September 26, 2011

Did Dravid need to retire from ODIs?


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Rahul Dravid has indeed celebrated his 38th birthday. In fact he will be turning 39 in little over three months time from now. But did it mean that he needed to retire ‘officially’ from limited overs games at this point of time when runs were flowing as naturally from his blade as in the past.

I don’t understand the logic behind this particular decision of his. Did someone in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) or anyone of the selectors prompt him to announce his retirement or was it a personal move to conserve energy and extend his Test career?

Dravid was not playing One-day Internationals or Twenty20 Internationals all that regularly during the last few years when Mahendra Singh Dhoni appeared more comfortable leading a bunch of youngsters who were sharper in the field for sure.

India used to turn to Dravid in ODIs only in case of emergency when the pitches were livelier and the conditions were tougher for batting. That was a fair enough tactic, selecting him only for those matches where he was needed most.

After having scored three centuries in the four-Test series he was an automatic choice for the ODIs against England. In fact he was also selected for the one-off T20I. His announcement to retire from the limited overs cricket at the end of the ODIs was shocking to say the least.

May be someone from the BCCI or the selection committee approached him to declare his retirement plan in advance so that they didn’t face criticism for ignoring him in the event of the youngsters failing to deliver.

Obviously the BCCI officials were under enormous pressure after the debacle in the Test series and they were looking into ways and means of damage control. Dravid was the only batsman to get going in Test matches and he could not have been dropped from the ODIs if available.

As the whole world saw Dravid has lost none of his batting prowess. His continued success highlights the point that cricket is a game of technique and mind power. Even in ODIs and T20s skills are needed to score consistently. A slogger or a dasher can score heavily on a given day but he can’t be expected to do it in every outing.

Dravid still has the hunger and passion to score runs. If the Indians are finding it difficult to get high quality young batsmen then they should persist with those having proven record and whose capacity is beyond doubt.

Dravid’s decision to quit means he won’t be considered for the upcoming ODI series at home against England. More importantly he won’t be in action, until he reverses his decision to quit, in the one-dayers during India’s demanding tour of Australia where the pitches will have bounce and carry. Will the youngsters having accumulated heaps of runs at will on docile Indian tracks will come good in the more challenging environment or will they succumb again?


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