Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sourav Ganguly, not Rahul Dravid, will be a better coach for India

On Wednesday, former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly expressed a strong desire to coach Team India. Ganguly asserted that he wants to give something back to the game by mentoring and grooming the youngsters for the rigours of international cricket.

A couple of months back, Rahul Dravid also said that he is open to coach Team India in the future if an opportunity crops up. This has generated a nation-wide debate that who between Ganguly and Dravid is the right candidate for the job. This is not the first time Ganguly has spoken about coaching India. In an interview with The Telegraph on his 40th birthday, Ganguly made his intentions very clear as he was quoted as saying, "I could be the coach, so I could take the abuse... Take the brickbats... Rahul can quietly sit at the back and be the nice boy that he is."

The statement is an apt reflection of attitude and characteristics of both cricketers, and evinces the way both played and approached the game. While Ganguly was an intrepid and vibrant leader who took the bull by its horns and didn't shy away from being aggressive on and off the field, Dravid was a supremely composed man who possessed unflinching concentration and impenetrable batting technique.
Being strong-headed, Ganguly never dithered to take tough decisions and back his instincts, while Dravid seemed to have taken the safer route, playing the Good Samaritan, and was reluctant to stir up the hornet's nest.

Ganguly instilled killer instinct, confidence and vigour among the youngsters and backed them to the hilt. Under his tutelage, players like Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh thrived and emerged as match-winners. He stood up for the players he believed in, and his pupils rewarded his faith by setting the cricketing landscape ablaze with their sparkling performances.

Indians were no longer perceived as stoic, diffident and home-track bullies. Ganguly transformed them into belligerent tigers with indomitable spirit who tore into the opposition in their den. His shirt-waving histrionics at Lord's after winning the NatWest Trophy in 2002 against England is regarded one of the most iconic sporting pictures in the history of India. Though wasn't highly shrewd in tactical nous, Ganguly, an outspoken person, made up for it by flair, flamboyance and fairness. No other Indian captain fought for his players the way Ganguly did. He enjoyed the undivided support from the team which always rallied behind him.

In comparison, Dravid was a notch above Ganguly as a batsman and he had a phlegmatic temperament. A pleasant personality, he commanded unanimous reverence and admiration from cricket fraternity but by his own admission he didn't enjoy the responsibility of being a captain for too long and it had started affecting him mentally. Thus he had no option but to give it up in a bid to concentrate more over his batting. He's a private and intense person who likes to ruminate over finer nuances of the batsmanship and game. But captaincy demanded reaching out to other players and be among the thick of gazillion activities, something he isn't cut out for. Pervasive media and constant pressure of being at the helm didn't help matters.
It is fair to say, after analyzing all aspects, that Ganguly is a better choice for coaching while Dravid is the best choice as a batting consultant. Coaching involves mentoring and motivating youngsters by establishing personal rapport, something which Ganguly does with flourish. Also, being an Indian coach involves taking scathing fulmination and brickbats in your stride and Ganguly is one person who did it admirably throughout his career. He was caned, castigated and ridiculed by the media and cricket experts ruthlessly several times but he stood his ground, remained unfazed and proved his detractors wrong every time. These attributes make him an obvious choice for coaching.

Dravid was endowed with a string of epithets like The Wall, Mr. Perfectionist etc., during his career for his impregnable defense, discipline and work ethics. He's a perfect role-model for youngsters who all look up to him. He's a batting virtuoso who proved his mettle across the globe, and his suggestions and guidance will be incredibly vital in shaping up the future of current crop of Indian batsmen.

Ganguly and Dravid have served Indian cricket with distinction as players and they make a formidable combination as coach and batting consultant respectively. Expect nothing short of brilliance when the best of both worlds meet to attain a common goal. Indian cricket will benefit immensely by this cracking confluence.

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