Rahul Dravid Curated

Former Indian cricketer and captain

CURATED BY :  


  • What are your views on India’s current bowling lineup?

    It’s fantastic to see the kind of bowling we’ve been doing. We’ve consistently been taking 20 wickets, and we look like taking 20 wickets in every Test. When you start a Test knowing your bowling attack can take 20 wickets, it gives you a huge fillip. At the moment, we’ve got four or five guys (fast bowlers). The bench strength in the fast bowling department is pretty good. You’ve got (Mohammed) Siraj performing really well at the A-level. Navdeep Saini and Ankit Rajpoot have been doing well. It’s nice to see Varun Aaron taking wickets in the domestic scene again. There are guys coming through. But you need to keep working on it. That’s the thing with fast bowling, and you’ve got to ensure you’ve got enough people (as backup).

  • What differentiates top players at the highest level?

    There’s a lot more to cricket than just skills. A lot of the game, as you go higher and higher, is about the mind — the mental side of the game. You need to understand your personality well. After a point, the difference between each one of you will become less. The people who will stand out are those who can handle the pressure better. You have to start thinking about how your mind works as it will be the differentiating factor as you go higher and higher in the ranks. Virat Kohli has as much skills as a lot of other people, but he is mentally tougher than everyone else. He knows his game better than everyone else.

  • Which do you think is the greatest innings played by an Indian cricketer?

    Without a doubt, I think, the 281 by VVS Laxman was probably one of the most significant and greatest innings played by an Indian cricketer, in terms of the context, the consequence, the innings was played in. I really had the best seat in the house for the greatest Indian innings ever played. I was still imagining him and visualizing him, stepping outside the leg-stump and hitting Shane Warne through the covers, for a ball that is pitched yards outside the legs-stump. Or to be able to flick a ball on the middle and off-stump on a turning track in Kolkata, across the line, against a great bowler like Shane Warne. Or driving Glenn McGrath or Jason Gillespie. The way he did it, I think, for me, it was an incredible experience, watching him bat. It was absolutely phenomenal to watch. Sometimes, I don’t like watching a lot of cricket. I really hate watching myself bat again when sometimes they show these old matches. If I am playing in that, I actually change the channel.

  • With India having such a vast talent pool and with so many skillful players around, how challenging is to give them game-time and nurturing them?

    I think the biggest challenge is the quality of players and the number of players. All those who are part of the India A sides are those who have performed and deserve an opportunity to play. It is not easy to give everyone an opportunity but we try our best and rotate the squad as much as possible. We ensure everyone gets a game if not two. We don’t focus on results and in fact, by doing that, we are getting good results. The quality is there not only in the playing XI, but the whole squad. Yes, the challenge is there and you feel for the boys. We are now organizing more A tours and it gives them an opportunity and also the selectors an opportunity to look at them and rotate the squad. For me, the A tours are a step up from domestic cricket. It is really a good barometer for them and the selectors to see whether they can perform or not. If they don’t do well it is still a good opportunity to learn and go back to domestic cricket and work on the things they need to. It is a very good buffer to have in between, as you don’t get exposed at the Test level. It gives a very good test of where these boys are and an understanding of the skills that need to be worked on both in bowling and batting.

  • After having introduced the white ball in domestic junior cricket, what changes have you observed?

    Just from Sri Lanka (Asia Cup) I think they are playing much better with the white ball. They are getting used to it, especially our bowlers. They never played with the white ball, they have played with the Kookaburra ball so for us that is a great learning. We are learning all the time because the World Cup is going to be with the white ball. The more we can learn and can pick up, the better we can get.

  • How do you keep track of the progress of youngsters?

    Once you get to know them a bit you follow their scores, you have their numbers and you are keeping track of them. I am in touch with a few of the U-19 World Cup (2016) guys. There are SMSes and wishes and things. You share some great memories with them and it is a very exciting time in their lives. It is always nice to be a part of this journey.

  • What is it that you have identified at the grassroots level that helps create good bench strength for India?

    I hate to take credit for it. There is a lot of talent in India. I have just been blown away with what I have seen over the last couple of years with the talent that is available in this country and the ability that exists. It is just great that we are able to give them these opportunities and BCCI is able to organize tours, ‘A’ tours and matches (series) like these. The more we can do of this (the better it will be). The talent that is already existing we have to just give them the opportunity and they will come up.

  • What are the things you have learnt as a coach?

    I have learnt a little bit of patience. I have learnt how to control my emotions. In tight games like a tie, you get a bit nervous and tense but I am learning along the way. It was a new experience for me. As with everything else, the more coaching you do, the more you learn.

  • Does Rahul Dravid, the coach, behave differently from Rahul Dravid, the cricketer during a close finish or a thriller?

    Sometimes it can be a little bit more nerve-wracking as a coach than it as a player because as a player you feel you have an opportunity to change things, especially if you are batting or still involved in the game. As a coach, you don't have the chance to change things or the game. So, you do get nervous because of the expectations and more importantly, you want the boys to do well. You are keen because some of them have performed well and you have that level of expectations and anxiety for them. I think it is a lot easier being a coach than a player as the player has to go out and perform and execute his skills under pressure, which is never really easy.

  • They say you learn more about the game as a coach than as a player. Has it been the same for you?

    It is interesting being a coach, you learn about a lot more things than as a player. As a player and as a batsman, your focus is on the batting side of things and you don’t pay as much attention to bowling. Coming in as a coach, I have been having conversations with our bowling coaches and the bowlers, and I have learnt quite a few things about bowling definitely. I have obviously been very curious and inquisitive about batting right through my career. So it is interesting as you get a better overall perspective about the game than you do as a player and especially as a specialist batsman.

  • How important is it for the youngsters to understand the Indian cricket history or leaving a legacy behind once you are done with the game?

    I think it is important to recognize and understand that you have a rich history and tradition in our country that you have to follow on from. You have to make them believe that they are custodians of this game from the time that you have been given this opportunity to play the game. It is important that you represent yourself and any team you play for with pride and dignity and ensure that you help to move the game forward. It is your responsibility to carry that legacy forward.

  • Why did you decline the offer of being awarded an honorary doctorate degree by multiple universities?

    The thing about the doctorate is that my mom did her PhD and earned a doctorate at the age of 55. My wife’s a surgeon who studied seven years to get a degree in surgery. And I’ve always felt that if it was something I wanted, I would like to have earned it. I don’t mean that anyone else should have that feeling and I’m not trying to belittle anyone else. It’s just that I felt that way because of my own experiences. And it’s not the first time that people have asked me to become a doctorate. It’s just that it’s happened privately and over an email exchange. And before it’s been announced, I have declined it politely even then. It so happened that this unfortunately came out in public.

  • What according to you differentiates top players at the highest level?

    There’s a lot more to cricket than just skills. A lot of the game, as you go higher and higher, is about the mind — the mental side of the game. You need to understand your personality well. After a point, the difference between each one of you will become less. The people who will stand out are those who can handle the pressure better. You have to start thinking about how your mind works as it will be the differentiating factor as you go higher and higher in the ranks.

  • How did you feel the first time you were selected to represent India?

  • Do you remember the exact moment you got the call to represent India?

  • Who helped you frame your career at the beginning?

  • Do you feel privileged to have represented India?

  • How do you recall your debut at the Lord’s Cricket Ground?

  • You were shuffled quite a bit in the batting order when you were a newcomer in the Indian side. What kind of impact did that have on your batting?

  • Why did you stop keeping wickets in your teenage years?

  • How was the experience of getting your first century for India in Test match cricket?

  • What was going through your head when you achieved your first century in Test Cricket?

  • In your mind, what makes an ideal captain?

  • Does a player start stagnating at some point in their career or is there always room for improvement?

  • Are you a religious person?

  • What was playing for India like?

    Playing for India gave me the opportunity to travel the world, to play on some of the greatest grounds in the world. In cities and countries that I had only heard of on the radio, listening to radio commentary with my father or waking up in the morning and picking up the newspaper to see what Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, GR Viswanath had done the next day.

  • What is something that you don’t miss about cricket?

  • Was adaptability a part of your nature or was it something that you worked towards achieving as your career progressed?

  • How would you prepare for a long innings?

  • How did you plan your batting approach?

  • How tough is on-the-spot decision making for a captain?

  • Did you ever set targets when you played?

  • How do you pick yourself up after a run of poor performances knowing that there are hundreds of players vying for your spot?

  • If you as a captain make a decision and the most valuable player in the team, say someone like a Sachin Tendulkar or a Sourav Ganguly, disagrees with you, then how do you deal with it?

  • Is it a given that players in a team are always on the same page and understanding of each other no matter what happens?

  • What is more difficult to handle? Accolades or criticism?

  • There have been a handful of instances when you performed exceptionally well but some teammate of yours did a little better and your performance got overshadowed. How do you feel about that?

  • As a captain, how do you help a player reach their potential?

  • How do you look back at the Greg Chapell fiasco?

  • Which is your favourite country to tour?

    I really enjoy going to England. It was my first tour as a young boy, even before I played for India’s senior side. It was also my first overseas trip, and I’ve been there many times since. I’ve always enjoyed touring England. I like that you don’t have to go from place to place in an aircraft. You usually travel by bus; the bus almost becomes like a second home in some ways. Also, to train and play on some of the great grounds, having grown up hearing and reading about them… And I’ve always done well in England. 

  • What does being a gentleman mean to you?

     I don’t try to be someone I’m not. I’m not trying to portray a different image, not become someone just for the sake of being that. I’ve been myself, reflect the values that I’ve been brought up with. I tried to do the best that I could in the sport. Playing cricket started out as a hobby and I was lucky that I could make it a profession that I love. I tried to become the best cricketer I could.  I’ve always found that the most comfortable and easy thing to do is concentrate on my batting and be myself.

  • Do the Twenty20 and IPL threaten India’s Test cricket ranking?

    No, I think Test cricket will survive. It’s just that the T20s pose a challenge to the calendar and schedule. At the end of the day, there aren’t more than 365 days in a year and the boys have to manage their schedules in a way that allows them to play enough test cricket. Test cricket will survive; the administrators can schedule enough matches throughout the year. Even if people don’t necessarily come to the ground to watch Test cricket, they still follow the game and a lot of young players want to play that game. So from that point of view I think test cricket is in good health but obviously T20’s rise means that we’re going to have to find time for it too, and that’s going to be the biggest challenge for the administrators. 

  • Who do you think is going to take up your mantle?

    Oh, there are a host of young players, especially in the batting department. A lot of the guys have been doing well in the one-day format and some of them have played a few test matches already, so I have no doubt. History will tell you that batting in India has always found replacements. We have had a tradition of strong and young players coming through and I don’t see why it should be any different this time around. Without mentioning any names, I have seen a lot of young players there who can outdo [the senior players].

  • Do you agree that India needs to have a tougher bowling attack to win overseas?

    Zaheer is a top-class bowler and probably the number one bowler we’ve got. I think how we do overseas is decided by how strong a bowling attack we can hav, and that’s been the key to our success over the last ten years with people like Zaheer, Kumble, Srinath and Harbhajan to name a few. Obviously Zaheer and Harbhajan are the most experienced bowlers now, and finding a group of young bowlers to take over from them is going to be a challenge. 

  • Who are the top five bowlers you have faced?

    Glen McGrath [had] consistency, control and bounce.  Muralitharan had great spin; Shane Warne, a lot of guile and an ability to think ahead of the game. Allan Donald had pace and aggression. Curtly Ambrose had consistency and an adventurous attitude.

  • How do you see the victory of the U-19 World Cup for the team and for yourself?

    I've always maintained that this level is not about results. I think it’s very heartening from the perspective that we’ve won, what I've really liked about this is that the victory is just a part of the process we went through over the last 14-16 months: The number of matches we played or the number of opportunities we gave to people to be a part of the Indian set-up. At least 30 boys played for India in different tournaments in different games. We took a conscious decision of not picking certain boys who played in the last World Cup and were eligible for this World Cup. That would have made the team definitely stronger and would have given us a better chance to win the World Cup. But in my opinion, that wouldn't have been good for the boys themselves. I don't believe they should be hanging around playing Under-19 cricket for too long. They had already matured and I think they're too good for this level. Some of these boys might not have got the opportunity to take up that responsibility — Prithvi (Shaw) might not have captained, Shubman (Gill) might not have had a chance to bat at No 3 — things like that. That for me has been a lot more heartening. In the end, it's nice to have the victory because for the boys it's a great memory. It's something they'll remember, it's fantastic for them because they've put in a lot of hard work. They go through a lot to get to this stage, so I'm really happy for them. But I'm pleased with the process we went through, I hope we can refine it even in the future, and not focus too much on whether we win or not.

  • What makes India stand out so much among the other teams?

