Rahul Dravid coached the India U-19 team to World Cup glory in 2018 (Reuters Photo) HIGHLIGHTS Rahul Dravid, who turns 46 on Friday, took over as U-19 and India A coach in 2015 He led India to U-19 World Cup glory in 2018 after failing in the final hurdle in 2016 Dravid has insisted that youngsters going on to represent India is more important than winning junior tournaments There was an appreciative as well as envious tone when former Australia captain Michael Clarke and England cricketer Nick Knight pointed out Rahul Dravid's contribution to India's bench strength during the final Test of the recently-concluded four-Test series between India and Australia.
"The right coaches, at the right places for the right players," quipped Knight during a post-match show on Sony Six. "It seems Rahul Dravid is having a huge impact on these youngsters at the moment," Clarke chipped in.
Rahul Dravid, who turns 46 on Friday, seems to be playing a crucial knock, this time in his second innings as a cricket coach.
While some of the powerhouses of world cricket, including Australia, are having a hard time to find potential superstars, India seemingly have a problem of plenty. There is an assembly line of young cricketers waiting in the wings and keeping the stars in the senior national team on their toes.
Thanks to the Board of Control of Cricket in India's (BCCI) strong domestic structure and Rahul Dravid's work with the junior teams, India have the luxury of replacing a faulty part of the machine with quality spare parts.
Wishing The Wall - Rahul Dravid a very Happy Birthday. His exploits in whites are well known but we thought we would relive one of his knocks in blue against Pakistan #HappyBirthdayRahulDravid pic.twitter.com/gJ1sgt6Ird
BCCI (@BCCI) January 11, 2019 Dravid was known to be a selfless and gritty cricketer, who relied on hard work to become the player he was during his celebrated career. Like always, Dravid's contribution to Indian cricket, this time as a coach, is proving to be paramount.
Dravid started work as coach of India A and India U-19 teams in 2015 and ever since has given direction to quite a lot of budding cricketers' aspirations.
Dravid's notion of success gives us a picture of the culture that has been cultivated in the junior teams, which have become a feeder for Virat Kohli's Team India.
"I am not trying to win the World Cup as a coach, but in developing these guys. Winning these Under-19 World Cups is not the be-all-and-end all. I will be happier if some of these guys represent India," Dravid had said before his first U-19 World Cup assignment as a coach in India in 2016.
Virat Kohli's senior team is reaping the rewards of Dravid's work with the U-19 teams over the last few years.
Take Mayank Agarwal's case for instance. The Bengaluru batsman, who scored truckloads of runs over the last few domestic seasons, has been working with Dravid on India A team's tours.
It is safe to say Agarwal has eased into international cricket like a duck takes to water. Against a top-quality Australian attack on his Test debut in Melbourne, Agarwal showed his class and managed to carry the confidence into his second Test in Sydney.
"Playing under Dravid is good. We speak a lot to him about the game. He is there to help us and guide us. His advice has been very helpful. He has taught me to focus my mental energy," Agarwal said after notching up his career-best Test score of 77 in Sydney last week.
One cannot discount Rahul Dravid's contribution to Prithvi Shaw making the progression from the junior to the senior level. The 19-year-old, who had spent most of his nascent international career with Dravid, set the stage on fire in his debut Test series against the West Indies last year, scoring 237 runs, including a century, from two matches at 118.50.
Shaw has often admitted that he got the confidence to back his abilities and express his game, regardless of the stage after working with Dravid. It was not surprising to see the young opener smashing the West Indies attack to all parts of the park in his debut Test series.
Called him before my debut: Hanuma Vihari
Hanuma Vihari , who was impressive in the four-Test series in Australia, had this say before his Test debut in England last year: "I called him [Dravid] the day before I made my debut and told him I was making my debut. He spoke to me for a couple of minutes and gave his inputs and I thought it eased my nerves a little bit because it's coming from a legend and you know that you belong here."
Let's not forget another U-19 World Cup star, Shubhman Gill. He says he is " deeply influenced by Dravid ". The youngster is on the selectors' radar and his chart-topping performances in the ongoing domestic season are only taking him closer tan a India call-up.
The world number one Test team is certainly heading in the right direction and if the assembly line is as resourceful as it is, the numero uno tag is not going away from the Asian giants, anytime soon.
Also Read | Did you know Rahul Dravid was a commerce graduate: 19 amazing facts about 'The Wall' of Indian cricket Also Read | When Sachin Tendulkar rode pillion on Ramakant Achrekar's scooter to play up to four games a day
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