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Rahul Dravid: Players’ physical, mental health most important

Fourteen years ago, in 2007, not many exchanges took place between India captain Rahul Dravid and ‘nervous’ debutant Rohit Sharma in Belfast during the only ODI against Ireland. However, there will be many conversations between them from now on as they once again share dressing room space with Dravid as the new head coach and Rohit as the T20 captain for Team India.

Fatigue and playing in a tough bio-secure bubble due to COVID-19 have been cited as the main reasons for Team India’s debacle in the recently-concluded T20 World Cup in the UAE where the tournament ‘hosts’ failed to make it to the knockouts.

While Dravid stressed the importance of workload management and well-being of the players, he also made it clear that he was not looking at separate teams for three different formats.

“I don’t think we’re at that point where we’re looking at separate teams [for separate formats]. Of course, there are certain individuals who only play particular formats and there are some who play all formats. Obviously, in times like this, we need to be in a conversation with the players. For me, the players’ physical and mental health is the most important thing. I will always be in conversation with them and I’d like to work with them to ensure that whenever they’re playing, we have them fully switched on and we need to recognise that these are challenging times for people, for players, and especially for those guys who are expected to play all formats. We might not be able to play every single player in every single game across formats, we need to accept that as reality. Herein lies the opportunity for the other guys to step up and use it to show what they have,” said Dravid in his first media interaction since taking over from Ravi Shastri.  

Dravid, who has successfully groomed India’s next generation cricketers through his U-19 and India ‘A’ coaching stints in the last few years, is not in a hurry to influence the Indian team. “My role initially will be to sit back and observe and step in when required,” he said before giving a glimpse of his coaching style: “You can’t coach in the same way everywhere. Anytime you coach, it is your responsibility to mould yourself in order to get the best out of your players. So, that’s my philosophy,” the Indian batting great said.

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