    To be fair, it didn't look like that when we played in the Asia Cup few months ago. We lost in the Asia Cup even though admittedly it was a different team. But still, I think we didn't play well in the Asia Cup and got beaten by teams that played better than us. I think we prepared well and it sort of all came together. It’s very heartening, the kind of performances (we saw) in the knockout stages. We're definitely a much improved side than the one that played in the first game. To have those kind of margins of victories against those teams — who I thought were pretty good sides as well — it's heartening. I think everyone seemed switched on, determined. I think the work we put in practice paid off.

  • How have you motivated the players who were injured?

    I think huge credit (should go) to our physio and fitness trainer. We had a few injuries in the team, 50-50, tricky ones. They worked hard on the guys, put in a lot of effort to ensure they were right, just for the fact that for the boys this was everything the boys had worked for. Easiest thing for us would have been to send some of them home. We chose to back them, support them. We took those risks, credit to Anand (strength and conditioning coach), Yogesh (physio), really did a fantastic job. Also at this stage, it’s important to give credit to the NCA. It’s much maligned in my opinion, unfortunately. But when you see Kamlesh (Nagarkoti) and Shivam (Mavi) bowl, when we congratulate ourselves, we should raise a toast to the NCA. All of these boys, over the course of a year, were managed very carefully at NCA. They had a couple of injuries. The trainers, physios worked hard with them. Lot of this is team effort, it’s not just what I do, it’s also my support staff here, the backing of the NCA and the BCCI, organising tournaments. The selectors, did a terrific job, they watched a lot of games, three of them, Venky (Venkatesh Prasad), Gyanu (Gyanendra Pandey) and Rakesh (Parikh), to come up with names and talent. Then it’s exciting for us to work with that talent.

  • What’s your advice to the players who will now move into higher level cricket?

    Those are conversations we’ve already been having. Hopefully they would have enjoyed this, they would learn from it. They’ll reflect on these last, not six weeks but 14 months, and they will take those learnings into first-class cricket. Hopefully, this will not be the highlight of their careers. The highlight should come when they lift a big trophy for India or the Ranji Trophy for their state teams. Those should be the highlights. This should be a stepping stone and something that’s a great memory. Great friendships which they will cherish. But the tough part starts now.

  • How important for you were the early preparation and cricket practices?

    To be fair, we were here about a week before, maybe eight days or so before the warm-up period. The warm-up gave us another week, so 15-16 days in total. I think that phase was very important though. None of these boys had played outside the sub-continent before, though some of them had been to England. These were very different conditions and we gained a lot from that week. We were able to rotate the squad. There was a lot of talk that the middle order has not got enough time in the middle. It was true, there was no denying that. It was a long time ago, but in Napier, Riyan (Parag) had got a lot of runs, Harvik (Desai) was batting well. Anukul (Roy) had got a fifty, so I wasn’t that worried. You are bit anxious about the fact that they haven't really batted in a game situation. But all of them had enough practice and enough hits leading up to this. We felt really confident.

  • Is it emotional at all for you, having been with them for almost two years as these boys won’t be together after this?

    It is the end of the road in some ways, so yes, it is a bit emotional. In the last edition with those boys, the last bunch I was only there for two or three months. They do stay in touch, but of course, it is not the same thing; which is why I tried to bring some of them (the previous batch) in to play against these boys before they came here. For their own sake, we try and get them to connect and get together as much as possible. I hope to see some of the players on ‘A’ tours. Some of them might stay back and play more Under-19 cricket, the ones who are a bit young and would benefit from it. But some of them who are eligible for the World Cup even the next time should move on and play Ranji Trophy instead. We build bonds and we build relationships and then they go, so one of the important things is that we manage them and not let them disappear once again.

  • Why is it that players of U-19, who were under your guidance had to behave themselves properly even after the win in the Asia Cup?

    One of the things I recognised when I started coaching, especially at the U-19 level, is when someone who’s played a lot of cricket comes in as coach, players can be a bit hesitant at times. You have a reputation. Just knowing from being a U-19 cricketer myself when a Sunil Gavaskar or a Kapil Dev came to a national camp in Bangalore, I would probably have been tongue-tied and not been able to speak to them. You just have to make things as relaxed as possible. You have to be the first one to approach them at times. But the more time we spend with each other, they get to know me better, especially when we go on tours. I found with the last U-19 team that by the time the World Cup was over, they are pretty confident to come, have a chat about things and even share a joke with me.

  • You’ve always come across as this guy who bottles up all his emotions, and some even have gone on to call you stuck-up. Is it true?

    I am who I am. I am a slightly quieter person than other people. But in the confines of a dressing room and with people I know I’d like to think I’m pretty relaxed, yaar. People will and do get to know me. That’s important, right? It’s not an effort for me. As time has gone on, you mature, you are a bit more chilled. Interacting with your own children means that you lighten up a bit. I really think I’ve just been introverted and shy more than anything. At times it can be thought that he doesn’t like to talk. I’ve never tried to be someone I’m not. I can’t put up a face.

  • The events which you have performed on the stage in the IPL must have made you upset?

    They are uncomfortable. It’s not easy for me. You won’t see me being the life of a party or standing up and suddenly singing or dancing. The few times I do it, it’s a little bit against my nature. But it’s sometimes good to try and get out of your nature. At the end of the day, you want an environment in which you are happy and allowed to be yourself. Everyone’s different and there’s no right and wrong. When you are allowed to be yourself, you give your best.

  • The only time you probably showed a lot of emotion was by flinging your cap in the Royals’ dugout after a bad defeat at Wankhede Stadium a couple of years ago. Tell us about it.

    I do get nervous, yaar. I get more nervous as a coach than I did as a player, whether it’s at Rajasthan Royals or even at the U-19 level. The thing with being coach is that you can’t really do anything about it. You’re just relying on other people and in fact, you’re feeling for them. You know you’ve spent time, invested conversations and you’re really hoping that they do well for their own sake more than anything else. It’s one thing feeling nervous about yourself when you are playing. But now it’s enhanced because you are feeling nervous for other people. I’ve learnt from good coaches that one of the things is that you have to try and show your team that you’re not getting stressed. I never enjoyed being in a dressing room when I found the coach getting nervous, tense and showing his emotions. That did nothing for me. It only made me feel worse. So I’ve made a conscious effort to not get over-excited when we win and not get too down when we lose. I’m not claiming that I’ve never lost my cooI or that it won’t happen again. I just try and make it as less as possible. As a philosophy, I like to just try and give the perception of being calm. It’s worked in my cricket as well. You have to keep working on it. It’s not that easy. You are sitting there, drinking a cup of cappuccino and thinking “I’m trying to act cool there” but underneath it’s a different story.

  • If you could win one trophy in a sport other than cricket, which one would it be?

    Any Olympic gold would do. Even an Olympic gold for watching would be amazing. To win an Olympic gold would be incredible.

  • A batsman from the past you would’ve liked to have had a partnership with?

    I would have loved to have partnered Sunil Gavaskar. And hopefully Gavaskar would have gotten out and GR Viswanath would have walked in. That would be cool. They were my childhood heroes growing up.

  • Which is the finest book you’ve read?

    It’s not the finest book but it is a book that influenced me as a youngster. It is Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. I read it as a 15-16 year old and resonated with what I was trying to do at that stage in life. It came in at a time when I was trying to make cricket into a career.

  • What is the most memorable headline about you that you remember from your career?

    ‘Dravid helps St. Joseph’s win title’. I think that’s one of the earliest in my career but first time your name comes in the paper, you remember it. I was all excited about it and hope they get the spelling right. A lot of times in my early career, a lot of the reports said ‘David’ while the scoreboard would say ‘Dravid’.

  • Amongst the present crop of bowlers, who do you think would have troubled you the most?

    I’m not that old! I’ve played with a quiet a few of them and been troubled enough! Someone like Mitchell Starc maybe but I’ve played him. Kagiso Rabada maybe. If you’re counting Indian bowlers, Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) would be quite a challenge. Facing Bhuvi with the new ball with his ability to get the ball to move away and come back in would be a great challenge.

  • A non-cricketing sportsperson you admire and would look to meet?

    Have met him but Roger Federer is really someone I’ve watched and admired with the way he’s carried himself and what he’s done. I watched him once at Wimbledon and was a fanboy moment, took a photograph so it was loving going to Wimbledon and getting to meet him once.

  • What has surprised you as coach of India’s U-19 team and India’s A-team?

    A pleasant surprise has been in terms of the talent on show. Boys are definitely more aware and have a lot more exposure from what I remember of U-19. Large part of that is due to the NCA [National Cricket Academy], camps they go to and tournaments they play. I think there is a kind of understanding that cricket can be a career. The support and help the U-19 team gets today is probably better than [what] a lot of national teams I was part of in my early years [got]. We are getting better at managing the talent we have.

  • You are credited for India’s bench strength. What are your views?

    Work constantly needs to happen. It is not a one-time thing or a two-year thing. I think it is important to tighten the process or programme that exists at U-19 and A team levels. Make it more robust. Make sure there are opportunities every year. There is now a path for people who do well in the Ranji Trophy. I definitely feel that in white ball cricket we have lot of depth, largely due to the amount of white ball cricket that is played. In red ball cricket, we have talent and decent backups, but again it is a work in progress.

  • How do you deal with senior team discards and those waiting to get in the senior side?

    That is hard. That will be one of the biggest challenges we will face in the future. Opportunities to play in the Indian team are limited and sometimes you could be doing everything right, and still not get selected. You can only get selected if the position opens up. It is happening a lot more now, because there is a lot more cricket [being played]. But, people are getting opportunities to showcase their talent more than they could in the past.

  • What are your views on the new concept of shadow tours with the A team, ahead of a major overseas senior tour?

    The good thing from our [India A] perspective is that there is nothing to worry about. When we go on a tour abroad, it is good learning for us. Even if we do not do particularly well, I look at it as an opportunity for what skills can be improved. A team programmes are sometimes a bit more complicated than a usual series. This is where the BCCI is doing a good job—trying to work with us. We need other boards to agree, [too].

  • What are your thoughts regarding the lack of practice and few tour games ahead of major series?

    I think that needs to change. I benefitted hugely from having proper first-class games. Maybe schedules have changed and things are more complicated, but there is no doubt that a couple of first-class games before any Test tour is only going to help. I found this 14 playing 14 [rotation system] started happening towards the end of my career. I did not like those games as a player.

  • How important is stability for a player in a team?

    As much as you would like stability, sometimes situations do not allow it. There could be injuries, lack of form and [other] conditions. Nobody says that if you are picked you will play five Tests. In India A, we rotate our squads a lot. I tell all the players they are performers. A player needs to be treated with that level of respect.

  • What comments would you give regarding the suggestions from the ICC to use the English Duke Ball for all test?

    No, we need to use an Indian-manufactured ball in our domestic cricket. The most dangerous thing you can do is use a ball not manufactured in this country. The beauty of using the SG ball at national level is that the same ball is used by a club cricketer. A Ranji Trophy cricketer is using the same ball all the way up. But, if we shift to a Dukes ball, for example, it is a very expensive ball. When someone makes a comment like that, [they] have to see how it impacts all the way down to your Under-16 cricket and your club cricket. The way around that is to procure more Dukes balls for our bowlers to practise before we go to England or maybe use it in a one-off tournament like the Duleep Trophy.

  • What’s the one skill you would have liked to have borrowed from another batsman’s game?

  • What comments would you give regarding the suggestions from the ICC to use the English Duke Ball for all test?

    No, we need to use an Indian-manufactured ball in our domestic cricket. The most dangerous thing you can do is use a ball not manufactured in this country. The beauty of using the SG ball at national level is that the same ball is used by a club cricketer. A Ranji Trophy cricketer is using the same ball all the way up. But, if we shift to a Dukes ball, for example, it is a very expensive ball. When someone makes a comment like that, [they] have to see how it impacts all the way down to your Under-16 cricket and your club cricket. The way around that is to procure more Dukes balls for our bowlers to practise before we go to England or maybe use it in a one-off tournament like the Duleep Trophy.

  • If you had not been a cricketer, what would you have pursued in your career?

  • Name one bowler from the past you would love to face.

  • If you could win another trophy from another sport what would it be?

  • Of the events where you respectively scored 233 runs in Adelaide, 180 runs in Kolkata and 81 in Jamaica, which has been your favourite?

  • Who has been a role model in your life?

  • Name a batsman from the past with whom you would like to have a partnership with.

  • Which memorable headline about your career you remember the most?

  • Which is your favourite cricket stadium?

  • Name some top class young bowlers who has been a trouble to you during in your cricket career?

  • Name one batsman who you would choose to bat for your life.

  • How deeply were you interested in slip fielding during cricket matches?

    I have never considered myself a natural slip fielder, but I worked hard on it, I practised it, and I have taken my fair share of them. Growing up, in my Under-15 days I used to be a wicketkeeper and that carried on till I was 17. Then I started focusing on my batting and moved on. I got into the Ranji team quite early, and generally, as a youngster the first place you are put in is at bat-pad and short leg, so you had to work on your close-in fielding straightaway. GR Viswanath was the chairman of selectors in Karnataka back then and we did a lot of slip catching early in the morning. I started really enjoying slip catching because it was very competitive. We had these competitive games with each other as Vishy sent catches our way. With a lot of younger kids coming into the team, we would try to outdo each other. Once I was in the Indian team I was at silly point and short leg for about four years in the beginning. I started enjoying it by working on the reflexes and catching. Once I became a bit senior - if I could call it that - I moved to the slips. It was a natural progression.

  • What’s the funniest sledge you’ve faced as a batsman?

  • How did you figure out which was the best spot for you in the slip cordon?

    When John Wright came in [as coach] he was very keen that we get specalist fielding positions and stick to one position. I identified first slip as a good one for myself.

  • Is it always better to have your preferred hand taking the ball, with the other one wrapped around as a support?

    The fact that I never thought about it means I am not sure if I do all that. I just catch the ball. I do have big hands and that does help in slip catching. I don't think you have time to think which hand should come on top; it just comes naturally.

  • How tough is it for a player to sustain form while awaiting a chance in the senior team?

    It is not easy at all. For boys who are there and thereabout, every game is a consequential game. It is not easy to keep playing those games. I have been there myself. I have a lot of sympathy for these guys. The opposition is not so easy. It toughens them up. But, like I say, you chose to play this sport; you signed up for this.

  • As a coach are you proud of yourself when you get to know that Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Prithvi Shaw have been selected for India’s Test Series?

    No, I don't actually, it is their journey. I just feel privileged to be a part of it for a period of time. And I think it is actually a very critical period of time. Having been through this myself, the sort of transition period from being a successful first-class cricketer and then there is that period where there is that level of uncertainty, you sort of want to break into the national team, it can be quite a difficult period as a young cricketer, because there is a lot of fear, doubts....'will I make it, am I good enough, not good enough', there are lots of things happening at that stage and I have been through it myself. I just feel privileged to be a part of that sort of stage in their lives in someways and get a chance to contribute to their journey in that sense and share some of the ideas and experience that we have, try and create a very good environment for them that allows them to be the best that they can and that is just all that we can do. It definitely does feel nice when they are able to achieve their potential. And it is not just the guys who get selected, obviously, the guys that get selected are the names that come out, but there are other guys who actually perform at our teams who I feel as proud of. Even though they are not as close to national selection as somebody else but, you have made some kind of a significant impact or contribution in their career as well. So, it is not just about individuals or any individual name that excites you, it is about the programme and the kind of people we have been able to get and a lot of it is teamwork. We have got some great people in both the A team and the U-19 setup, backed by the NCA, backed by the BCCI, the background team at the BCCI as well. I think fair to say, we have been able to create a very good programme over the last two-and-a-half to three years at the A team and U-19 level which is giving these boys an opportunity to express the talent they already have.

  • Do you think that playing for India’s A-team is about creating opportunity and a competitive environment in which they excel in?

    It has and I think that has been a focus to expose them to as many different conditions as possible and to give as many boys as possible the exposure and I have said this a lot - I don't really focus on results at this India A level. I mean we try and rotate the squad as much as we possibly can, we give more boys the opportunity because I genuinely believe there is no best XI at the India A level, it is a squad, 15, maybe sometimes more than a 15 that the selectors are looking at and they are all performers at the first-class level. So we try and give them as many opportunities as we possibly can, and expose them to different conditions, even in places like Bangalore or wherever we play, even in India, we try and get wickets that are different to what they might expect with their first-class teams or Indian wickets and as much of foreign exposure as we possibly can give them. So, it is a whole package, it is a whole process really that is important.

  • Why is India not succeeding as a batting unit in overseas conditions?

    Firstly, the point I would like to make is that there were pretty tough conditions (in England). I mean, I know it is very easy to be critical about people, but those were not easy batting conditions in England this time. Other than Virat Kohli, who was head and shoulders above everyone else, both teams found it difficult. Having said that I think that 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. So, I think they will look back and feel that if we had batted a bit better in some key situations or maybe push through and scored a few more runs, we could have won this series and it will seem for the boys like, and even for us who are involved, and involved in India cricket in some ways, we will look at this slightly as an opportunity missed. Four years is a long time. To go back to England in four years, you never really know what'ts the team like, who is fit, do you have the same bowling attack. From my own experience, four years can be a long time, it could be a completely different bunch of boys going there for you. So, for these boys who were there and part of it, they will feel it was an opportunity missed. In spite of playing some very good cricket and having a really good bowling attack, taking some really good catches, we fell short.

  • Do you feel worried when you watch Rishabh Pant or Hanuma Vihari facing against some of the toughest test series players like Broad and Anderson on the pitch?

    It does, and it would even do when I was not a coach. When you see a young kid come through and perform the way they do, Rishabh does what he does or a Vihari did what he did, or young Khaleel Ahmed the other night. You know, you feel happy as a former cricketer because you have been through that before, you know what it is to be a young man and sort of starting your first steps in international cricket, it is not an easy time, it can be quite tough and can be quite difficult. To see some of them come through and the joy it brings to their faces and affects not only them but it affects their friends and so many things, it gladdens your heart so I might be a coach, but I am a fan in that sense of the word as well. When you see a young Indian talent come through, you feel good about it.

  • Do you sense Test batting, because of the way cricket is now, just stagnating or suffering a little bit?

    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, get a bit more challenging, whether it is swing or seam or spin or it could be anything. For example, we went to England on the A tour and some of the boys had not practiced with a red ball for seven months, because when the Ranji Trophy finished in December the teams which got knocked out early they had no chance because there was a domestic One-Day competition, there was a Mushtaq Ali followed by the IPL, so when we assembled in England they hadn't hit a red ball for seven months - now that is a long time. 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.

  • However would you like to see some sort of balance restored in favour of batsmen in Test match cricket, sometime now with the kind of batting performances we are seeing?

    I like challenging wickets, whether it does a bit of swing or seam or spins, I think that provides the most exciting Test match. I mean, even in England I know we lost 4-1 but 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 - every day you got up thinking, it was an exciting Test match day to be a part of. Look, I really enjoy that, I enjoy when the ball has a slight advantage over the bat and I think that produces better Test cricket.

  • Share us your view about Virat Kohli in terms of his decision in team selection.

    I think he is learning all the time. Captaincy is a lot about learning. There are a lot of positives, you know, what he has done. He definitely takes the game forward, he moves the game forward and he is definitely taking the team forward, no doubt about it. But like with anything else, captaincy, a lot is dependent on the performances of the team and the kind of team you are able to put together. So, I think he keeps improving, he keeps getting better, he keeps learning and I am sure that is what he wants to do with his captaincy. Captaincy is a little bit of luck as well. One of the things that he can really do is learn how to win the toss. You lose five out of five, that needs a bit of improvement - winning the toss! That is the tough part of captaincy, sometimes you need a few breaks, sometimes you want a little bit of luck to go your way, and it didn't seem to go his way in England.

  • Why did you always believe that there should be some solid practice before a Test match?

    Yeah, there should be, I mean I benefited a lot from it in my career, playing solid first-class games when I first started and when we went on tours it was a done thing that you practice and you play first-class cricket. It seems to happen less and less nowadays and not only for India however it is also less and less for any country. But, definitely something India needs to look into talking from an Indian perspective. But, even other teams need to co-operate on their behalf. For, example if Australia can guarantee India two solid practice games when we go there, we should be able to do the same for them when they come here. So, like anything else, it has to be reciprocal and we have to work with other boards because nobody wants to see one-sided overseas results, you want to see close, exciting Test matches.

  • How does a player pick the right time to retire?

    It's actually very hard to tell if there is such a thing as a right time. All your career, you're taught to never never give up. You're fighting, you keep improving, you always think you can sort out problems. I never thought about going out on a high or going out on a slump. A lot of people told me: "You will just know, Rahul, when the time is right." Obviously there are other things that come into consideration. Where you are in your life, where the team is at that point of time, what the future challenges are, how you fit into that. Even if someone doesn't tell you, you've been around long enough to know where you stand. There are the immediate challenges of tours like Australia and England, which you think are tough, and you want to try go there and make a difference. In the end it just comes down to knowing and being comfortable with it. And I just think, while I had been thinking about it, I was most comfortable doing it at this stage. If things had not gone well in England, maybe I would have been comfortable doing it then. Obviously after England, I felt I was in good form and that I needed to go to Australia, and I felt that it was going to be a tough tour and that it wouldn't be right to walk away after doing well in England… it may sound silly, but just wanting to finish on a high - that hadn't occurred to me, in the sense that I wanted to go when I was comfortable. There was a period in 2008, the end of 2008, when I was really struggling and not getting runs, and there was a lot of talk of me being dropped. If I had been dropped at that stage, I would've still continued to play first-class cricket. Not in the intention of trying to make a comeback - I know that if I had got dropped at 36 or 37, the likelihood of me making a comeback would have been very slim. I wouldn't have played for wanting to make comeback, but because I still wanted to just play the game. It was a game I loved and I still loved enjoying playing it. I probably would have continued playing Ranji Trophy at that stage. And how long that would have lasted, who knows.

  • What did you assess when making a decision to retire?

    It's a combination of things. The important thing to remember is how much are you contributing. That's a major factor. As you get older these things do come in, and that's why I said that England for me… it was important for me to keep contributing.

  • Did you ever think that retiring from cricket was a mistake?

    I think the best question someone asked me about this retirement thing is Eric Simons. I called him up and said, "Eric, I'm retiring." And Eric said, "When you made that decision, Rahul, did you feel relief or did you feel disappointment?" And I had never thought about it that way. It was a feeling of relief and I did feel it. I've not regretted it. I've lived this life for 20 years. I haven't regretted it and I hope it won't regret it, and I still can have a Twenty20 bash. I guess it's only in June, when I'll sit down and the Indian team will play another Test match again - I don't know, I might miss it. We miss a lot of things. We miss college, everyone wants to go back to Uni and live that life again, but you know that's not possible. Hopefully you move on. You will know that there are other things to do and other challenges.

  • What is it about life after cricket that you think a player fears the most?

    Each one has his own fears, when it's something you've done all your life. And when it's the only thing that you've known, it's almost like starting out fresh again. It's almost like going back to college, like going back to what you felt like when making a decision about whether you want to do commerce or engineering. The only problem is, you are doing it at 40 rather than at 17 or 18 and with skills you've worked on for 20 years at the exclusion of other skills. You have to start all over again. That, I think, in a lot of ways can be daunting to people, and it's not easy, especially, if I may say so, because you are used to competing and playing at an extremely high level. You pride yourself on a certain level of competence and a certain level of ability. Very rarely people can, I think, step out of something they've done for 23 years and attain the same standards in whatever they do. When you are used to playing at that top level, it's hard to accept that sometimes you have to settle for being second-best. I guess that's the way it's going to be. You can't expect a guy at 40-41 to become "world class" at something else.

  • How has the fitness part been working with you since the past two to three years and so on?

    I spent two-three years working with Paul Chapman, who was the strength and conditioning coach at the NCA and the NCA's physios and trainers, on raising the bar of my fitness. I was lucky that we had all those people there here. I saw in those physios and trainers and in Paul, a resource, really good professional people who could help me. And I sort of decided to utilise that completely. I did make a conscious effort to try and raise the bar of my fitness, because if I wanted to keep playing at this age, I didn't want any of the younger guys or people in the field to feel that I wasn't fit enough to be there. Sometimes performances you can or can't control, but fitness I think to a large extent you can control. I'm not saying you can control everything in fitness - there are a lot of guys who have injuries, who, whatever they do and whatever they try, sadly they can't do much about. But in most things, fitness and diet and stuff like that, you have responsibility over it. Performance… sometimes you practise and work hard and still things don't pan out. But fitness is a lot simpler. I said, "Look, I'll make an effort to be as fit as I've been. While I did try, it was hard to say I've been at my fittest. In some areas I was fitter than I was at 24-25 and in some areas I was not. But I'd like to believe that till I finished my career, I set a pretty high standard of fitness for myself and I didn't let anybody down in terms of the effort I put in in terms of my physical fitness.

  • Do you think it had a direct impact on your game in the last few years?

    It's hard to co-relate the two. You do perform better when you're fit, you do feel better about yourself, but it's hard to say. Even when I was doing badly in 2007-08, I was pretty fit. Was I really fitter in England last year than I was in 2007 when I was doing badly? Really, no. Probably I was fitter back then when I was in England, so no. Sometimes fitness is a good thing to have but you have to recognise that fitness takes you only so far, and skills are the most important thing. Fitness just helps you execute those cricketing skills for longer and more consistently maybe. If someone thinks, "I'll spend the off season working on my fitness and I'll come back a better cricketer," I don't think that's enough. You need to spend a lot of time working on your skills and honing your skills.

  • When cricketers go into their late 30s do they sense what the outside world observes as a fading of their skills?

    I didn't sense it like that personally… but maybe we are trained not to sense it, who knows? Maybe sometimes these things are better judged from outside. As a player you will never admit to weakness, to a slowing down of skills. You're not trained to admit these things. You have bad patches when you are 24-25, and it's only when you have bad patches after 35-36 that people say your skills are down, the eyesight is gone. Maybe it has not, maybe it has nothing to do with age and you're just going through bad form and you happen to be 35. After 35, I felt as fit in terms of physical fitness - if you judge fitness in terms of sprinting a distance, running a distance, whatever yo-yo tests we have and weights you lift - as I was when I was playing my best cricket, at 28-29. I was probably doing more in terms of some things now than I was when I was young. How do you judge eyesight? If you go to a doctor and ask him, he will you've still got 20-20 vision. Maybe [time] just wears you down - the travelling, the pressure, the dealing with expectations, those things slowly start chipping away, chipping away. It's hard to put a date to it and say, "Now it's started decreasing and now it has decreased." The best explanation I've heard for this is that mentally sometimes you are fresher when you are younger. You've not been worn down so much. So your response to defeat, failure, success, pressure is better. As you get older, the freshness gets lost, the sense of excitement. Like what you experience the first time you walk into Lord's. After you've been there three or four times, maybe that sense of wonder goes. That's the best explanation of why after a period of dealing with some of the same things, they become more difficult, rather than a fading of skill.

  • Did it matter a lot to you when caught out, bowled, stumped, run out, lbw, etc when you were on the field?

    I don't like getting out, period. How it happens is almost irrelevant. But yeah, obviously it happened a few times more than I would have liked, no doubt about it. The beauty of it is that now I don't have to worry about it. But those are challenges you face all your life. I think that is what differentiates people who play for long periods of time from others, because they keep getting asked questions. Top bowlers and top bowling attacks keep asking you different questions. For some, it is getting out in a particular way, for some it is the ability to play spin, for some to play pace. For some it is a different bowler, a unique angle, on a different wicket. These questions keep getting asked and you have to constantly keep coming up with answers. Most of the guys that I know who have played over a period of time have constantly been able to find answers to the questions that keep getting asked. You become a problem solver, a solution finder. I'd like to believe that if I had continued, I would hopefully have worked on this area [getting bowled] and got better at it.  

  • What were the methods you used when playing against spin bowlers like Murali and Shane Warne in your cricket career?

    No matter how much practice you have, these guys were great bowlers. They had variation, consistency, control. There were some great spinners during that time - Murali, Warne, and I was lucky to play with Anil and Harbhajan, two guys who bowled well for us. You had Saqlain, who bowled well against us in a couple of series. Daniel Vettori was extremely consistent; bowled good tight lines. So these guys were good. I like to believe we played some of the world's greatest spinners better than some of the other teams did. One of the things is that because we had so much practice, maybe we read some of these guys better. One of the things we did better was that whenever a bad ball was bowled, we were able to punish it, and we had the guys who had that skill. There was a certain amount of pressure on the spinners bowling at us, that they had to be at their A game all the time. And when they were at their A game, they knocked us over a few times, no doubt about it. But you had to be at your A game to do well against us, and you can't be at your A game all the time.

  • For a player playing on the field does Body language counts a lot during a national level cricket match?

    I feel now that now good body language is sometimes equated to being abusive or aggressive, and I think that that's not true. Each of us is different, and I think there's people who show more of their body language in a particular manner and that's what works for them, and fair enough, I'm not saying that that's wrong. Body language can mean different things. Just because someone is not over-the-top competitive doesn't mean he's not a good competitor. Or it doesn't mean he's not in for a fight. There are external people and internal people. It doesn't mean that people who are more internal are less aggressive. They can be as aggressive. Sometimes the toughest bowlers, I found, were always the guys who gave away nothing in terms of the way they thought - what got them angry, what got them frustrated. They were very, very hard guys, because you knew they were just focused on bowling and doing the best they could. Someone like McGrath, someone like Ambrose. When I played Ambrose, it was a great education for me. He never said a thing. I've never heard him speak; I don't know what he sounded like and I was on tour for four months. He gave you nothing. He pitched every ball on the spot, he was proud of his skill and his craft; he wanted to take wickets and he ran in with intensity. You knew that intensity, you could sense that intensity with them. They did it throughout the day without showing you much. There were a lot of guys who would shout, stare at you, swear. But you knew they did not have the stamina or the fitness to survive till the end of the day. You could tell that they were emotionally violent but that they would fade. Then there were people like Warne or Murali. Warne was dramatic but he was also incredibly aggressive. You knew that when he got the ball in the hand, he was going to come at you. I judge aggression on the way people perform. The bowlers I respected or feared or rated were not the ones who gave me lip or stared at me or abused me. More the ones who, at any stage of the game, when had they had the ball in hand, they were going to be at me and they were going to have the skill and the fitness and the ability to be aggressive.

  • What do you make of the general notion that struggling against fast bowling is worse than struggling against spin?

    I think that sort of thing is a throwback to the days when there was no helmet, so there was a fear of injury when facing fast bowling. People were scared, and everyone would have been scared, but I guess those who showed it were considered weaker and that was not considered good to be. Also, I think subcontinent tours in the old days were not considered the No. 1 tours - people didn't necessarily value their tours to the subcontinent as much as they valued tours to England, Australia or South Africa. That has changed now and it's pretty obvious that, with the kind of audience and support that cricket generates in this part of the world, a tour to this part of the world is extremely important now. Honestly, if you want to be a good batsman you have to prove yourself in all conditions. To say that it is okay to do badly in the subcontinent, to do badly against spin, is not acceptable anymore. It's slowly changing. When I look at the media in England, Australia, South Africa, in the past sometimes they would almost have a casual attitude to performances on subcontinent tours. They are also putting a lot more focus and emphasis on it now. When some of their players don't do well on the subcontinental tours, they get criticised and it gets pointed out and questioned, which is a good thing.

  • How would you like to describe your role as a captain for the Indian national team?

