'South African tour is a huge challenge'

Published : Sep 29, 2001 00:00 IST


HIS strong point is his overseas record. His best knocks have come against good attacks, except for the failures on the last tour of Australia, which still rankles Rahul Dravid.

As part of the team management now, Dravid has a role cut out for him. He has to plan for himself and the team too, which keeps him busy even when he is not in the thick of action.

An intense cricketer, with a penchant for technical excellence, Dravid spoke to The Sportstar on the eve of the tour to South Africa.


Question: Your impressions on playing abroad...

Answer: It's always a challenge to play abroad. The conditions are different than what you encounter at home. It's not only about getting used to the pitches but things like culture of the place, travelling, staying in an environment very different to the one you are used to. But therein lies the great challenge, a great opportunity. It's exciting.

Do we make too much of playing abroad even though it is a fact that India has not consistently done well overseas?

Those facts are true. But then it is true not only for us but for most of the other teams. Most teams don't travel well and it's not easy to beat a team in its own backyard. Except for Australia and to some extent South Africa, none of the teams in world cricket are able to consistently win abroad. It's not a problem that is unique to India. We are aware of the fact, and we have to try and change.

As part of the team management, how would you assess India's recent tours of Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka?

I think both the tours had some positive moments for us. Winning in Bulawayo and Kandy were special. Winning two away-Test matches was something to be satisfied about, but then again losing two finals and losing the other Test matches were disappointing. In Sri Lanka we missed a few key players, but having said that I must say that we'll have to get used to some players missing out because of injuries. There's a lot of cricket being played these days and injuries will keep bothering you. So it becomes all the more important that we have a much larger pool of players to choose from.

Do you agree that India plays much below its potential abroad?

I think so definitely. Our record shows that we have not played as well as we can play.

Is this team still going through the transition period?

It is. But the injuries make it look like there are new players all the time. But I think there's the nucleus of a strong side here and the next one year is going to be crucial, because we have a lot of cricket coming up. So if we can get good results then the guys will get that confident and settled feeling.

What are the strong points of this side?

I think the strong points of this side are its youth and the willingness to work hard and improve. I definitely think that the work ethic and attitude of the guys have improved, even though we are still not fully there. The general fitness of the side has improved - it's measurable if you compare some of the physical test results of about a year back and now. You'll see that the guys have imporved, but like I said before we are still not able to compete with the top sides who have been on these programmes for years now. Also, I think the team spirit is good and the guys enjoy each other's success. I think people tend to think otherwise, but the guys do get along well and the atmosphere in the team is relaxed with an emphasis on trying to improve all the time and both John (Wright) and Sourav (Ganguly) must take credit for that.

What other positive aspects would you like to point out?

Batting obviously. India produces quite good batsmen because of the nature of its pitches. We tend to be one-dimensional players though, who struggle when playing in different conditions. But they look promising. There is a good crop of young fast bowlers around. And even spinners. I don't see the kind of depth in the spin department as it used to be, but I still feel that with people like Kumble and Harbhajan and some of the other younger guys it is not as bad as it looks. We have to work on getting stronger mentally and physically. We have the talent to definitely play better than what we are doing at the moment.

How would you describe aggression on the field and this trend of being positive. What according to you does mental toughness mean?

Mental toughness to me is playing to the best of one's abilities whatever be the condition and whatever be the situation. People show this strength in different ways. They express their emotion in different ways. There are a lot of guys who like to show their emotions and there are guys who don't. But that doesn't mean that people who don't show their emotions are not mentally tough. It's a question of performing your best in adverse situations.

How mentally strong are the Indians?

We can definitely get a lot tougher. It's also about doing the basics right day in and day out. Do the simple things right because sometimes we don't do even that. That's an area which needs improvement, an area we need to become stronger.

Would you like to say something about our grooming process?

I think it's important for us to revive the concept of 'A' tours. It's important to bridge the gap between domestic and international cricket and that's what 'A' tours provide. A country like New Zealand has been sending its 'A' team to play tournaments in India (Buchi Babu and Moin-ud-Dowla). They've obviously realised that playing in India is a problem for them so they are trying to come here as much as possible. I think it's very good. They have been sending players who would possibly figure in the next series between India and New Zealand. I think if India allows them to come and play here it's important we ensure that our boys go and play in New Zealand. Get some exposure to their conditions. It'll be a good idea if we talk to the New Zealand cricket authorities about a reciprocal kind of arrangement. I would look at it seriously. If we don't get anything in return we must not allow them to play here.

How would you assess your personal progress?

I have had my ups and downs. I have been quite successful. An average of over 50 in 48 Tests is not at all bad. I know I can do better. I admit I am not the perfect cricketer. There are a lot of areas I can get better at. I have tried hard in the last five years. Sometimes you live up to expectations and sometimes you don't. But as long as you know you have tried your best and tried to improve there's nothing much that can be asked of you.

How did you achieve such a wonderful record overseas?

I have been lucky that I have done well overseas, except on the last tour of Australia. Every tour is a new challenge. South Africa is going to be a huge challenge. After Australia, it is the best team in the world. The South Africans are very planned and methodical. The conditions are going to be different. It's going to be a tough series and I hope I'll live up to my own expectations.

How would you assess your batting as a senior member of the side?

It's always hard to judge oneself and I don't really enjoy doing it publically. I've had my good and bad moments but I think what's important is that I've always tried to improve and look for ways to be a better player both individually and team wise. A lot of times you set standards for yourself and are not able to achieve them, but as long as you are focussed, work hard and have a vision as to where you would like to reach you can't really complain. The good thing is that when you look back, the nice moments and the tough ones, they all seem worth it.

More stories from this issue

Sign in to unlock all user benefits
  • Get notified on top games and events
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign up / manage to our newsletters with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early bird access to discounts & offers to our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment