Chappell hails 'awesome' Dravid
"Awesome" - Greg Chappell couldn't have summed up Rahul Dravid's batting in the final Test any better. Speaking to the media a day after India's triumph, Chappell highlighted Dravid's efforts as key to their success and felt that it was tough to find a better innings to inspire the others in the team.
"His performance on the tour was outstanding, particularly his performance in this Test match," said Chappell at the Hilton Hotel in Kingston. "If he would not have been Man of the Match, I would have been disappointed, His performance was critical - obviously Harbhajan, Kumble and the pace bowlers contributed - but on that wicket he was the outstanding batsman from both sides.
"He is continuously striving to get better; when he got out in the first innings he did not complain abut the wicket, he just said I should have been forward. It shows the mindset of the individual - wanting to get better and better. For our young batsman to have that as an example in this Test was just fantastic. We couldn't have had a better example of commitment, application, desperation, determination, patience and technique to cope with the difficult conditions than we saw from our captain. History will show that he is one of the best players for anyone, forget India, anywhere, anytime. He makes runs anywhere and does it consistently."
But Chappell also focused on Dravid's captaincy, saying that he stood out by taking some tough decision. "He is improving all the time. The most important thing is he is prepared to take some tough decisions. Batting first in Anitgua wasn't an easy decision, batting first here wasn't the easiest of decisions. But they were the best decisions. Rahul decided that it was in the best interest of the team and that's an important step forward. He is improving in all departments and he will continue to do so till he retires."
As Dravid had done, while analysing the performances of a young, inexperienced seam attack, Chappell stressed that it would take time for them to get used to the demands of international cricket. "The fact that we have been able to win the Test series with three young fast bowlers is a great credit to them. The way they have learned quickly, the way they have developed, the way they have adjusted to the different conditions and demands of Test cricket is heartening. To win Test matches anywhere you need good pace bowlers. With the four young fast bowlers on this tour we have got the variety, and the depth to look forward with some confidence to playing cricket anywhere. That is a wonderful step forward."
"Mitigating circumstances", he mentioned, had played a part in the team's failures against Pakistan and England (India lost 1-0 in Pakistan and drew 1-1 against England) but was glad that this tour had been different. "We were obviously disappointed that we did not finish off those series well but we had some mitigating circumstances," he added. "I was sitting there, saw all of that and had to take it all on board. Things are never black and white, nothing is really clear-cut, you can't say that this is wrong and that is wrong. That [those defeats] raised a few alarm bells that helped us along the way. It was a different situation here and it worked differently."
So, finally, what does this win mean to Indian cricket? "We are becoming a good Test-playing team but we still have a lot of work to do. We are on the way to becoming a great Test match team and this is a important step in that. Nothing more, nothing less."
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo