Dravid’s message for the colts, ‘Figure out yourself’

India will begin its U-19 World Cup outing against Australia on Sunday, and Dravid believes that playing in these conditions would give the young Indian cricketers a lifetime opportunity.

Rahul Dravid and Prithvi Shaw will be hoping that India fares well in the tournament.   -  Vivek Bendre

As the India U-19 cricketers get ready for the World Cup, which begins in New Zealand in the next few days, the team coach, Rahul Dravid, has a strong message for the colts—‘figure out yourself’.

And that’s how he has set the tone for the tournament. After finishing runner-up in the U-19 World Cup in 2016, India stands a chance of faring well this time too, and Dravid—one of India’s most successful cricketers—feels that the youngsters should adapt to the situation quickly. “I think the quicker you start learning about yourself and how you tick, and the quicker you start taking responsibility for the way you carry yourself as a professional cricketer both on and off the field, the better. If you want to be a successful cricketer you need to figure out yourself, both on and off the field,” Dravid has said during a conversation with the ICC website.

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Having been with the U-19 and India A sides for a few years now, Dravid knows what it takes to get the best out of the youngsters. “At this level it’s generally quite hard-fought, and the skill levels of most teams are pretty much even and equal. You want close games, but you want to win those games,” he said, adding: “But generally I find with Under 19 World Cups it gets competitive, it gets quite tight especially towards the back end of the tournament. From that point of view, there isn’t much disappointment left after losing in the final of the 2016 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup. I think just the experience of playing in Bangladesh is from our perspective more important than the actual winning and losing.”

India will begin its outing against Australia on Sunday, and Dravid believes that playing in these conditions would give the young Indian cricketers a lifetime opportunity. “From our perspective while it would be nice to win I think the more matches we play in these conditions, and outside of the subcontinent itself, is a rare opportunity for a lot of these kids. I think what we learn out of this tournament is invaluable whether we win or lose,” Dravid said.

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While there are talents like Prithvi Shaw, Dravid does not want to single out individuals. “We don’t like to focus too much on the individuals. We believe we’ve got a very good squad together and the opportunities for us to play well as a team are there,” he said, adding: “We’ve been playing some very good cricket of late, so rather than focusing on individuals and naming a few people, at this age we really believe that every one of these kids is talented and they’ve got the ability to go on and do well in this tournament, and not only in this tournament but also to go on and play professional cricket and do well there. Some of the guys are a little bit more experienced than others at this level because they mature and grow a bit quicker but it doesn’t mean that the others can’t catch up in a year or two.”

Aware that life would change for these cricketers after the World Cup gets over, Dravid believes that it is important to be in the process. “I think a lot of these kids at the Under 19 level, by the very nature of the fact that they are here, are probably a lot more talented and just have better skill sets than some of the other kids who they compete with. And then suddenly as they leave this level they compete with people who have better skill sets than them, more experience, and it’s just the adjustment of having to deal with that kind of thing is something we find is a big challenge,” Dravid said.

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“They go from being stars in their team and consistent performers at Under 19 level to men’s cricket where not all of them have that level of success straight away. Having to deal with that is one of the great challenges for a lot of these boys. It’s something we constantly talk to them about, that sometimes it does take them a few years from Under 19 level to actually get to know themselves better and understand their game and that’s fine, that’s just part of the process.”

Courtesy: International Cricket Council