India bowling a big letdown - Dravid
In the wake of India's 2-0 series defeat in Australia and their slide to No. 7 in the Test rankings, Rahul Dravid has urged a long-term approach to improving their overseas performances.
"I'm not a big one for rankings," Dravid told ESPNcricinfo. "Whether we're seventh or fifth, for me that doesn't really make a huge difference. We are not going to be playing overseas for a long time, so our rankings will definitely improve.
"We will perform well in India. We've got the batting line-up now, we've got some very good spinners who can bowl well in these conditions, so if we were having this conversation in 24 months and we haven't played a lot overseas, then I might be talking about 'oh, great, we're up there in numbers one and two'.
"So that's not the point. The point for me is, how well we do when we go overseas from now, and what are the steps that we're taking to address some of the issues that have become pretty evident over the last 12-14 months."
India, Dravid said, were close to building a batting line-up that would be competitive in all conditions, but they would need a big improvement in the bowling to be able to win abroad consistently.
"The bowling has been a big let-down, and I think if you are not consistently bowling well, if you don't have world-class bowlers in both pace and spin, then you're going to slide down the rankings because you're not going to produce results."
The current crop of bowlers have failed on several overseas tours, but Dravid hinted that they may still be the best options India have at the moment, with no standout performers in domestic cricket.
"It's a tough one. I follow Ranji Trophy cricket and cricket in India, and there's not a lot of talent. The cupboard, unfortunately in the bowling department, is not as well stocked as we would like it to be.
"Hopefully it can change and things like this can change in six months, eight months, sometimes you can find a young, exciting fast bowler somewhere or a super spinner somewhere, that happens. But the reality is that we were all excited, before the Australia tour. We had got 2-3 guys, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, all bowling 140-plus; there's always Ishant Sharma; Bhuvi [Bhuvneshwar Kumar] has come along a long way.
"So I'm not saying that these guys are finished. There are clearly lessons that they need to learn, areas that they need to work on. You could have the same set of bowlers, but if they improve and get better, I think that's the ideal situation, because when I look around the place, I don't necessarily see many bowlers shouting out or banging the door open at the moment to say, look, pick me, I will do the job for you in Test cricket."
Virat Kohli, Dravid said, was the ideal captain for India to plan their Test future around.
"I think it's early days for Virat. But he's shown that he can lead. One of the biggest pluses for me was his own performance in this series. The worst thing would have been, for someone like Virat, who was the obvious successor to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, to have not performed and not been sure of his own place, which was one of the concerns after the tour of England.
"But that's not the case, now we know that Virat's a shoo-in candidate for the captaincy, he's someone whom Indian cricket can plan long-term with, and that's what they should do. Results will take care of themselves, with the right plans you're making, right noises you're making to go out and find bowlers and plan long-term, and sit down and think about how are we playing these tours, are we preparing well enough, are we going there well in advance, playing the practice games, what are the kind of skills required.
"These are the kind of things that need to be done behind the scenes. If Virat can do that process, he'll find that the results will follow, because in a country like India, with the number of people playing, talent's got to be there. It's just a question of finding it."