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After a lot of fun comes crown - Exclusive: Rahul Dravid speaks on captain's role

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  • Published 27.10.05

Chandigarh, Oct. 27: For Rahul Dravid, time is at a premium. The Team India captain, though, spared half an hour for The Telegraph at the Taj this morning. During the course of the interview, he looked back and spoke of the present.


Q: You will soon be completing a decade of international cricket. Has this run satisfied you?

A: It has been a good 10 years. There have been successes and, equally, tough periods. All in all it has been a nice journey and great fun. I dreamt of playing one Test for India and have gone on to play 92. It’s not often that you get to do something you love for 10 years ? that, too, at the highest level. Let’s say I’ve had a lot of job satisfaction.

Q: Is the Team India captaincy the icing on the cake?

A: No, the icing has been in the form of Test victories ? in Calcutta (March 2001), Leeds (August 2002), Adelaide (December 2003), Multan (March 2004) and Rawalpindi (April 2004). As also making the last World Cup final. Playing with some of the greats has also been the icing... (Mohammed) Azharuddin, Sachin (Tendulkar), Sourav Ganguly, Anil (Kumble), Jawagal Srinath, Harbhajan (Singh) and, more recently, Virender Sehwag. Being part of the same dressing room has been special.

Q: Being an extremely private person, are you somewhat uncomfortable with the off-field demands of captaincy?

A: I realise that certain things come with the job. That I was vice-captain for so long has helped in that I know what my response to certain situations should be. Having said that, there are going to be occasions when for the sake of my cricket, I’ll have to switch off and have time for myself and teammates. That’s bound to make me a better cricketer and a better captain. (After a pause) The balance between time for myself and time to discharge responsibilities has to be got right.

Q: Is there one lesson learnt in the time you were captain, prior to the latest appointment, that’s going to be particularly handy now?

A: That you can’t control everything. I can’t control the way my batsmen bat or my bowlers bowl. You can give of your best, that’s it ? a captain can’t do more. Also, that the team comes first and the captain is only as good as his team.

Q. It’s widely believed that captaining Team India is the toughest job after the Prime Ministership.

A: (Laughs) Look, Azharuddin, Sachin and Sourav will be better placed to answer. Yes, it’s a tough job, but I haven’t been captain for too long to say anything more. Yet, fact remains that while it’s challenging, there are rewards as well.

Q: So, what drives you ? the rewards or the challenge?

A: Getting the best out of the guys and the team. Try and create a good process, try and ensure certain values and attitude are adhered to. Rather than being too caught up in the results, I intend judging the effort after the 12 ODIs (against Sri Lanka and South Africa). I accept one is largely judged by the results, but a lot of people are going to confirm that results aren’t everything.

Q: Were you able to meet Mark Taylor, your ideal captain, during the Super Test in Sydney?

A: Unfortunately, I couldn’t.

Q: After Tuesday’s ODI in Nagpur, you revealed that promoting Irfan Pathan was Sachin’s idea. That seemed to be a way of thanking him publicly...

A: It’s a team game and people in the team must get credit... I mean, I can’t be a winning captain without the team... The success will come from a team effort and I’m realistic enough to understand that. In any case, I believe credit should be given where deserved.

Q: Following the Sourav-Greg Chappell face-off have you (as captain) set out roundrules to ensure that even if there’s a difference of opinion, nothing comes out of the dressing room?

A; I have a good relationship with Greg... I know where he comes from and he knows where I come from... He’s straight and direct... (After a pause) Some of the things which recently became public, didn’t come from the team... The leaks were from outside, not within the dressing room, and it’s disappointing.

Q: Did the failure to consistently score big in Zimbabwe and the Super Series in Australia put you under pressure in the lead-up to Nagpur?

A: I wanted to do well and, yes, wasn’t happy that I hadn’t scored in some games. At the end of the day, I’m a batsman and my job is to get runs... That’s how I’m going to be judged... It’s nice that I scored an unbeaten 85.

Q: Was the impending birth of your son (Samit) a distraction during the three Super Series ODIs in Melbourne?

A: My wife and I had thought the planning was fine and that the baby would be born during the early part of this series... As it turned out, I was far away (in Sydney) and couldn’t wait to get back home. As for the Super Series, we (World XI) got beaten by the better team and I'm not making any excuse.

Q: Has fatherhood changed you?

A: (Laughs again) Have just been a father for over two weeks... Don’t know.

Q: Did you choose your son’s name or is it the result of a joint effort?

A: Like most things in a family, it’s a joint effort!

Q: To return to the Super Series, did everybody in the World XI give hundred per cent?

A: Everyone tried... It’s possible that some 20 per cent (of motivation) wasn’t there because we weren’t playing for our country... Had we been together for a month, we would have been pretty much unbeatable. It was all over by the time we got used to what was happening.

Q: Now that you aren’t a stop-gap captain, will you have the time to read books?

A: I love reading... That’s how I switch-off... Helps me come back emotionally charged and not become stale... A switch-off time is needed as the batteries have to be recharged... Physically, one does get to rest. In much the same way, the emotional and mental side also needs to be looked at... Books are to continue figuring in the time and space I have for myself. [Dravid is currently finding time for Bob LaMonte’s ‘Winning the NFL Way’.]

Q: Nowadays, there’s at least one rookie in about every series. What do you tell the newcomers?

A: That they must not worry if they’re nervous or overawed as I was probably even more overawed and more nervous when I first got picked for India (early 1996)... I tell them to enjoy the challenge... Today, the environment is tougher.

Q: How?

A: Because the scrutiny is that much more. The last few years have seen the emergence of so many TV networks and publications... Earlier, the pulls and pressures weren’t that much and I don’t know whether I would have been able to handle what the present-day cricketers face from the very beginning. I admire them.

Q: Is a good beginning to a series half the job done?

A: (Laughs yet again) One-twelfth of the job has been done...

Q: The final question: Given a chance, would you do something differently?

A: Definitely, because one keeps learning... If I actually had to start all over again, my approach to fitness would be different... It’s from the late 1990s that we got professional about training and gym work and... It’s not that, as a youngster, I didn't pay attention to fitness but no structure was in place. Today, when I go to the NCA (in Bangalore), it's nice to see youngsters train in a systematic manner. If we had the same facilities and knowhow, perhaps a difference could have been made.