“Credit to our domestic system, NCA and a lot of other people who can make that possible for us,” he says
Rohit: ‘Role of seniors is important in times of transition’
On Ishan Kishan: “If a guy has the game and needs the space to express himself, it’s up to us to provide him that space”
Rahul Dravid first saw the Indian Test team transition as a player in 2008. It started with the retirement of Sourav Ganguly, followed by MS Dhoni taking over the captaincy from Anil Kumble. Then, Dravid himself retired along with VVS Laxman in 2012 to make way for Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, before Sachin Tendulkar’s fairytale exit a year later signalled the end of a golden era in Indian cricket.
A decade later, Dravid has a ringside view of another Indian team in transition, this time as a head coach and someone who has spent considerable time in the system, especially the age-group and pathway programmes.
Pujara, the man who replaced Dravid as India’s long-term No. 3 for a better part of the last decade, now finds himself out of the mix after 103 Tests. Shubman Gill, who flourished as an age-group cricketer under Dravid, has taken that spot, with Yashasvi Jaiswal having been blooded in to be the left-hand opener Rohit Sharma believes could serve Indian cricket for a long time to come.
Jaiswal marked his debut in Dominica last week with a mature 171 in India’s massive win to open the 2023-25 WTC cycle. That he batted the way he did – “willing to play an attacking game when required but also knuckle down and be defensive, work hard for his runs when needed” – doesn’t surprise Dravid one bit.
“It’s a tribute to the domestic system,” Dravid said on the eve of the second Test in Port-of-Spain beginning on Thursday. “It’s a tribute to the environment around the team that a lot of young players are able to come in and perform straightaway. A lot of credit should go to the domestic system for producing these kind of players, especially in the batting department, and also the relaxed environment the team here has been able to create to allow young players to come and express themselves.
“So it’s nice from our perspective as a coach to see young players come in, perform straightaway and do really well, whether it’s Yashasvi in the last game or the way Shubman has grown over the last six-eight months or seeing the way Ishan [Kishan] came in and kept in the last game on a difficult wicket, he did a really good job. So there’s been a lot of young players, we’ve seen even in one days and T20s, who’ve come through and done really well. So yeah, credit to our domestic system, NCA and a lot of other people who can make that possible for us.”
In lauding the youngsters, Dravid also struck a note of caution, hoping they will counter tougher challenges to mark the next level of learning and growth.
“I know people like Jaiswal and Gill will be faced with tougher challenges as they go on and play more cricket,” Dravid said. “Teams will get to know them better. Even in this Test, we’ll see the West Indies probably come up with tactics and strategies having seen Jaiswal in the last Test match, and they’ll respond to that.
“The challenge for Jaiswal is to respond to the tactics and strategies West Indies are going to come up with in this game. Because today, as a young player, once you get known, once you start performing well, teams start planning and preparing for you better so you need to respond to that as well. So, looking forward to that but really excited to see his talent, how well he performed. Just the way he adapted, was really pleased to see that he was willing to play an attacking game when required but also knuckle down and be defensive, and work hard for his runs when required. As a coach, nothing pleases you more than that.”
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo