just another coach, Shastri’s style looks monotonous and even repulsive at times.
Instead of throwing reckless remarks at past teams ahead of foreign tours, the coach can spend more time thinking about the current team and its performance. But he believes in a war of words more and the risk lies in the fact that when you lose the actual war, those words fall flat and don’t make a difference.
It’s good to be opinionated which Shastri is but Dravid’s observations on the state of young cricketers has more value than hot statements to flag off a psychological warfare ahead of a series or match. Dravid chooses to make remarks after the results come out while Shastri tries to predict a future suiting his team’s cause. Undoubtedly, the latter’s style has more risk attached to it than not.
Dravid’s cricketing feats clearly say that he is a giant compared to Shastri. He has played the game four years more than the latter and has scored 24,000-plus runs in Tests and ODIs together, compared to Shastri’s tally of fewer than 7,000 runs combined in those formats. Dravid also belongs to an era when cricket is more diversified and man management is indeed the fourth required skill – after batting, bowling and fielding.
Dravid is more suited for modern cricket
Having played a significant role in India’s rise on the world stage, Dravid has a bigger weight when it comes to mentoring and building a team. Shastri, in comparison, belongs to a forgotten era and his jingoism and one-upmanship do not really make him a complete coach. So far, it has been Virat Kohli’s form and consecutive home series that have done the trick for Shastri’s track record as the coach.
We might not want to see Dravid as India coach as of yet. Last July, we had seen the BCCI deciding on appointing him as the overseas Test batting consultant but later took a U-turn. Dravid might not make a perfect combination with Kohli even though on paper, the two men should make so because of their opposite natures.
But observing Shastri’s interest in making his voice heard more in that position, sometimes even by disrespecting others, one can’t help but imagine Dravid as a more suitable candidate for the top post. His approach and tenacity speak for him.