India in the last few years has been phenomenal in every format of the game. They have made it to the semi-finals of the 50 overs and 20 overs ICC world cup. They have succeeded in limited-overs as well as in tests. Their biggest success has come in form of winning tests on foreign soil. At home, they have been nearly untouchables.
The team philosophy has undergone change and today wherever India goes, they pose a significant challenge to the opposition. This has been possible due to the contributions of all stakeholders.
In particular, a lot of the credit for India’s upwards trajectory is due to the efforts of the chief coach, Ravi Shastri. He has delivered on a lot of counts. The upcoming ICC T20 world cup would possibly be his last assignment. His contract comes to an end and he has pointed towards now renewing it.
The BCCI officially announced that he will be replaced by the legendary Rahul Dravid. That man has single-handedly changed the way coaching was undertaken in the junior levels. He has delivered unparalleled results with the India-A and U-19 teams. Credit should go to him in large part to provide India with this type of enviable bench strength. There is very little doubt that his stint as India’s head coach will usher in tremendous success.
However, operating at our cynical best, today we look at 5 reasons as to why his stint as the head coach could get derailed.
1. Outside his comfort zone
Very few people understand this but the job of an Indian international men’s team coach is not to train them and upskill them. These cricketers are already the best this country has to offer. They do not need much advice on cricketing intricacies. What they need is assistance with focusing on a goal. These players today have so much adulation and following that their egos become difficult to manage. There is already conjecture around Ashwin-Kohli and Sharma-Kohli. This vitiates the team environment and it is the foremost job of the coach to help the team come together and focus on the job. Dravid who has coached at the junior level may find this task difficult to do especially considering how soft-natured Dravid is as an individual.
2. Mismatched playing styles
The cricketers over the past few years have played an unabashed style of cricket. The coaching-style was simple, i.e., just go out there and play your natural game. Therefore, players like Pant, Kishan, and Suryakumar Yadav have been given licenses to go big from ball one. Dravid’s playing style was radically different from this. He prioritized match situations over freedom to play one’s own game. This could be an issue for the team which is so used to now playing with “intent” and “natural game”. Without going into the merits of the two styles, India’s present style has won them matches and resulted in heartbreaking losses as well. It would be interesting to see if the team can integrate with Dravid’s style of playing.
3. Burden of historical performances
India has traveled to Australia and England twice. They won two historical series in Australia in 2018 and 2020. With England, they narrowly lost the 2018 series which the scorecard would not reflect but came back roaring in 2021. This series’ could be rated as India’s finest. With so much already achieved, Dravid may buckle under pressure to match these performances.
4. Expectations of fans
Dravid has taken the position of India’s coach at a rather unusual time. India has to play two world cups in the next two years. There is the T20 world cup in Australia followed by the massive ODI world cup to be hosted in India. The last time there was a world cup in India, India had won it. Therefore, Dravid will have extraordinary pressure to prepare and train a team over the next two years which would be able to achieve white ball glory. This immense pressure could be counter-productive and he may flounder.
5. No past experience
There is no doubt that Dravid is a fantastic coach. He has won the U-19 world cup in 2018. However, he has never coached a team at this level. He was the coach of a team that went for an inconsequential tour to Sri Lanka. Therefore, this assignment could be overwhelming for him and it is only to be seen how he copes with this challenge.