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Javagal Srinath

I am a more relaxed person now: Dravid

January 28, 2004

"While the younger players can only blossom under the right circumstances, created by providing the right coaching, the roles played by the seniors in mentoring and fostering the youngsters also helps the boys to graduate. The youngsters maturing quickly to the same pedestal of the performing seniors indicates the rapid progress of the team," says Rahul Dravid in an exclusive interview to Javagal Srinath.


One cannot say that you personally didn't have the ingredients to succeed during the 2000 tour Down Under. It's not that you have had a long, lean patch in your career. Having had a great series now, what factors would you suspect let you down in the 2000 series in Australia?

During the 2000 series, I was too much aware of the fact that my true cricketing merits would be measured in Australia and it put me in a spot of pressure. Although I did reasonably well all around the world, I didn't really know what to except here in Australia then.

Rahul DravidThe experience gained from the last 35 Test matches between 2000 and 2003 has put my cricket in good light. I have come to understand my own personality better and know how to react to things at different situations. Back in my mind I am a more relaxed person now.

The dismissal in the first Test at Brisbane didn't perturb me at all. The atmosphere is very conducive in the team. The strategies to understand the opponents and upgrading our own game with the support of technology, the new belief in fitness regimen, the psychological help and many other factors have contributed to the team as well as to my success in this series.

Tell me something about your personal role in building the team and team spirit, like understanding the youngsters' dilemma in establishing themselves at this level of cricket and making sure they don't slip into the state of inertia.

Frankly, all the senior players strive hard to follow the prime values and objectives of the team. I, along with the coach and captain, try and create the right ambience for the guys. It is an environment where excellence is promoted and performance valued. The engine that works at the backdrop of the team is equally important; like the contribution of Andrew [Leipus], John [Wright], and Greg [Gregory King].

While the younger players can only blossom under the right circumstances, created by providing right coaching, the roles played by the seniors in mentoring and fostering the youngsters also helps the boys to graduate. The youngsters maturing quickly to the same pedestal of the performing seniors indicates the rapid progress of the team.

Only the performance on arduous tours like this can make one realise the sense of achievement and what it actually takes to maintain those standards. Some of our lads are just 18 or 19 and they handle the pressure amazingly well at this level.

You have been doing some strange things like closing your eyes every now and then while batting, and it looks as if you have gone into a trance. What exactly do you do? Do you think about your wife?

Ha ha ha! You people must have seen it on the television few times. Actually, if at any stage I feel my concentration is wavering and my thoughts are wandering, I just close my eyes to collect my thoughts, and focus my concentration on breathing and also keep my thinking in the present state. I dread to drift into what had happened during the previous deliveries or what's going to happen in the coming few balls.

You have no control on the balls you have already played or the one you would have to play. But you are in complete control on the one you are about to face. Few thoughts like how to celebrate my fifty or hundred, which is quite normal, comes to my mind and that's the time I rearrange my thoughts to live in the present and get on with the job at hand. One of the toughest things in sport is to be in the real time events all the time.

[VVS] Laxman and you strike it well...

Well, it's not only Laxman. I have had a few serious partnerships with Sachin [Tendulkar] and Sourav [Ganguly] as well. But with Laxman I have played some crucial innings that had direct bearings on the results of matches; and one of them turned out to be a historic win. Especially the Calcutta innings and the Adelaide one would stand tall in memory.

We both have played together from the junior level and, having continued playing till now, we understand each other well at the centre. During long partnerships we are quick to notice any lapses in each other's concentration and keep sending alert signals to one another. Lax is a great player and I respect him a lot. And I think he is really coming of age as a player now.

At the same time, family life, I strongly feel, is extremely crucial in the development of one's career, and contributes a great deal towards its relevance. Though the game is little glorified in our country, by the end of the day I have to come back to my family for the reality check. The part played by the family is the same, be it in winning or losing.

The environment created by my parents during my formative days, in terms of stress on the importance on education, sports and understanding of basic family values, has been instrumental in my little success. I wish all youngsters have a similar run in their childhood for a decent career in any walk of their chosen profession. The balance between education and sports, the involvement of parents in the kid's game and the attitude towards life as a whole are some of the significant and sensitive parametres in growing a child's sports career.

Having known you as a cricketer all the while, I completely endorse and agree with the values that you uphold for the game of cricket. Though I sincerely share your sentiments after the unfortunate ball-tampering issue, and understand the agony you went through for no fault of yours, I request you to share your views on the incident.

I cannot make any comment on that particular incident as we are bound by the laws of the ICC [International Cricket Council]. I have expressed my views to the match referee, Clive Lloyd.

I know that you admire people who are good writers, commentators and pundits of the game. At the same time, you are subtly repellent to unreasonable ones. To say that, for the Indian players, endorsements take priority over the cricket when things don't go well for India has become a cliché. Those comments come from players who have played the game enough.

I can understand a layman making such comments, as emotions run high when we don't play too well. At the same time, we receive tremendous adulation when we win. This sort of behaviour is understandable in a cricket-loving nation like us. However, it's important that the people in our own cricketing fraternity understand this and be careful with their comments and views, as those can create a tough situation for the players and their families.

Previous column: Dravid was utterly despondent

(Chivach media)

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