September 15, 2007

Quitting when ahead

Rahul Dravid has made the right decision, leaving the captaincy on his own terms

Rahul Dravid won't be remembered as India's best captain, but at least he left the job with his dignity intact © AFP

If you give the captaincy your all, there is a definite use-by date. Rahul Dravid, an intense and thoughtful individual, has obviously reached the end of the line as captain.

As is the case with retirement for a regular player, for a captain it is better to resign when people are asking, "Why did you?" rather than "Why don't you?" Dravid certainly achieved that aim, having just completed a memorable Test series win over England and then pushing the hosts to the limit in the seven-match one-day international series.

Many people will wonder why Dravid has resigned from the most prestigious sporting job in India after only two years. I'm not surprised, because Dravid is the kind of person who puts his heart and soul into any job he tackles. When you do that, especially in a country where a billion people all think they can do the job better or at least as well, it can wear you down mentally.

Dravid is a man of great integrity and if he feels he's no longer capable of doing the job to his satisfaction and in a manner that will serve India best, he is not going to keep doing it for any kudos that may come his way. He won't be remembered as the best Indian captain but he'll be recalled as one who left the job with his dignity intact.

He was a solid captain, and there were times when he threatened to be an aggressive captain with oodles of flair, but in the end there was always the feeling that the extra pressure that comes with being Indian captain generally stifled those urges. It may also have been that captaining a side containing one superstar and a number of high-profile players wasn't conducive to Dravid always doing what his instincts told him was best to claim victory. Dravid is a strong and honest character but he is more inclined towards consensus than confrontation.

Because there is no obvious successor, the selectors may think about splitting the captaincy as a short-term solution. On that basis VVS Laxman would make a good Test captain; it may just be the confidence boost his batting needs, and it would give the selectors time to find a long-term, full-time captain. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been earmarked for future leadership and the one-day captaincy would be a good way to test his mettle.

In September, 1975, I resigned from the Australian captaincy after four years in the job, feeling a sense of satisfaction and relief. In the modern game with all the extra matches and duties, two years of Indian captaincy is the equivalent of four in the Australian job. I empathise with Dravid's decision and think he has made the correct call.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ganesh on September 19, 2007, 9:20 GMT

    Looking at the future, the board should have ideally come up with a plan of having MS Dhoni as the captain for odis, and persuaded Rahul to continue as the test captain for couple of years. That way pressure is relived of Rahul(considering the fact that there are more number of them played when compared to the test matches, and will give Dhoni enough time to settle down in learning the tricks of the trade. This plan would have ideally given Mahi, enough tome to horn the skills of becoming a successful captain.But now,by making Dhoni the captain for only two odi series, is going to create a tremendous pressure on him. For all you know it might get the best out of him,and i would not be surprised if the man from Jharkand succumbs to the pressure mounted on him.The decision taken by the BCCI is a very risky gamble for us to wait and see.

  • Vinoth on September 19, 2007, 1:23 GMT

    Well, Dravid was good in what he did and the message is that for a number of reasons, he was not enjoying the captaincy. Lets take it on face value. I am sure he is honest with himself and sure if he had one ounce of interest in it he would have stayed on. Its more like the decision that Ian Thorpe had to take when he wanted to give up his swimming career when he was at his prime. So, if we are looking forward, who are we looking at, the first rule of thumb is that the person should qualify as a member of the team first to be a leader. On that basis and recent performance, we can look at Dhoni, or Karthik. Although Dhoni has the runs on the board, it would be silly to ignore Karthik who has shown his mental toughness in England. For the One day series, I would support Dhoni & Karthik as the deputy. In the test, back Dada (Ganguly) and Dhoni can be his deputy. Australia and Pakistan are tough series and we will do well to learn from Ganguly's experience and revisit captaincy in Apr 08.

  • Ganesh on September 18, 2007, 15:03 GMT

    Rahul Dravid is known for his striaghtforwardness, and honesty, which we have been witnessing for more than a decade now, ever since he started playing for the country. He is a man who never shirks away from responsibilities entrusted on him.I honestly feel, stepping away from being a captain has been nagging his mind for quite sometime, and he was waiting for the right time to call for the decision. The Test series victory was probably what Rahul was waiting for, to finish on a high.Known for his commitment, who has even kept wickets, to meet the demands of the team management, some unpleasant things must have happened which has pushed him to take this unforeseen decision.The BCCI has a major responsibility in probing to find out the reason(s)which has triggered this call from Dravid, or is it possible that Rahul is unhappy with the board itself?, is big question to ponder.He has once again proved that he is a perfect gentleman once again by not pointing fingers at anybody.Kudos Jammy

  • Franklin on September 18, 2007, 14:04 GMT

    It is not for any of us to question whether Dravid has or has not done the right thing by resigning from the captaincy. He knows the pressures of the job and he has put in his papers. Let us accept his decision graciously. Cricket will go on with or without Dravid as captain. No one is indispensable.

    However, I would like to make one point on Ian Chappell stating that Dravid is a man of 'great integrity'. I can recall one instance when Dravid did not do the right thing. This is when he took a catch off the bounce/ground in the slips some years ago. I do not remember the match or the other team. All the Indian players appealed for the catch and the batsman was given OUT. Dravid knew that he had not taken the catch cleanly and to his credit, he did not go up in appeal. But it always rankles me that he did NOT ask the umpire to reverse his decision. In my book, it is cheating.

  • J on September 18, 2007, 10:35 GMT

    I am so sad to hear about the resignation of Dravid. He has been battered by the Indian Media ever since he took over the captaincy. He probably was not as animated as other captains of the past. He certainly was the most calm & relaxed under any given situation. He did not panic even under extreme situations. I am so glad that he has not quit cricket. He is one of the unsung heroes of Indian cricket. He is and will be a legend. We love him here in South Africa. He has the claaasssss. Dravid we salute you. Keep up the good work. A true Indian Patriot who gives his heart & soul for his country.

  • Asrit on September 17, 2007, 23:53 GMT

    To all the people who hate Dravid or question his leadership skills..I think its easy for us to sit in front of a computer and come up with some nonsense against players like Dravid who have given a lot to this game. Whether or not he is a great leader...he for sure is a solid character. For such a person to resign one should just feel sorry for the man. It kind of surprises me because he is the only one at this stage who can handle the pressure because he has passion and great skills to back it up. Laxman may be a good contender who can take the responsibility. Hopefully he does wake up from his laid back attitude. For dhoni I suppose there have been concerns over his keeping abilities. It might not be right to give him this responsibility. his game might take a toll. India needs a cool headed one like dravid. We can have an aggressive captain but the whole team needs to be aggressive and perform atleast 8 out of 10 times to carry the weight. I would prefer dinesh karthik instead.

  • Gandhimani on September 17, 2007, 11:54 GMT

    I agree with Rahul believing that he wont take any decision without an analysis and consultation from his well wishers and beloved ones. Upto to me "Rahul is one of the Best Captains" who also performed well under captaincy where someone misses. Anyways will beside him always watching him as a player as a whole hearted fan.

  • Mudassir on September 17, 2007, 10:46 GMT

    Well its good to quit captaincy after leading your side for couple of years but being one of the crucial decisions it needs to be made at the right time. I think this was not the right time to quit because for the moment the next Indian captain as far as the current indian team is concerned is nowhere in sight. So this would have been a fair dicision if somebody in Idian team had got that experience & temprament which is the integral part of this job. So in finally I would like to say that Dravid should captain the side for more one year

  • viswanathan on September 17, 2007, 1:22 GMT

    I feel he e has made the right decision though he must have kept it close to his chest excepting may be telling his wife and may be consulted Kumble, if my hunch is right. Every one knows what pressures he was put to. The selection committee never gave him the best possible team mbecause he was always a nice guy where as Ganguly got his way. Definitely some players did not support him like what they did to Ganguly. But he will be rememberd for his great batting in times of adversity and series victories against England and West Indies.

  • Rutvik on September 16, 2007, 18:28 GMT

    Nope. But its good for him and he knew that. Well whoever be the next captain doesn't matter when every players contribute and do their Job consistency just like a professional.

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