"Everyone needs rest. Virat Kohli will get rest when he wants" - Rahul Dravid. © BCCI

“Everyone needs rest. Virat Kohli will get rest when he wants” – Rahul Dravid. © BCCI

Does Virat Kohli need to be given a rest?

The somewhat contentious question has taken up a lot of print space in recent times, and Rahul Dravid felt a needless controversy was being created.

“Rotations are needed. There are a lot of matches being played, so you need to rotate the players. I think the management is taking right decision. Everyone needs rest. Virat Kohli will get rest when he wants. I don’t know why there is so much of discussion and controversy,” he said while speaking at a felicitation programme for Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami on Tuesday (October 24)

Answering questions on some of the key issues in the game at the moment, Dravid gave his vote of confidence to the introduction of the nine-team Test championship and a 13-team One-Day International league, saying that the leagues would bring more context to all matches in the two formats.

“When I took over the U-19 coach, one of the things I felt was that people stay on and play too much of Under-19 cricket, which I think is very dangerous so we took a decision of not allowing anyone to play more than one World Cup.”

Earlier this month, the International Cricket Council had announced that the Test competition would start after the 2019 World Cup and the 50-over event will get underway sometime in 2020. The Test Championship will have nine teams play six series over two years – three at home and three away – with each side taking part in a minimum of two Tests and a maximum of five based on bilateral arrangements. All matches will be played over five days, eventually leading to a World Test League Championship final.

The ODI league, meanwhile, will be a direct qualification pathway towards the World Cups and will be contested by the 12 full-member nations plus the winners of the ongoing World Cricket League Championship.

“I think having the context to especially ODI cricket and series is really important and sometimes in tri-series and bilateral series it can get a bit difficult to generate that level of context,” said Dravid. “But if you are having that sort of context towards a particular end goal in mind then surely something good can come out of it. If it creates that level of interest and context in bilateral series it will be a good thing.”

 Since leaving the game in 2013, Rahul Dravid has been involved with the Indian ‘A’ and Under-19 teams. © Kamlesh Nagarkoti

Since leaving the game in 2013, Rahul Dravid has been involved with the Indian ‘A’ and Under-19 teams. © Kamlesh Nagarkoti

Dravid, 44, also felt that the restrictions on bat sizes might have an impact on the results even though he agreed that too few players used supersized bats for the change to be too severe. “A change in the size will have an impact and the results of the games will show the effect,” he said. “Though the change won’t be too drastic as only a few players use such bats. However, it is also about the nature of the pitch and the size of the boundary that matter.”

Since leaving the game in 2013, Dravid has been involved with the Indian ‘A’ and Under-19 teams, and has done a brilliant job with them. He, however, insisted that it was not because of his skills as a player that he was effective as coach.

“I have really enjoyed coaching since the past two years and it has been a great learning experience. However, just because I played cricket for a long time wasn’t enough to qualify as a good coach. Playing is one thing and managing people is actually a different ball game altogether, but that is the beauty of coaching,” he pointed out.

“One of my big focuses in trying to coach teams is that I don’t try to put an effort into coaching cricketers, but try to coach people as well. Since I have been through the journey of playing Under-19 cricket before, I do understand that they are under a lot of pressure and which is why I try to create a good team environment.”

“One of my big focuses in trying to coach teams is that I don’t try to put an effort into coaching cricketers, but try to coach people as well. Since I have been through the journey of playing Under-19 cricket before, I do understand that they are under a lot of pressure and which is why I try to create a good team environment. My aim is to create such an environment where they can get the best out of their ability.”

Not only have the teams achieved some excellent results under his stewardship, the likes of Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, and Kamlesh Nagarkoti have already begun to draw attention at the senior level.

But Dravid said that there should be a fine balance between age-group and first-class cricket. “When I took over the U-19 coach, one of the things I felt was that people stay on and play too much of Under-19 cricket, which I think is very dangerous so we took a decision of not allowing anyone to play more than one World Cup,” he said. “Which actually meant that five of the players of the last World Cup who were eligible for this World Cup in January are not playing. Guys like Washington Sundar, Zeeshan Ansari, Mahipal Lomror have all been picked in their respective Ranji Trophy teams. Even the state associations are looking ahead and not forcing them to keep playing in U-19. Their mindset and horizon are increasing.

“Age-group cricket has a purpose to solve but it’s limited. Then on they have to go and play men’s cricket. That’s what we decided with Prithvi (who was asked to play for Mumbai in the ongoing Ranji Trophy rather than representing India Under-19 in the Asia Cup, next month) as well.”