Dravid's presence will benefit team 'enormously' - Laxman
Former India batsman VVS Laxman has said that Rahul Dravid's appointment as a mentor to the India team, ahead of the series against England, is an "excellent and positive move". Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Laxman said Dravid's presence will benefit the team "enormously", not just due to the "technical aspect but also the mental aspect, the planning of an innings which is so important to perform in English conditions."
Laxman, who was part of India's squad for the dismal tour of England in 2011, when they were whitewashed 0-4, said India's young batsmen would do well to learn from Dravid's success in that series. Dravid scored 461 runs in four Tests in 2011, including three hundreds. Six of his 36 Test centuries came in England, where he scored 1376 runs in 13 games at an average of 68.80.
"What was really impressive about Rahul's performance was that he, in a couple of Test matches, actually opened the batting and we all know how tough it is with the swinging ball, especially when it's new," Laxman said. "The bowling line-up hasn't changed much. I am sure Rahul's experience facing these bowlers will come in handy in his discussions with the batsmen - not only the strength and weakness of these bowlers, but also their mental approach to a particular batsman."
Laxman advised India's batsmen to spend some time picking Dravid's mind on how to approach an innings in English conditions.
"The reason why Rahul has been successful in English conditions is because of his mental discipline," Laxman said. "In England, we all know that even if you are settled and playing well, because of a sudden change in weather conditions you have to almost restart your innings, which is different to the sub-continent or places like Australia."
According to the BCCI, Dravid's stint with the team will be for the "preparatory stages of the tour". Once the series begins, Dravid will move into the commentary box which, according to Laxman, will be a blessing in disguise for the players.
"I remember when I was playing for India, I would bump into Sunil Gavaskar, who was a master of technique, to discuss various issues I was facing," he said. "So even though Rahul may not be there with the team, he will be at the ground and the players can always approach him."
A few voices in Indian cricket, including Sunil Gavaskar, have called for Dravid to take over as India coach but the former India captain has been reluctant citing family reasons. Laxman said Dravid's decision was understandable, after having been on the road for 16 years, but hoped Indian cricket could tap into his knowledge base.
"Everyone knows how good he is and how mature he is in communication with the youngsters", Laxman said. "I am sure his experience and his exposure to various conditions in world cricket will help the youngsters in improving their game and doing well for India."
Laxman also expressed his willingness to perform a similar role if given the chance.
"We benefited from the experiences our seniors shared with us. Ultimately all of us want Indian cricket to really blossom," he said. "This current Indian team is an exciting group of cricketers, very skillful, I was very impressed with how they played in South Africa and New Zealand, so I am sure they will do well in future series as well. If I am required to help them, I will be more than happy to."
Gaurav Kalra is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo