Under-19 World Cup 2016 January 19, 2016

Dravid urges U19 players to work towards India cap


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World Cup is an opportunity for exposure - Dravid

India Under-19 coach Rahul Dravid has said that best message he can give his players heading for the World Cup in Bangladesh is to treat it as a stepping stone on their journey towards the national dressing room. This would be Dravid's first major assignment in the job, but he is "not trying to win the World Cup" as a coach. Instead, he is focussed on helping the youngsters grow into capable players who can graduate towards playing for the national team in the future.  

"My message to them is to focus on actually improving, getting better, seeing this as an opportunity to learn and grow as a cricketer, to see this World Cup as another exposure they are getting at a very young age," Dravid said at the pre-departure media briefing in Mumbai. "They are lucky to get this at a young age. That's all I tell them about: it is just one step in their journey hopefully as cricketers. Nobody wants to end up being just an Under-19 India cricketer. That is not the aspiration of anybody in that dressing room we are sitting."

According to Dravid, just being consumed by the thought of winning the World Cup would not serve the young players well considering they ought to focus on the long-term goal of working towards earning the Indian cap. "I always keep reminding them there are enough examples of people who go on to play India Under-19, but don't go on to represent India. Conversely there are very good examples of people who have played at this level and then actually gone on to represent India. The important thing is you have to go on from here, score runs in first-class cricket, score runs in List A games and then get the recognition from the selectors."

As a player himself, Dravid participated in three World Cups with the national team (1999, 2003, 2007), with the last one as captain where India bowed out in the group stages. Dravid emphasised that he was not looking at the Under-19 tournament to cover up for the absence of a World Cup trophy in his career. He pointed out that his impact as a coach would always be limited. Hence it was important the players understood it was for them to work hard and execute the plans drawn by him and his coaching staff comprising Paras Mhambrey (fast bowling coach) and Abhay Sharma (spin bowling coach).

"I am not really going into this [tournament thinking] if we win it or if we lose it," Dravid said. "I know the role of a coach. And I know how much a coach can influence and impact a result. I am realistic about that. I knew how much I could impact the result as a player and I am realistic about how much I can impact the result as a coach. So it is in their hands. It is their opportunity, their team, their World Cup. And it is their opportunity to win the World Cup. Not necessarily mine as a coach really.

"I am not trying to win the World Cup as a coach. I am trying to hopefully grow and develop these guys. Winning the Under-19 World Cups is honestly not the be all and end all of anything. In the end I will be happier if some of these guys go on and play for India. That should be their aim and real aspiration."

In the previous edition of the tournament, played in the UAE in 2014, India had finished fifth after failing to make the semi-finals, but had topped Group A with three wins from as many matches. This time Dravid is more confident about what he calls a balanced Indian squad. The other teams in India's group are New Zealand, Nepal and Ireland, but Dravid pointed out that he would not read too much into the oppositions at this stage.

"One of the things about Under-19 [is that] you don't really know, you don't have enough knowledge about a lot of Under-19 teams. So I am not really focussed on who we are going to play against. It is really about can we do what we do well. Now I believe there is a lot of talent in the group. We are covered in all departments. We have got good fast bowlers, we have got very good spinners, we have got allrounders, we bat deep upto No. 8. So we have got it all covered. It is about executing our skills and the boys performing under pressure. If they play well and if they perform upto the potential that I have seen over the last two months then I don't think we need to worry too much what the other teams are like."

India's 15-member squad will be led by Jharkhand batsman Ishan Kishan. Their first match of the World Cup will be against Ireland on January 28 in Mirpur.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ash on January 22, 2016, 6:29 GMT

    @RightArmLightningFast: Dravid is not a dreamer but a realistic. It is not that he don't have faith in the team but he is asking him to focus beyond it too and reminding them that their goal should not be just winning the world cup. For your information read this one as well: In the previous edition of the tournament, played in the UAE in 2014, India had finished fifth after failing to make the semi-finals. If they can make the finals, then it is a achievement compared to what happened last time around.

  • Madhusudhan on January 21, 2016, 6:43 GMT

    There is no use of these kids, if they value IPL cap more Indian Cap. I hope they select right path and serve Indian Cricket, like selfless Rahul Sharath Dravid did.

  • Nik on January 21, 2016, 3:30 GMT

    @CRICENDRA - well said. This is what players like Border, Taylor, Waugh brought and carried on by Ponting. May not be likeable, but it does bring in wins. @LMAOTSETUNG - there are various grades in county. The point is these young players need to start experiencing different conditions. Groom them in the domestic leagues and then support them as they mature. The BCCI can do this - whether they actually do it is another story.

  •   Mathew Varghese on January 20, 2016, 15:06 GMT

    Rahul dravid was one of the most unselfish and gentlemen of the cricket era and will be along with kapil dev.but he is conservative like a test player as he is always been when it comes to T20 that too under19 kids are rebel n aggresive,so needs to be more proactive and tell the boys to bat like how adam gilchrist,lance klusner,yuvraj,brenden mccullum,develliers bats.bowlers to be like akram,donald,mcgrath,malinga,warne n muralitharan.fielders to be like jonty,develliers,mc cullum n captaining like ponting n 2007-2011 dhoni.all the best

  • Madhusudhan on January 20, 2016, 11:53 GMT

    Mr.Rahul Dravid's intentions is spot on as always. But these kids are dreaming about IPL. They are completely waste as we can make it out from current crop of players.

  • John on January 20, 2016, 9:08 GMT

    Rahul Dravid is a highly respected figure in Indian cricket. After reading his comments, I get the impression that he is putting too much pressure on his players to perform well and win the under 19 World Cup. There is a big gap between under 19 and the real world. What we have to realize is the fact that these youngsters are learning the game, and they have defects in their techniques that have to be addressed without changing their natural mechanics. So far they have mostly seen poor quality bowling, but now they will be facing better bowlers who are harder to handle. We also have to be realistic and accept the fact that many of these players do not have the quick reflexes and all the athletic skills necessary to reach the higher levels.

  • John on January 20, 2016, 8:40 GMT

    I like to mention one of the major problems facing youngsters learning the game. It is their education. In India when a youngster goes to college, he is a full time student. He will have to find time to do the schoolwork and try to develop the game. We all know that only very few of the players will make it to the top, and they cannot neglect their education.

    In the USA, the college education is flexible, and anybody who spends time in sports can take college courses when the have the time, and extend their college education. It is necessary in India to offer some kind of flexible educational system so that the talented youngsters can spend more time developing their game, and at the same time continue their education that most of them need when they do not succeed in cricket.

  • Cricinfouser on January 20, 2016, 8:38 GMT

    just thinking if these players get to play county cricket also so that they can become better and better. Just see Zaheer khan before and after county cricket and we can see a lot of improvement in him.

  • John on January 20, 2016, 8:08 GMT

    @Humdingers - you are making a big assumption that english counties would want the players you mentioned. Unless you are an established international player you ain't getting a short term county contract!

  • THANUKUMAR on January 20, 2016, 6:32 GMT

    Dear Rahul, Its really great to have such a wonderful player is coaching U19 team. You know what has to be done for India....... Find out some fast bowlers for india from u16 to promote u19 then India caps.. Its really amazing what Pakistan producing for their country. Now a great person like u do the best for india and we hope. Regards Thanu

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