Dravid not worried by critics' calls for youth
Rahul Dravid has said he is not worried by the clarion calls for youth that follow each of his failures. All he can do, he said, is to keep scoring runs.
"You do accept that when you are at a certain age and don't do well, people are going to ask questions," Dravid said. "When you are 23 or 24, certain questions are asked of you and when you are 37 or 38, the questions are different. It's part of being a sportsman and you can't complain about it. The only thing to do is to keep scoring runs. As long as the team is backing you, that's all you can ask for."
Dravid will turn 38 in January. His passport has proof of his footprints across the ten countries where he has gathered his 11,943 Test runs (just 10 short of Brian Lara), but his critics choose to fuss over one detail in that document: his age. In the seven games he played this year, prior to the series against New Zealand, he averaged 34.60. He said there was pressure on him, but it was born out of frustration of not contributing to the team's cause rather than from what his critics thought of him. "You accept the pressure and know you have to do well," Dravid said. "I don't think about failure or what people are saying. That's just a part and parcel of being an international cricketer and I have never had any complaints about it."
The way Dravid prepares for a game hasn't changed much over the years; he has just "refined" the process. "There are four or five boxes I need to tick every time [before a game]," he said. "Physical fitness, technical skills, mental preparation, and how I am feeling emotionally and spiritually. Sometimes you get the results, sometimes you don't. That's life, that's sport."
In the last year, Dravid has been dismissed by left-arm seamers six times. Chanaka Welegedara got him out thrice, Doug Bollinger twice, and Mitchell Johnson once. Dravid said he has worked hard at the National Cricket Academy and with Gary Kirsten, India's coach, to iron out the flaw. "It was a bit disappointing and I knew that it was an area I had to work on," he said. "I have put in some time at the NCA and also with Gary to tighten up my lines a little bit. I worked on trying to hit as straight as possible rather than opening my bat-face. I felt that I was opening it up towards the covers too much. It has worked a little bit. This was the only game we saw a left-arm quick [Andy McKay] in this series."
"Our plan was to bowl quite straight to him, and he played those deliveries well," McKay said at the end of the third day in Nagpur. "He waited for us to err off those straight lines, and capitalised on the opportunities. His wagon wheel shows he scored a lot of his runs through cover and midwicket. That's when we missed our lines."
Dravid batted for 573 minutes and faced 396 deliveries for his 191 before holing out off a tired shot. "At any stage in my career, batting for long hours has taken a lot out of me," he said. "But, I guess, I have to bat for a long time to score runs. It would be nice to be re-born as Veeru [Virender Sehwag] one day."
A steady approach has been the hallmark of Dravid's batting over the years and he said he enjoyed building long innings. "That's the way I play," he said. "I like to look at the game not immediately but two or three days ahead, see if I can build a platform, score some big runs, and watch the impact it has as the game progresses."