When Rahul Dravid was offered the job of the national cricket coach, he initially turned it down saying that he had “unfinished business” with the U-19 team. That’s commitment that we have now come to associate with his name. Dravid has a knack for finding people who need his help the most. Here is a list of some players (and a coach) who have publically admitted that Dravid turned their careers around.
1. Pravin Tambe
The man of the moment should probably be the first on the list because his place in the Rajasthan Royals squad in 2013 was almost singlehandedly secured by Rahul Dravid. Dravid saw potential in the then 41-year-old cricketer whose life story has now been turned into a movie. Not to take any credit away from Pravin, of course, but Dravid did not just fight for his induction but also told his story to millions with the iconic speech that has been included in Pravin’s biopic.
2. Younis Khan
Younis, an asset for the Pakistan cricket team, has also gone on record and said that he owes his progress to Dravid. The India great gave him a lot of valuable lessons about batting which consolidated his position as the number 3 batsman in his team. Talking about the same in an interview, Younis noted:
Dravid was a top-class professional and one of the greats of the modern era and I learnt from him.
Like Rahul, Younis was also appointed as the U-19 coach of Pakistan.
3. Kevin Pietersen
In 2010, when Kevin Pietersen was struggling with form, he asked Rahul Dravid for advice. Dravid, being the generous man that he is, wrote a 2-page e-mail for the English cricketer, telling him how he can improve his game against spin bowling. Here’s an excerpt from the mail.
One good practice is to bat against Swann and Monty without pads or with just knee pads (maybe not a day before a game!). When you have no pads it will force you, sometimes painfully, to get the bat forward of the pads and will force you to watch the ball.
Pietersen has expressed his gratitude to Dravid for his gesture on multiple occasions. This was the mail Dravid had sent. It’s like the transcript of a masterclass in batting.
4. John Wright
John was the coach of India from 2000 to 2005 and says that Dravid helped him a lot during his time in India. In an interview, he was quoted as saying:
I owe a lot to Rahul. He helped me a great deal during my tenure as coach of India (2000 to 2005). I worked with him at Kent as well as in India where he was the backbone of our batting, particularly overseas. We had a number of great players, but a lot of victories were built around his contributions.
5. Priyam Garg
The former captain of the Indian U-19 said that Rahul Dravid’s suggestions made his batting much better, especially in foreign countries like England and South Africa. Dravid was the coach of the U-19 team that won the World Cup in 2018. He held on to the position for a long time before becoming India A coach and subsequently the national coach.
When I went with him to England and South Africa, he shared his experience with me, which helped me a lot. He explained to me how to deal with the conditions, how to bat on those wickets, tackle the bowlers and deal with the various challenges. It really helped my batting a lot on those surfaces.
6. Cheteshwar Pujara
Pujara has often been compared to Dravid, so this one is hardly a surprise. In 2020, the batsman revealed how Dravid advised him that time off cricket is also important for a player’s form and mental well-being. When asked how he would describe Dravid, Pujara says he can’t do it in one line.
He helped me understand the importance of switching off from cricket. I had the same thought, more or less, but when I spoke to him, it gave me a lot of clarity about it and I was sure of what I needed to do.
7. KL Rahul
KL acted as India’s stand-in Test captain not very long ago, and that has been quite a comeback for the batsman who was struggling with poor form in 2018. He reflected on the time recently and revealed how big of a help Dravid was in getting him back on track.
8. Khaleel Ahmed
In 2018, Khaleel got his maiden call-up for the national team and the first cricketer he thanked was his U-19 coach Rahul Dravid. These were Khaleel’s words:
I cannot thank him enough. When I started off at the U-19 level, I would be nervous to start with and would often make silly mistakes in the process. But under his guidance, I gained confidence and I can confidently say that he has had a big role in my growth as a cricketer. The best part with Dravid sir is that he gives you that freedom to go out and express yourself. He would tell me that the best way to learn is in the middle and one should never shy away from trying new things. He has had a huge impact on how my career shaped up.
Dravid is a gift for cricket.