'India, as a nation, is at the cusp of something special'

Interview — Rahul Dravid takes to a different pitch in an exclusive chat with The Telegraph


One disappointing series and Rahul Dravid decided to call it a day. But, then, he set such high standards — very different, indeed, from the lesser mortals.

Dravid’s views on cricket have been well-documented, not so his thoughts on other matters. Well, he got candid in a one-on-one with The Telegraph. The following are excerpts.

Quite a few people gave you the label of a Test specialist during your career. Did it irk you?

It didn’t irk me... Don’t think it ever hurt me or anything... But, definitely, I also recognised that at certain stages, I needed to get better at my one-day game if I wanted to have a long and successful career. I knew that, by far, I was not a finished product early on. So, I needed to keep getting better... Deep down, I knew that I could make it work. And, with a bit of luck and a bit of hard work, I could have a decently successful one-day career. So it turned out.

You’ve had an awesome innings...

I am glad that I was able to play both formats of the game, successfully, for a long period... At one stage, though, it did look like I would be just a Test player... I enjoyed playing one-day cricket and have great memories.

Twice in recent years, the selectors recalled you for a tournament/series overseas... In other words, they remembered you only when the conditions were challenging. What did you feel about the whole thing?

Once I got dropped (in 2007-08) and the team started doing quite well, I thought that the team had moved on... So, I didn’t expect to be picked (first for the 2009 Champions Trophy in South Africa and, then, the 2011 series in England)... But it was nice to get a couple of opportunities.

But shouldn’t you have been treated fairly?

(Pauses) It would have been nice, I guess, had I been able to carry on a little longer (in 2009)... But, that happens... I grew up with selections and non-selections! You can’t complain about it and you’ve got to take it positively. Otherwise, it gets to you.

Have you envied a fellow batsman?

Many times... There are so many of them and for so many reasons... Look at Sachin Tendulkar, whom I played a lifetime with... You’ve got to envy the guy for his consistency, his ability as a player, his composure, his technical excellence, his balance... Then, Brian Lara, Virender Sehwag... Aravinda de Silva... I even envy some of the young batsmen of today, envy their fearlessness... Look at the fearlessness of a Virat Kohli or a Suresh Raina... Or a Yuvraj Singh... To step out and hit a six... Sourav Ganguly’s ability to hit a six... Actually, more than envy, I would say admiration.

Can we, at some point in time, see you as a mentor to the Indian batsmen?

It’s difficult to say... I can’t predict what I would be doing in the years to come... We will have to wait and see what happens.

Being Rahul Dravid, are you conscious that you have to behave in a particular manner?

I don’t try to, but I obviously understand that there are certain responsibilities which go with being a recognisable face... There are certain things which you can do and certain things which you should not... But, other than that, I don’t particularly try to be someone else just because I’m a cricketer. I just try to be who I am.

But aren’t there heavier responsibilities on icons like you?

Well, like I’ve said, there are certain responsibilities that do come with being a public figure... But, at the end of the day, my personal view is that you have just got to try and be who you are. Within boundaries, of course. If you try and fake it, or if you try to be someone you are not, it shows.

Can you actually hop across to the nearest ice-cream parlour, in Bangalore, if you want to?

I can... In Bangalore, I can. It’s a total misconception that we cannot walk around and do the normal things... Sure, people do stop you and take autographs and take photographs, but you can still do the normal things.

Have you been amazed at the way Sachin has been handling himself off the field?

Sachin’s been incredible, the way he has carried himself... It’s not easy for someone starting out as young as he did... It’s tough in India for a 16-year-old... But, he has done a superb job, on and off the field.

How did you react when the Tiger Woods scandal broke, in late 2009?

It was a personal issue... Woods’ personal life is his personal life... That was an issue between him and his family and it wasn’t for anybody else to be judgemental... I’m definitely not judgemental about Woods and his personal life. What I’m interested in is his golf, how he plays the sport... Whether he can recover from some of the challenges that he has faced in his life... Nothing else.

In your view, then, Woods or anybody else in the public eye should be judged purely on the way he goes about his craft...

I can understand why it was a news report... But, at the end of the day, it’s just a plain and simple news report... What public figures do with their private lives, is their business... As long as they don’t interfere with the public or cheat the public... If you get in trouble for spot-fixing, then that’s an issue... Then, it is not a personal issue. But, otherwise, it is an individual’s personal life.

Three Pakistani cricketers went to jail for spot-fixing at the international level. What’s your take on this sordid business of fixing?

It hasn’t been nice to have played in an era where all this came out. Unfortunately, most times, you are first guilty, until proven innocent. So, in that sense, it has been tough because people then raise doubts about every game. Even though it is sad, hopefully, people will learn from the convictions.

How have you been as a parent to your sons, Samit and Anvay?

(Laughs) I don’t know... My wife (Vijeta) says I’m too soft and I spoil Samit. But I love spending time with him... I love reading story books to him... That has been our time of bonding.

Anvay...

The younger one is really small. At the moment, he needs his Mom more... I hope to be friends with my children.

Even on tours, you try and keep track of what’s happening in India... How do you see the India of today?

It’s a really exciting time to be an Indian, isn’t it? I think India, as a nation, is at the cusp of something special... There’s an opportunity (to grow) in this country and everyone says so... Of course, I’m not an expert, but in a lot of ways, we are in a position to become a great nation. Obviously, there are challenges... Hopefully, we can overcome them.

There have been plenty of scams...

I guess the good thing is that we are hearing about such things now and people are getting caught... People are getting convicted... So, that’s a positive from it all. The disappointing thing is that it’s going on... However, when people get caught and get convicted, then that gives the country confidence.

The last one... Who has had the single biggest influence on you?

Whatever you do, your parents have the biggest influence... They instil values... Clearly, my parents (Sharad, Pushpa) did that and have had the most influence on me as a person.

More: Click for Yahoo! Cricket's special coverage of Rahul Dravid

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Pietersen may play against Hyderabad

Pietersen may play against Hyderabad

As much as Pietersen's availability is a boost, the loss of a potent death bowler might sting Delhi badly. More »

Struggling Mumbai need batting fuel

Struggling Mumbai need batting fuel

Mumbai have explosive hitters down the order in the form of Corey Anderson and Kieron Pollard, but the lack of contributions from them has compounded their… More »

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting the IPL as a means of protest against the grime in the game may not yield the desired results. More »

Srinivasan's ICC presence to be challenged

Srinivasan's ICC presence to be challenged

Srinivasan, who has been replaced by the court as board president, was named the BCCI's representative to the ICC last September. However, that position… More »

Brilliant Maxwell powers Punjab’s renaissance

Brilliant Maxwell powers Punjab’s renaissance

Maxwell has easily been the best player on display in the first nine days, with scores of 95, 89 and 95 helping Punjab shed their image of also-rans and… More »

Indian cricket is now dope-free

Indian cricket is now dope-free

The BCCI conducted over 200 dope tests during senior domestic tournaments in the just-ended 2013-14 season – the largest number of tests done by an ICC… More »

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

IPL 7, GAME 11—Vinay's over, Lynn's catch turns last-over finish in KKR's favour. More »

Couldn't turn down ECB offer: Farbrace

Couldn't turn down ECB offer: Farbrace

England's new assistant coach Paul Farbrace admitted that it was impossible turn down the job even though he will have mixed feelings when he faces… More »

Atapattu likely to be SL interim coach

Atapattu likely to be SL interim coach

Sri Lanka's chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya issued the strongest indication yet that Marvan Atapattu would be appointed coach for the tour of Ireland… More »

T20 is all about the little things: Balaji

T20 is all about the little things: Balaji

Balaji acknowledged Maxwell’s role in Punjab’s great start to season seven, but he insists that the efforts of other players like Virender Sehwag, among… More »

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

... because, as recent events reveal, the BCCI has little intention of doing it. More »

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

IPL 7, GAME 10—Chennai beat Rajasthan by 7 runs after last-over scare. More »

Is Srini group delaying BCCI meeting?

Is Srini group delaying BCCI meeting?

The group opposed to Srinivasan alleged that since BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel belongs to the president’s group, he was intentionally delaying the SGM… More »

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

Dalmiya said that it was the first time that the BCCI had been faced with a situation where the apex court had hauled up the Board and it should have acted… More »

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Herath has been rested, while the team will be without the veteran pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who retired from T20 internationals… More »

'Gambhir will strike form soon'

'Gambhir will strike form soon'

Gautam made an eight-ball duck in the opening game against Mumbai and in the second game against Delhi, he lasted only half those balls. More »

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

Sri Lanka depart for assignments in Ireland and England in two weeks, and Sanath Jayasuriya suggested Marvan Atapattu would be interim head coach for those… More »

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Sri Lanka's cricket selectors on Wednesday sacked Dinesh Chandimal as Twenty20 captain and replaced him with Lasith Malinga, while Angelo Mathews was… More »

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

The ECB continued the restructuring of the England coaching set-up on Wednesday by announcing the appointment of Paul Farbrace as assistant coach. More »

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

Mukul Mudgal has communicated to the court his willingness to take up the investigation and has been asked to specify the terms and modalities on April… More »

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

The pay dispute between Sri Lanka Cricket and its 13 contracted players ended on Wednesday when the latter agreed to accept 10 percent of the participation… More »

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

With two heavy defeats at the hands of Bangalore and Chennai, Daredevils currently languish near the bottom of the table. More »

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

The Supreme Court prefers that the Justice Mudgal panel further investigate the IPL corruption scandal. More »

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

The Mukul Mudgal probe committee dropped a bombshell in the Supreme Court on Tuesday by making a sensational claim that it was forced to stop audio recording… More »