With multiple reports suggesting Ravi Shastri is considering quitting as Team India’s coach after the upcoming T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), speculation is rife about his possible successor in the team. As soon as news of Shastri’s impending exit from the country’s national side broke, people started debating how ex-India captain and legendary batsman Rahul Dravid may be a good choice as Team India’s coach.
The legion of Indian cricket supporters not only began imagining how the side would break its drought in the International Cricket Council (ICC) competitions under Dravid, but how the overall culture of the team would change once he joined Virat Kohli’s team as head coach. In the last five years, since Dravid began his coaching career with India’s junior teams before joining the Bengaluru-based National Cricket Academy (NCA) as director of operations, his contribution has been immense.
He led the India U-19 team to glory during the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup in 2018, and Dravid has been the key figure in the emergence of several young Team India players. Cricketers like Prithvi Shaw, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Rishabh Pant, Shubhman Gill, Mohammad Siraj, Washington Sundar, and Mayank Agarwal, made it to the national side under Dravid’s mentorship.
From 2015 to 2019, Dravid was India A coach and it is then when he groomed these players for the harsh rigors of international cricket. He left the U-19 and India A sides in 2019 and joined the famed NCA as its chief. Tasked with grooming the next generation of Indian cricket, Dravid brought in a lot of changes in the functioning of the national academy.
Before his tenure at the NCA came to an end in July, Dravid’s academic approach to nurturing the youngsters earned him immense praise from various quarters of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). While the NCA is known for having all the high-end technology and facilities related to cricket at its campus, the young players at the academy were monitored with the help of weekly reports about their performances.
This was Dravid’s way to ensure the players always remained motivated to perform. Moreover, Dravid also ensured that Team India regulars, who got injured would undergo their fitness tests at the NCA under his supervision. For instance, players like Jasprit Bumrah, Shreyas Iyer, and Ishant Sharma have all trained at the academy after recuperating from an injury before being reselected for the national team.
Last month, Dravid was appointed as the coach of the national ODI and T20 team. He accompanied the Indian team on their tour to Sri Lanka, where the Shikhar Dhawan-led team defeated the home team in the ODI series, but lost the T20 series. At that time as well, there was a lot of chatter on Twitter regarding Dravid’s appointment as India’s national coach in the not-so-distant future. With Shastri showing his willingness to step down from his role, the possibility of Dravid helming Virat and his boys has become even stronger now.
Ravi Shastri’s tenure as head coach will officially end with the conclusion of the T20 World Cup in November. He will also be 60 early next year, hitting BCCI’s age limit for national coaches and that’s why BCCI, especially its chief Sourav Ganguly, who played with Dravid for many years, is keen to elevate Dravid as the coach of the men’s team.
However, Dravid has been reluctant to take the helm of Team India on many occasions in the past and whether he will take up the challenge is anybody’s guess. Former cricketer Sanjiv Sharma, who represented India in both Test and ODI cricket, said that Dravid would be an “ideal coach for the team”, before lauding Shastri’s contribution as India’s coach.