Decks cleared for Rahul Dravid to head cricket operations at NCA
Former India captain will continue to be the chief coach of the men's Under-19 and 'A' teams
Rahul Dravid is set to take charge as head of cricket operations at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, with an eye on converting the academy into a high-performance centre, the BCCI's target for a long time now. Although the tenure of the contract could not be ascertained, ESPNcricinfo understands that it will be a long-term arrangement.
With the NCA job, Dravid's role in Indian cricket has been expanded. He is also head coach of the India A and India Under-19 men's teams, positions he has held since 2015. It is believed that Dravid will continue in those roles, but will have the authority to delegate coaching duties to the assistant coaches in case he is unable to travel.
Dravid was meant to take charge at the NCA in early July, but it was delayed because he is also a paid employee of India Cements, owned by former BCCI president and ICC chairman N Srinivasan. It would have led to a conflict of interest situation, but as reported by the Hindu, Dravid has taken a leave of absence from India Cements until such time he serves as the head of NCA.
Keeping in mind the exponential growth of the game in India, especially after the advent of the IPL, the BCCI has wanted an experienced person at the helm at the NCA, someone who would chart a pathway and structure for young talent to flourish. It is understood that Saba Karim, BCCI's general manager of cricket, and Rahul Johri, the BCCI chief executive, were the key people involved in getting Dravid on board.
As part of Dravid's role at NCA, he will help create coaching and development programmes for both the men's A and the age-group teams, as well as for women's cricket. Dravid is also expected to create a programme for the development of physiotherapists and strength and conditioning coaches, keeping in mind the focus on fitness in modern cricket.
The BCCI confirmed in a statement on July 8 that Dravid's responsibilities would encompass men's, women's and age-group cricket.* "Mr Dravid will also work closely with the national men's and women's head coaches and cricket coaches for India developmental teams - including India A, India Under-19, and India Under-23 teams - in the identification of key training and development objectives," the statement said. "He will also be responsible for monitoring progress against these objectives for the developmental teams and provide necessary inputs on the same to the senior men's and women's head coaches."
The BCCI has always wanted to model the NCA on the same lines as the high-performance centres in Australia, England and South Africa, which have not just been breeding grounds for young cricket talent - male and female - but have also developed coaching staff and support staff including physios and trainers.
For long, the NCA has been run on an ad-hoc basis, although in the past decade the BCCI has tried to create a structure of sorts by appointing coaches and consultants to assist the second-string of Indian cricketers as well as age-group players. As part of the revamp, Tufan Ghosh was appointed chief operating officer at the NCA in late 2017 following a search for a professional with management experience from outside cricketing circles.
The NCA is also expected to move out of its home at the Karnataka State Cricket Association premises in Bengaluru to the outskirts of the metropolis in Arebinnamangala village, where the BCCI owns 40-odd acres of land. Ghosh is expected to play a key role in setting up the facility there and creating a centre of excellence.
*17.30GMT, July 8: This story was updated with the BCCI's statement
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo