Sunny and Jammy, an 'old' love affair

Sunil Gavaskar's 'affection' towards Rahul Dravid is nothing new. Over the last few years, Dravid, the quintessential professional that he is, has impressed Gavaskar with his methodical and hard-working approach.

Updated: March 13, 2014 18:02 IST
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Indian team's current players are known as 'Gen-Next' cricketers. By definition, 'Generation Next' professionals 'Work hard and party harder'. In recent months, the image of the Virat Kohlis, the Ravindra Jadejas and the Rohit Sharmas have taken a beating. Experts have questioned Team India's work ethics and the team and its support staff have been slammed for their lackadaisical attitude in the last three series in South Africa, New Zealand and Bangladesh (Asia Cup).

A clamour for change is being harped upon just days before Team India's departure for the biggest world event of 2014 - ICC World Twenty20. Many have argued that it is important to have faith in the captain and let him stay put at least till the 2015 World Cup but it is the work culture within the team that has disappointed legends like Sunil Gavaskar and Bishan Bedi. Work ethics reflect the level of conviction in a team. On tours, it's the job of the team management, usually comprising the coaches, captain and the manager, to keep the team mentally and physically healthy and battle-ready. This is where chief coach Duncan Fletcher and his staff have been found wanting of late.

Fletcher's contract with the BCCI is till March end. He took over after Gary Kirsten left post-World Cup win in 2011. Fletcher had the backing of Kirsten because the former Zimbabwean had a successful stint with England and had an impressive CV. But Fletcher has been relatively unsuccessful although India won the ICC Champions Trophy in UK last year. The daggers came out after India's shoddy performance on the tours of South Africa, New Zealand and Asia Cup in Bangladesh. Gavaskar has been the most vocal. The former opener, never short of logic, wants Rahul Dravid to replace Fletcher at the earliest.

What Dravid brings is a mantra of 'work hard and party later'. As captain-cum-coach of IPL team Rajasthan Royals, Dravid has seen the height of both gruelling cricket and entertainment. Except for a few black sheep, he managed a team of rookies rather well. Dravid, thus, was not only a hard-task master but one who led by example. Dravid continue to be Rajasthan's mentor and Gavaskar feels it's time to expand the 'Wall's' work profile.

Now the story of Gavaskar appreciating Dravid and his contribution to Indian cricket is nothing new. Gavaskar is clearly a Dravid 'fan'. When Mahendra Singh Dhoni overtook Sourav Ganguly's record 21 Test wins during Australia's tour of India, Gavaskar had said: "The debate about the best Test captain will always continue. (But) People do not speak about Rahul Dravid. Dravid's overseas record (as skipper) was outstanding. He has been the captain to win in West Indies after 30-odd years and similarly in England after 20-something years. But nobody talks about Rahul Dravid as a captain."

Under Dravid's captaincy, India played 25 Tests and won eight between 2004 and 2007. He led India to gritty wins in West Indies and England while his record as skipper Down Under is also commendable even if short -- a win from two Tests.

On Monday (March 10, 2014), Gavaskar told NDTV why Dravid will be a good option to replace 'under-performing' Fletcher. "I think the first name that comes to my mind is Rahul Dravid because he is enormously respected. He has been one of India's most successful skippers -- he doesn't get much credit for that because his was a shorter reign," he said. (Video)

Mr Dependable has been gracious and humble whenever been compared to the Test batting legend. "It's great to share something with the legend, though I don't compare myself with Mr Gavaskar. I think he is an absolute legend of the game. I grew up as a kid in a generation when Gavaskar and Gundappa Viswanath were big heroes for us and in all my games of backyard cricket, I would be either a Gavaskar or a Viswanath. So for me to equal something that he has done is truly fantastic," explained Dravid after equaling Gavaskar's feat of 34 Test centuries on the tour of England in 2011.

Not just work ethics, Dravid has a lot more things to offer from his vast experience of playing cricket for nearly two decades across the world. Known for his astute batting technique against all sorts of bowling, he presents a case as the best young coach that any cricketer can get. Apart from that, his skills in talent spotting have proved to have worked for Rajasthan Royals as we see the rise of Under-19 stars like Sanju Samson, all-rounders like James Faulkner and unheralded 'veteran's like Pravin Tambe.

Dravid, the world's most successful Test fielder with 210 catches, was perhaps Team India's Man Friday when Ganguly was captain. He never shied away from responsibility, sacrificing his comfort zone to suit the team's needs. Be it opening the batting in Tests or donning the keeping gloves in one-dayers. Dravid sets high standards as much as he demonstrated the qualities of a perfect team man. The current Indian side surely needs a few Dravids.

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