Dharamsala: You knew there was trouble brewing when mid-way through answering a question in Hindi, Rahul Dravid said: “…maybe I’ll answer this English so I don’t get myself into trouble.”
Not that the Indian coach isn’t proficient with his Hindi, but he needed a language he was most adept at because, to everyone’s surprise, he was going to take on the International Cricket Council on a peculiarly tense Saturday evening.
The ICC rated the pitches for the India versus Pakistan game in Ahmedabad and the India versus Australia game in Chennai as average earlier in the day, and Dravid was having none of it.
“If you only want to see 350 games and rate only those wickets as good, then I disagree with that,” he started off, already visibly agitated. “If you only wanted to see fours and sixes then isn’t that why you created T20s?
“If those wickets in Delhi and Pune, for example, are the good ones because they are high-scoring then why are the bowlers here? Why have spinners at all, for that matter? If you all want spinners to come in and bowl 10 overs for 60 runs and go, so that you can watch fours and sixes, and then one ball spins or two balls spin and you rate that as average? How does that work?”
Dravid dove into the several skills which are necessary to be successful in One-Day Internationals, stressing on the role of spinners. But his concern wasn’t so much that there are wickets which have been yielding 350-plus scores, he was only embittered that the ICC could label a pitch as average based on a couple of ‘low’ scores, and was curious to understand what metrics are used to identify the same.
“We cannot only judge wickets based on the number of fours and sixes or overall runs scored. I think we need to have a better way of deciding what is good and average,” he opined before diving into his next tirade.
“I don’t know what the rating was for those wickets, but we played the T20 World Cup in Australia. In Perth, we played a game where we scored 130-odd and South Africa chased that down, but the point is that the ball was seaming and swinging all over the place. And that’s a T20I game! So I hope that pitch was rated average as well,” he said before inserting a point about the World T20 final between Pakistan and England where around 130-odd runs were scored.
"I am not complaining about it. I think it is good, it is great. That wicket at Perth was good. It challenged different skills. It brought different skills out on display. And I am saying this even though we have lost those games. So, in a tournament, I just want to see variety, no?”
Dravid has rarely gone out of his way to take on the powers that be. In fact, it’s a criticism which he has endured even during his playing days, but this reaction to a seemingly innocuous call from the ICC could have something to do with the fact that Indian pitches have historically drawn more flak than others in the past.
“Yes, sometimes 350 runs will be scored, sometimes wickets will turn and other times the ball will seam a bit more, but that’s the game. The teams that are able to cope with all of those challenges and deal with that are the ones that will end up being successful,” he said.
“You want to standardise everything and make every wicket a 350 wicket? I mean – and there are very good skills on display, even in a 350-plus wicket. Yes, we see some great hitting. We see some terrific shots being played and all that. But other skills get missed out. And that’s fine on that particular day. The second the bowlers get some leverage you start rating pitches as average? Where does that leave the bowlers? Why are they coming then? If all we want to see is fours – like I said – we have T20Is, play two T20I matches instead.”
Yeah, he couldn’t have said all this with as much pique in Hindi. Surely not.
(Published 21 October 2023, 16:44 IST)