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Dravid, the right man to lead India

Dravid has porved himself as a leader, as a competitor, as a batsman.



PETER ROEBUCK

Rahul Dravid is poised to take over as captain of his country's cricket team. Over the last few years Dravid has given doughty and unstinting service to the Indian side and now deserves the chance to redirect an outfit that has been drifting towards the rocks. He is too dignified a man to seek promotion but must be frustrated by the confusion that has crept into a talented team and must recognise that a fresh wind is needed.

Dravid has fulfilled many roles within the Indian side and has all the experience needed to take higher office in his stride. He has kept wickets and batted in various positions requiring a wide range of skills, not least intelligence. Throughout he has conveyed the impression of a competitor of fierce intent whose ego was under control and whose greatest desire was to contribute to the collective effort.

At first sight Dravid did not seem the type to lead a team. Cricket captains must act quickly and decisively, must be prepared to follow their hunches, making their move before the thought has been given time to mature. Otherwise the moment is lost.

Demands balance

Captaincy demands a balance between aggression and patience. Dravid could appear lost in thought and was cast as the contemplative sort constantly on the verge of launching his attack. To add to the impression, he hails from a creative family whose members spend most of their time painting whilst dressed in berets. An artistic background is widely regarded as fatal for the man of action. Douglas Jardine did not spend his formative years smoking cheroots in French salon.

Inevitably Dravid was condemned by the caricature, damned by the adjective. He seemed to need more space and time than is permitted to the leader of men. Time has revealed the extent of our misunderstanding. Dravid has never worn his heart upon his sleeve. Rather he controls his passions because he realises that they are good servants and poor masters.

But his self-containment does not mean that his blood runs cold. Rather, he avoids excess for he knows how swiftly hopes can be dashed. It is no use expecting him to inspire with rhetorical flourishes or warm embraces. He concentrates on setting an example. In the end it is deeds that count.

That Dravid has had to fight every inch of the way has improved his leadership abilities by helping him to understand the struggles of rising players. He has a tough mind yet is a sympathetic listener Not so long ago he took several of the younger Indian players on an excursion to the tennis at Wimbledon. He appreciates the need for reassurance and a sense of belonging.

Like Steve Waugh he had to put his game and career together so he understands the process. His game has been as much the product of the will as the ability with which he was born.

Dravid is the right man to replace the incumbent. Along the way he has proved himself in both forms of the game and against the hardest opponents. No one holds him in higher regard than the Australians.

He has scored mighty hundreds at crucial times in Test cricket, and has mostly batted at first wicket down, widely regarded as the most demanding position in the list. No is he any longer dismissed as a Test match specialist. His ability to adapt his game to meet circumstances has been vital to the Indian one-day cause.

No sense lies in asking him to play under anyone else except the struggling incumbent. Dravid has proved himself as a leader, as a competitor, as a batsman and as an unselfish patriot. He is fit, committed and young enough to serve for several years. Moreover he has a fine relationship with Ganguly and the Bengali could play under him should his form return. In the current unforeseen circumstances he is the right man to captain India.

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