India A and India Under-19 coach Rahul Dravid has advocated bowlers having a slight advantage over batsmen in Tests, saying that it is bound to produce exciting five-day matches.
“I like challenging wickets, whether it does a bit of swing or seam or spins, I think that provides the most exciting Test match. Even in England — I know we lost 4-1 — there were a couple of those Test matches where the difference was some 30 runs or thereabouts. They were close Test matches, a little bit of luck here and there and one or two things going your way and who knows that result could have been different. It kept you at the edge of your seats, those four Test matches in particular. I remember the first four, and even the last one actually, the last day — everyday you got up thinking it was an exciting Test match day to be a part of. I really enjoy that, I enjoy when the ball has a slight advantage over the bat and I think that produces better Test cricket,” Dravid told Network 18 Group Sports Editor Gaurav Kalra in a freewheeling interview.
On being asked if the standard of Test match batting was dropping, the former India captain said, “To some extent, yes. Just the amount of white ball cricket that the boys are practicing, maybe they are not practicing as much red ball cricket as they probably were in the past and that is bound to have some level of impact when conditions get a bit more difficult, or challenging, whether it is swing or seam or spin or it could be anything,” Dravid said before adding that when he led the India A team to the tour of England recently, many players in the team had not practiced with a red ball for seven months.
“If you go back a generation, that would have never happened in my time, because we were playing a lot more red ball cricket. Even our domestic one-day cricket was played with a red ball, so that can have an impact. The boys do play a lot more shots now, they are a lot more attacking, they play a different brand of cricket. So, yes I think Test match batting has become slightly more different and sometimes when you do come up against different conditions, we sometimes see that teams do struggle and we see more results. So, it depends whether you see that as a good thing or a bad thing in the sense that not seeing too many draws is, maybe, not a bad thing,” the 45-year-old said.
In the freewheeling interview, Dravid also spoke about Virat Kohli’s captaincy, Ravi Shastri’s comment about the current Indian team being the best from the country in 15 years, India’s series defeat in England, the importance of practice matches before an overseas tour among other things.
On being asked why India are not succeeding as a batting unit in overseas conditions, Dravid pointed out that the English conditions were really tough for batsmen of both teams. He also added that given the way India’s bowlers were bowling, the team would be looking at the series defeat as an opportunity missed.
“The team would feel that this was an opportunity missed because of how well the bowlers were bowling. I mean we put together a bowling unit as good as I have ever seen before. Some of our bowling in that series was stuff of dreams… In spite of playing some very good cricket and having a really good bowling attack, taking some really good catches, we fell short,” Dravid said.
Dravid went on to add that had the batsmen performed even marginally better in key situations, the visiting team could have actually returned home victorious in the series. In the interview, he also heaped praise on India skipper Kohli — who has been under the scanner for his team selection and for his impulsive decision making at times — saying that he had taken the Indian team ‘forward’ during his time at the helm of the team. The legendary batsman also joked that Kohli could maybe learn how to win tosses after losing all five tosses in the Test series against England recently. Dravid also said that India coach Ravi Shastri’s comment about this being the best Indian team in the last 15 years was a comment which had been blown out of proportion by the media.