Dravid takes attention away from ICC World T20
DURBAN – For the second day running, the ICC World Twenty20 moved to the penumbra with two other developments taking centrestage. Bangladesh beat the West Indies on Thursday and Sri Lanka made a whopping 260 in 20 overs against Kenya on Friday but the grand announcement of a Professional Cricket League and Rahul Dravid’s decision to quit as India captain overshadowed it all.
With rain washing out India’s maiden game at the ICC World Twenty20 against Scotland and threatening to dampen Friday’s big contest against Pakistan here, it was inevitable that people back home kept discussing these other developments rather than train their thoughts on the Twenty20 event.
Dravid has steered India through some difficult times, presiding over its fortunes – Test series wins in the West Indies and England being highlights. In the absence of a word from the man himself – he has switched his phone off – we will never know if indeed there was a greater provocation for his decision than the ostensible need to focus on his own batsmanship.
Dravid, more than anyone else, would have recognised that his batsmanship on the tour of England had not met his own standards. He scored just 126 runs in the three Tests, averaging 25.20 runs an innings, and 223 runs in the seven one-day internationals at an average of 37.16 runs per innings.
There has been a buzz that Chairman of Selectors Dilip Vengsarkar’s ‘criticism’ of some aspects of his leadership led him to quit but it may not be wise to heed that more so since BCCI President Sharad Pawar has indicated that Dravid had told him even in England that he was keen on stepping down.
Dravid will be remembered for making a gallant attempt to stamp his personality on the team after having taken over from someone like Sourav Ganguly, perceived as a players’ leader. The Bangalorean chose different methods to Ganguly, demanding performance from each of his players rather than backing them instinctively.
His thrust on performance was not the only reason why he reminded me of his very Australian approach to things cricket. In fact, he is the closest there is to an Australian in Indian cricket in that he believes there is a certain manner in which things have to be done. In letting the Board President be the first to know that he wanted to step down and focus on his batting, Dravid has followed a propriety that he expects to instill in Indian cricket.
So who will take over as captain?
The selectors have the option of recalling either Sachin Tendulkar or Sourav Ganguly to lead the team or of giving the reins to either Mahendra Singh Dhoni or Virender Sehwag. The last named may have been an automatic choice had he kept his place in the ODI team but long string of failures meant that the selectors chose to banish him to domestic cricket.
But what they do will make for another tale in the coming days. The selectors do not have too much time since the Australian team is due to land in India for a seven match one-day series before the end of this month.