Australia news August 25, 2011

I told Dravid not to retire - Ponting

ESPNcricinfo staff

Ricky Ponting has said that he encouraged Rahul Dravid to fight through his struggles and continue playing when their sides met in the two-Test series in India last October. Dravid was going through a lean patch at the time - his only century in 2010 up till then had been against Bangladesh and he managed just one half-century during the series against Australia - but Ponting said he urged Dravid to ignore critics who wrote him off.

"I remember after our last series in India there was a lot of talk and speculation about Dravid being finished," Ponting told ESPNcricinfo. "I actually went and found him at the end of the series and said 'don't you even think about retiring' because I just saw some stuff in a few of his innings that suggested he was still a very, very good player. I just said 'don't let them wear you down, don't let them get you down'. I received a similar text message before and after the Ashes from him as well."

After that home series against Australia, Dravid scored two centuries against New Zealand before a string of low scores in South Africa. Since then, he has been prolific in tough conditions, with four centuries in seven Tests spread across West Indies and England. In the second of those tours, where England humbled India to claim the No. 1 Test ranking, Dravid was easily India's best batsman, with three centuries and 461 runs over the four Tests.

Ponting, 36, has not scored a Test century since January 2010, said it was nice to see the 38-year-old Dravid doing well. He believed players like Dravid were as much an inspiration for senior players like himself, as for youngsters.

"There are a few [who provide an inspiration for batsmen of advancing years]. Sachin [Tendulkar] and [Jacques] Kallis both had a great last year; Dravid is doing well now. It's not only good for guys of my age to see guys doing that, it's good for the younger blokes to see it as well; to know that if you keep doing the right things and working hard, and if you've got talent, then age is not a barrier in our game."

While young players have role models to look up to, Ponting said he worried that an excess of Twenty20 cricket played at youth level would hinder the development of Test batsmen.

"The big worry I've had about Twenty20 cricket and even other shorter forms of the game being played at really developmental times in kids' careers is that it won't teach them the art of concentration. Cricket for me when I was growing up meant batting until someone got me out, and if that took them a week then that's how long it took them.

"Now, even Under-17s and Under-19s are playing T20 games in national championships, and at the detriment of two-day games. Good state players these days are averaging 35; if you were averaging 35 when I was playing your dad would go and buy you a basketball or a footy and tell you to play that. So there are areas of concern there; I don't know how you change them."

Ponting is one of the few senior members left in what is a transitional Australia team that goes up against Sri Lanka in a three-Test series. He said India, who lost their No. 1 Test ranking in England, could also enter a similar phase once their experienced batsmen retired, but believed their barren bowling reserves were a bigger cause for concern.

"India still haven't reached that point that I thought they'd get to yet. They've still got that crux, those great batters in that side. Time will tell with India now. Dravid was probably one who was in the gun before the rest of them and he's found a way to come through. They [Tendulkar, Dravid and VVS Laxman] are all about the same age and they won't go on forever. They will be tested more than anything with their bowlers. I think we found even in the last few years that a lot of their spin bowling probably isn't as strong as it used to be, and if you take Zaheer [Khan] out of their fast bowling stocks there's not much left there either; so they've got an interesting couple of years ahead."

India's whitewash in England has led to criticism that there is too much emphasis on the shorter formats of the game in the country, and Ponting, who has not played in the IPL since the end of its first season, said the tournament was affecting India's cricket.

"They're probably prioritising Twenty20 cricket as much as anyone aren't they, with the IPL being based there and the commitment some players have to certain franchises and tournaments going on around that. I reckon a good example of where their cricket is now is the fact they played RP Singh in that last Test match, when he hadn't played a first-class game since January.

"While India have got the great players they've had they'll remain competitive, but once those guys move on it'll be really interesting for them, and I think South Africa will be exactly the same. Once [Graeme] Smith and Kallis and [Dale] Steyn go out of that team it'll be interesting to see how they rebuild as well."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Srinivas on August 28, 2011, 18:29 GMT

    @a1234s, I'm not comparing. I'm just saying that test cricket presents several unique challenges and Dravid and Gavaskar seem to possess that unique ability to control whatever is thrown at them. Lara and Shivnarine did the same for Windies. Kallis for SA etc....How does a player who can tackle all these unique situations with no fuss is ordinary/dozen a dime and how a paper god who struggles like a novice in those very situations is a genius (Ganguly confirmed it many times while commentating that Sachin once goes into shell can't come out and struggles)? How many times we have seen Dravid tackle such situations with no fuss? I'm trying to understand the arguement of Dravid baiters ;)

  • Srinivas on August 28, 2011, 17:44 GMT

    @Ashish Goyal, wow wow slow down bro. Not as funny as your irrelevant questions. Now you please go and ask Bishoo not to bowl negative line; and Ravi and Fidel to not to bowl wide outside off. BTW, everybody has seen the drama of the youngsters and Dhoni in the Windies in each and every test including the final innings of final test. Thanks for the chuckle......Why the hell Sachin couldn't step up and let Dravid some breathing space in the 4th innings in England? Sachin was hiding like a timid fellow down the order but fights tooth and nail to open in ODIs. It is preposterous to send Dravid to open again after carrying the bat through, that too after being on the field for the entire English batting, for the entire Indian first innings batting. Shameful to even question why Dravid got out. It was shambolic and spineless captaincy from Dhoni and timidity personified Sachin for not stepping up to the task. Gotta feel for your hillarity mate!

  • ad on August 28, 2011, 17:40 GMT

    @dravid_gravitas.. what you utter, mate.

    Lara and Dravid in the same breath. Even Dravid's most ardent supporters wouldn't go that far.

    Any way, Lara has scored more centuries in a losing cause than any other test cricketer..

    So, Dravid is better than La... aah chuck it...

  • Srinivas on August 28, 2011, 16:23 GMT

    @ravireng3, absolutely. Dravid is uniquely talented and it's such a rare trait that he has this unique ability like Gavaskar to defend no end and then come out on top. The Genius Lara is the other player who has also seems to have such complete control on the game. Ganguly was repeatedly saying how Sachin always fails in doing that. Genius??? Over-hyped. Period!

  • aashish on August 28, 2011, 16:01 GMT

    @Dravid_ Gravitas what do you mean by ultimate control and no fuss in Dravid's game??????????????why he got out in last innings (4th) when India needed him the most..why he made 33 runs in 92 balls when Ind needed 180 runs in 47 overs against WI in the last call it ultimate control???????and this is not the story of this year ..this is going on since his debut...and i am talking about only the Test matches..dont even mention about his ODIS...ultimate control???? are funny.

  • Srinivas on August 28, 2011, 14:09 GMT

    @Bold Biggy, and that exactly what Akram was saying during the series. He wants the wicket of Dravid foremost. And then went on to add, "What a great player this guy is!" @bismoy, Dravid fans behave in an irrational manner eh? And you find it perfectly normal that the fans of a timid fellow keep grinding their axe and resort to all sorts of laughable and ridiculous name calling on Dravid! Wonder why you don't find their behaviour irrational and uncalled for! Nuff said.....

  • Dummy4 on August 28, 2011, 13:32 GMT

    I don't get why people think Sachin is the best Indian batsman. Clearly Dravid is much harder for the bowler to dismiss.

  • Srinivas on August 28, 2011, 12:43 GMT

    @Dynamite Kid, and the same experts said that Dravid is a worthless player?????

  • Ritwik on August 28, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    LOL, even Dravid will roll out of his chair laughing at him being called a genius. Let me recall the number of bowlers who have rated Sachin as the best they have bowled to - Warne, McGrath (in 2002), Akram (alongside Richards and Gavaskar), Donald. Now name any bowler who has rated Dravid as the best batsman they have ever bowled to. Caan you? Let's see. Oh by the way, Cricinfo recently made an All Time Test XI team, and complemented with another 2nd reserves team. Sachin found a place in the 1st team, while Dravid went missing in even the 2nd team. That gives us a fair idea of how big of a genius Dravid is, LOL.

  • Srinivas on August 28, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    @sachin86, first of all Sachin is not the best batsman in the team. It's Rahul Dravid. What all we are asking that overhyped paper god is to lend a helping hand to the best batsman and Cricketing God Rahul Dravid, so that he could get some breathing space at least once in his entire career. Secondly, 'Sachin never opened in tests' excuse will always stay the same until he opens, for a start, at some point. So, that's a lame and tame excuse. No point seems to be a reason enough point for your paper god. BUT wait, FYI, Sachin did open against New Zealand in 1999; failed and never opened again. So, hold back your lame and tame excuse. Fourthly, why should VVS be 'airlifted' over Sachin in swinging conditions when the whole world knows that Sachin has a better front foot play? Why couldn't he even bat at #3? He was too busy hiding from #1/#2/#3 positions. Don't worry, your paper god will fight tooth and nail to open in ODIs. We all know why he sits in his favourite arm-chair.

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