By CricketCountry Staff
Bangalore: May 31, 2012
Indian cricket legend Rahul Dravid might have featured in his last Indian Premier League (IPL). Taking over captaincy from Shane Warne, Dravid, earned respect from team mates and fans alike this IPL. For him, preparation for the T20 tournament post-retirement was not different.
He said,” I just retired from international cricket and two weeks later we were playing the IPL. So, from the preparation point of view, it didn’t feel any different. But captaining a team that had a lot of youngsters was different and also exciting in a lot of ways.
“It was a long tournament in that sense as you tend to get a lot more involved in the running of a team when you take on multiple roles. It was good fun to work with a fine bunch of people – players, support staff and management.”
The batsman did not want to speculate whether he can play the next season of the IPL. That, he says, will depend on his fitness.
Dravid was quoted by IPL’s official website as saying, “I have to be honest with myself. I will not be playing cricket for a year before the next IPL; and one year is a long time. It’s too early for me to comment. These are the decisions I can make only at the time of the next season.
“I have to assess how fit I am and if even after spending some time away from the game I still have the hunger. One thing is for sure – I want to play only if I’m completely confident that I’ll be able to give my best. “
The former Indian captain feels coping life without cricket will be a challenge for him.” It’s definitely going to be challenging. I’ve played this game since the time I was a boy and it’s not going to be easy to suddenly not play it,” he said. ”But that’s a part of life. I’m hoping that there will be new challenges in life that I can look forward to. I have a pretty young family and I’m sure my two kids will keep me busy. But yes, it’s never easy to leave the game you love and has been a part of your life for 39 years. I don’t think I’ll be able to go away from the game completely; I’ll still watch it and enjoy watching others play.”
Dravid enjoys mentoring the young Rajasthan side. Though he hasn’t decided to take up mentoring role on long term basis, he says he will be available to guide youngsters.
He said, “The credit for his work goes to him; he’s worked really hard and deserves the success he’s enjoying. The thing with Ajinkya Rahane is that he’s not an overnight success. He’s performed incredibly well in the Ranji Trophy since five years and averages over 60.
“It was a pleasure for me to bat with him this season, and I believe he’s got a lot of potential for all forms of the game. I believe that he has it in him to be a better batsman than I was. He shouldn’t just aspire to be as good as some of the greater players from the past but strive to become better than them; which he can.
“These are early days for him; it’s a learning curve and he has to face a lot of challenges as time goes on. I’m sure, with the right attitude and hard work he’ll be able to hold his own.”
Since his retirement, many youngsters have been knocking on India’s Test team doors. He had few words of advice for them.
He said, ”There are a lot of good young batsmen in India. And besides the obvious names doing the rounds, there are many batsmen who can fill in these slots as and when they open up. For all of them, the most important thing is to constantly keep improving.
”One of the great challenges of playing international sport is that people around you are constantly improving. Your opponents are working hard every day and are looking to get an edge to their game. They are going to analyse your game and try to go one up on you.
“So, you can’t afford to stay still or get complacent. You’ve got to constantly raise your game because it’s a journey that never stops whether you’re 21 or 35.”
The Rajasthan captain feels the IPL would have had an impact on his career if it existed when he started his career.
Dravid said, “It (IPL) would definitely have had an impact. If you play the IPL or T20 cricket at a young age, you have to adapt, learn to play different shots and improvise to survive in that environment.
“I’m sure had I been forced to play this format at a young age, I’d probably have had to adapt a little more and it might have changed my game to a certain extent.
“But I’m glad that I started out with Test cricket and had a solid foundation that helped me shape up a great Test career, which I’m really proud of.”
The batsman credits the IPL for giving exposure to youngsters to competitive cricket that will help them grow as professionals.
He said, “I think it’s already doing great, and from here, it can only go from strength to strength. Player-development and mentoring is very important.
“The IPL gives young players a feel of international cricket by playing in front of packed crowds and rubbing shoulders with world’s best cricketers.
“Now, it’s up to us, senior players, to pass on our experience to them and help them develop into fine cricketers and human beings.”