The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Need to be realistic, says John Wright
- The big debate l Team India vice-captain Rahul Dravid’s continuation as wicketkeeper
Rahul Dravid
Wright and Sourav: Talking about the 'keeper'

Calcutta, June 7: Captain Sourav Ganguly has indicated that Rahul Dravid’s dual role is about to end but, in Team India coach John Wright’s opinion, a “realistic approach” needs to be taken.

“I respect and appreciate Sourav’s sentiments over Rahul doubling-up as ’keeper but, having said that, we’ve got to be realistic. That, indeed, has to be our approach when the best XI is thought of for next season’s ODIs,” Wright told The Telegraph this morning.

Speaking from Bangalore, where he is assisting India A coach Sandeep Patil in the preparatory camp for England, Wright added: “Rahul has done an excellent job and, frankly, if the team’s requirement is that he must again wear the big gloves, then we will talk to him.

“I do believe that Rahul’s dual role allowed other batsmen to play freely… They were, after all, always conscious that the arrangement gave us depth, that we had an extra batsman to fall back on…”

This arrangement, as the coach put it, helped India reach the World Cup 2003 final.

Wright, by the way, confirmed that neither he nor the vice-captain had spoken about the dual role bit to each other.

Late last month, it may be recalled, Sourav caused a flutter when he declared Dravid was “always a stop-gap option” and that the selectors were looking for a full-time (ODI) ’keeper.

Dravid did start off (in the West Indies, 13 months ago) as a “stop-gap option” but, all along, the idea was to give him enough experience before the February-March World Cup. As a ‘risk’, it was calculated.

Actually, Dravid did remarkably and there’s no evidence to suggest the dual role affected his batting. He kept in 38 (and played in 39) of the 40 matches from the first completed ODI in the West Indies (Barbados) till the World Cup final and, in that period, averaged a very handsome 47-plus.

Till then, his average (from 168 ODIs) was a shade over 37 only. The added responsibility, then, wasn’t at all a burden.

More to the point, Team India won 24 of those 38 matches and lost 11, recording a 68-plus success percentage — by no means ordinary.

Aware that planning for the October 23-November 18 tri-series at home must begin at the earliest, Wright signed off somewhat typically: “In an ideal situation, yes, we should be having a specialist ’keeper… Looking towards that, young Parthiv Patel must make the most of the A exposure (in England)… He has age on his side yet, for now…”

Well, for now, it’s difficult looking beyond Dravid. It’s difficult overlooking the balancing-factor inspired by his calm presence both behind and in front of the wickets.

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