India’s cricket world cup win after more than a decade and a half has expectedly triggered plenty of tributes for the team and players. However, we chose to feature this piece on the man, we at Marcellus admire a lot for what he is both on and off the field – the coach and legend, Rahul Dravid.

Karthik Krishnaswamy brings out in equally subtle fashion, the numerous ways in which Dravid has contributed to the success of this team without ever being in the limelight.

Whilst several were surprised at Dravid’s jubilant celebration holding the trophy, Krishnaswamy wasn’t:

“Dravid, contrary to popular stereotype, has never been averse to letting rip with his pent-up emotions. There is, however, a pattern to the moments he’s chosen for unleashing that side of his personality.

Captaining India to their first Test series win in England in 21 years and winning a T20 World Cup as coach are massive achievements in and of themselves, as is bringing up a century in a series-turning follow-on partnership, which Dravid celebrated with an angry jab of his bat in the direction of the Eden Gardens press box.

All these moments, though, had an element of Dravid proving his doubters wrong. In 2001, he answered critics who questioned his ability to negotiate Shane Warne. The 2007 England tour had come after India, under Dravid’s captaincy, had crashed out of the ODI World Cup in the first round.

Barbados 2024, of course, followed Adelaide 2022, The Oval 2023 and Ahmedabad 2023.”

The last sentence referred to the ‘so near yet so far’ instances for the Indian team under Dravid’s coaching tenure having lost in the Test and ODI world championship finals among others.

“For a team like this, at a time like this, having Dravid on board must have helped immensely. Win or lose, few coaches are as consistent with their messaging as he is, and few coaches are as protective of their players while speaking publicly of them.

Few coaches are as eager to embrace change and new ways of thinking as Dravid is, but it’s rare for someone like that to be free of the impulse to rip up what came before and start afresh. Without being an ideologue in the way of Brendon McCullum, Dravid found a way to leave a progressive imprint on the team he took over.

The biggest example came right at the end of his tenure. Seven members of India’s squad at the T20 World Cup of 2024 were part of their 2021 campaign in the UAE, their last tournament before Dravid took over. Eight were part of their 2022 campaign in Australia.

India exited the 2021 tournament at the group stage and suffered a thumping defeat in their semi-final in 2022. Both tournaments are remembered for India playing a style of T20 that seemed behind the times, and both ended with widespread calls for an overhaul.

That didn’t happen, for reasons of both philosophy and pragmatism. If Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are impossible to drop for public-relations reasons, they’re also impossible to drop because they’re great, adaptable cricketers. Right through Dravid’s tenure, both showed a willingness to bat differently for the sake of team balance, and contributed to a change in India’s style that was evident even in the lead-up to the 2022 T20 World Cup. Though that tournament showed that India’s transformation, as individuals and as a collective, wasn’t yet complete, there were enough signs that they were building towards something.

It was no surprise, then, that Dravid’s immediate reaction to the 2024 victory was to reiterate that it was the culmination of a long process.”

Krishnaswamy’s ending couldn’t be more apt about Dravid:

“Dravid will be the first person to tell you that much of this growth and evolution across formats has come about because India have a vast pool of extremely talented players, and that he has merely played a small role in helping them realise their own potential. But it takes a bloody good coach to be aware of the limitations of his role, to know what he can and cannot control, and to not lose sight of these things in moments of victory and defeat. It takes a bloody good coach, above all, to keep sight of the humanity of his players, to challenge them to be the best cricketers they can be while protecting them in moments of vulnerability.

It was entirely characteristic of Dravid to show up for the post-match press conference when India lost the 2023 final in Ahmedabad, and let Rohit take the mic when they won the 2024 final in Bridgetown.

In the aftermath of Dravid’s greatest triumph, then, it’s appropriate to go back to his words from India’s night of despair in Ahmedabad.

“I’m sure the sun will come up tomorrow morning.”

More than anything else, Dravid the India coach knew how to put things in perspective. Whoever succeeds him would do well to keep that in mind.”

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