Former India captain Rahul Dravid has been appointed as the India ‘A’ and Under-19 coach, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur announced on Saturday. The announcement came shortly after the board had set up a high-profile cricket advisory committee comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman. India ‘A’ will host Australia ‘A’ and South Africa ‘A’ for two four-day games each, followed by a tri-series involving the three teams in July-August. That will be Dravid’s first assignment.
Dravid’s omission from the cricket advisory committee had raised many an eyebrow. According to a cricket board functionary, the batting maestro had been approached but he declined the offer, “citing personal commitments”. In fact, he reportedly wanted a more hands-on role, something that would allow him to work with youngsters and shape the future of Indian cricket. BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya said they had a role in mind for Dravid as the list was “not complete” without him. It is learnt that the BCCI top brass even thought about offering him the position of head coach. But Dravid was reluctant, for it would have required continuous travel with the team. Also, someone who has always been so meticulous about preparation and process, Dravid wanted to rise through the ranks. Working with India ‘A’ and Under-19 teams suits him perfectly. He has already made a big impact in nurturing young talents in his role as Rajasthan Royals’ mentor.
“The good news is, Mr Rahul Dravid has agreed to coach India ‘A’ and Under-19 teams. Next year, we will be playing the Under-19 World Cup (in Bangladesh). Also, the India ‘A’ teams will be touring various countries in the coming months. One of the recommendations made by the legends (in the cricket advisory committee) is to increase the number of the ‘A’ team tours overseas so that we can give more and more exposures to our India ‘A’ players to play competitive cricket. Another recommendation made by them is to create good bench strength so that the players who are playing for India ‘A’ can immediately fit into the senior team if a replacement is required. So both India ‘A’ and Under-19 teams become very important. In fact, our focus will be on India ‘A’ team tours overseas,” Thakur said after the advisory committee had their first meeting here today.
NCA to get a makeover
The cricket advisory committee also put forward several suggestions during today’s meeting to improve India’s performance on the road which the secretary described as “not up to the mark” over the past few years. To start with, they advised that the National Cricket Academy should be converted into a centre of excellence.
“To turn the NCA into a centre of excellence, we will be hiring a number of coaches, physios and trainers. We would like to have a pyramid-like structure, where from top to bottom, similar kind of facility is available. And the three cricketers agreed that if needed they will spend some time with the players to help Indian cricket. All state associations have been asked to set up their own academies, preferably residential.
“We’ve also decided to revive the ‘talent research development’ (TRD) programme as per the advisory committee’s recommendation. This is to tap into the talent that we’ve in the various parts of our country. Former first-class/international cricketers will be appointed as TRDOs. The next advisory committee meeting will be held after we short-list the coaches, physios and trainers for the NCA. We want the NCA to play the most important role and whatever the advisory committee recommends, that should be implemented by the coaching staff (at the NCA),” he added.
The advisory committee has recommended to pick a pool of 15 fast bowlers and 15 spinners with coaches (likely at NCA) being given specific roles to look after them. The pools will have players from the U-19 and ‘A’ teams as also from the senior team. The BCCI wants to groom them over a four-year period.
No clarity on the new coach
Meanwhile, Thakur said the BCCI is not in a hurry to appoint a new coach for the Indian cricket team.
“Ravi Shastri is going to Bangladesh as the team director. Once we short-list the name of the coaches, physios and trainers, they (advisory committee) will again be involved, as we take their advice on who could be the best coach to be entrusted upon the job. We are not in a hurry to announce any name as we like to plan for the betterment of Indian cricket,” he said.
Thakur said the advisory committee will be “willing to help Indian cricket whenever their service is required”. “At the same time, they don’t want to interfere or intervene into specific areas (dressing-room matters).”
The committee members, however, will provide technical inputs and if required, will accompany the team in overseas tours. No one is going for the one-off Test and three ODIs in Bangladesh though. National selectors Vikram Rathour and Roger Binny (for ODIs) will be travelling with the team.
Thakur congratulated S Ravi for being inducted into the ICC’s elite panel umpires. “It’s a great day for Indian cricket. The BCCI has been working constantly in the field of umpiring. Out of 26 match officials in this IPL, 17 were from India.” He, however, clarified that the cricket board’s stand on the DRS remains “unchanged”.
KL Rahul ruled out
In another development, KL Rahul has been ruled out of India’s tour of Bangladesh as he’s suffering from dengue. The young Karnataka opener, who scored a century in his second Test in Sydney earlier this year, came to Kolkata with the Indian team last night. Rahul, however, didn’t appear for the fitness test at Eden Gardens on Saturday.
“The bad news is that KL Rahul hasn’t recovered from his illness and is not touring to Bangladesh. He has dengue,” BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur said. No one has been included as a replacement. The team will hold a full practice session tomorrow before leaving for Bangladesh on Monday.