    I enjoyed the decision-making process in the middle. The actual captaincy side of things was good. I enjoyed being part of the process of trying to build a team, trying to be creative, to see how we could get the best out of players, see how we could win and compete with the resources we have. Those are sides of captaincy you enjoy. There were some good results. In the end you have to accept that you are judged a lot by the World Cup in India, whether you like it not. Obviously that World Cup didn't go well and didn't pan out the way I had hoped it would. So I guess it clouds a lot of what happened. But I think there were some good results and there were some tough times, like with a lot of captains, but the overriding impression that tends to stay is that World Cup. I'm not here to justify anything. I recognise that I always knew that was going to happen. That's the way it is.

  • Was captaincy something you were actually looking forward to doing?

    I was vice-captain for a long time and I was part of the process, so yes, I knew that if there was an injury or something that happened, I would be the next guy in charge. You're part of the management and decision-making process, you're contributing, you're ticking all the time, so you know you have to be ready. I also knew that me and Sourav were also of the same age and it might not happen. When it did happen, I was extremely keen and excited about trying to do a good job of it.

  • Do you think that captains can actually lose teams and that at one point you lost the team?

    Maybe it is. I don't know if you lose the team. You can lose players in your team and you have to try and fight and get them back sometimes. Or sometimes it's phases that players are themselves going through in their own careers that pushes them away from the team. In some ways so you can lose players. I don't think you can lose a team. Then there are times when you are making tough decisions about doing certain things that not everybody in the team likes. Then you need results to go your way. At a time like that, if results don't go your way then sometimes it becomes easy for people in and around the system to sometimes, I guess, pull in different directions. Eventually it does become about results. It's not all about results but results are incredibly important. And I think, specially as we've seen in India, results in big tournaments.

  • How do you look back at when you spoke to your teammates before your retirement from cricket?

    When I look at it in hindsight, I could have handled it better. I didn't want to make a fuss about it at that stage, and I think a lot of people got upset with me more about how I handled it rather than the decision in itself. So you learn from that, you learn from the mistakes. Maybe I could have handled it a bit better and done it in a better way than I did.

  • What is your response to the impact of Twenty20 cricket on Indian cricket?

    The reality is that when I grew up, playing Test cricket was the ultimate. It mattered professionally also in terms of making a living from this game, which does become important at some point. You had to play Test cricket consistently for a long time to do that. But now you don't need to play Test cricket. The advent of Twenty 20 and the IPL has meant that it is possible to make an extremely good living from the game without having to play Test cricket. In the past you had only the cream at the top who were making a good living, but now it's spread a lot more and you have a lot more people who make a very good living. It is one of the great positives of the T20 and the IPL. But there is obviously the danger that players might sell themselves short. If they face early stumbles or hurdles early on in their Test career or in first-class cricket, there might be a few who may choose to stick to T20 because they are better at it and they are making better money from it and they don't want to risk losing that. India will face this challenge a lot more because a lot more Indian players play in the IPL. So how we address that challenge and go out and make people and players value Test cricket - that will come down to scheduling. We have to schedule more Test matches per year. It will come down to compensation. You've got to compensate Test cricketers adequately now. It'll come down to marketing, how you market Test cricket, glorify its history. It'll come down to coaches at junior levels, how they talk to their wards, how they inspire them about Test cricket. It'll be about stories, it'll be about media. Everyone will have to play their part. There have been some good examples recently of people who have been good players in Twenty20 and have come out and done well in Test cricket. It's a good thing for kids to see that you can succeed in all three forms of the game. That's important. I have no doubt that a lot of the kids playing today in the one-day and Test side have grown up having Test cricketers to admire. But it's kids who are my children's age or a little older, who are now getting interested in the game for the first time and are seeing the IPL, it's those kind of children that we need to educate and talk to about Test cricket. The responsibility lies with the ICC and the boards to schedule enough Test matches. They might have to make a few sacrifices in terms of money. I have no doubt that if you play enough Test matches, kids will want to play it. People might not come to the grounds that easily, and that's why it's important to explore other avenues - whether it is day-night cricket, or venues where we play it, and the context of Test matches. We have to accept that people don't have the time, but there is still huge interest for Test cricket. People follow Test cricket, whether it's on television or the internet, in India as much as elsewhere. In the last few years in as much as there have been fears, the number of the articles that get written about Test cricket, the number of people who follow it passionately, who talk to me about Test cricket - that hasn't changed.

  • How must India handle the passing of a great generation of its Test players?

    At some stage there is going to be a whole new generation of players. I know there are always links between one generation of players and the others; there is always a middle-level of management - players who have been around and are still going to be around for a few years. Two or three guys might retire in the next couple of years, whenever that is, who knows? But after that there are going to be guys who are going to be around, and the responsibility is going to lie on these guys to step it up. Guys like Sehwag, Gambhir, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Dhoni himself. Not only as players but also as spokesmen. As people who decide the culture of the team, the way the team is run, the image they want to project of the team, regarding which form of the game is important to this team. It will be a group of players, who I think are already seniors, who will set the tone for the next generation coming through. That cycle goes on, that cycle will go on. It's got to move on from being the team that was led by my generation, which is already happening slowly and will continue to do so over the next few years. I'm not saying the seniors need to be replaced, they will be the sounding boards. But the direction and the culture of the team over the next ten years will have to be decided by this capable group of young players.

  • Are you worried about the Indian Cricket Team whether it will be a successful or a competitive team in all formats of Cricket game?

    I wouldn't say I'm worried. I would say there are challenges that Indian cricket faces today. Some of these are challenges that have always been there in the history of our game - whether it is finding good quality fast bowling allrounders or finding opening batsmen, or finding real fast bowlers. These challenges have to be addressed, and it's no point worrying. There are lots of positives about Indian cricket. It's going to be a whole new level of thinking, a whole new level of leadership, of thought, that is required. Like I said, of how the team is going to project itself. You can't just let things flow. If we just let things happen, they will happen. You might get lucky, you might suddenly find a brilliant player or a brilliant fast-bowling allrounder from somewhere, but there needs to be serious thought put into the way the team is and what is the way forward and how we want to see the Indian team, not today but ten years ahead. When we got together as a group of guys in 2000, it was important for me how the team was projected. We were going through a rough patch, we had come out of this match-fixing thing. We were always known as poor travellers. It was said we were scared of fast bowling, we were arrogant, rude, or that because of match-fixing you can't trust anyone. These were the things that you wanted to change. Ten years later, now there is another challenge. Each team has its own image; that's what you want to change. Maybe this team now has the image where it's said they are very good one-day players, they are not that good as Test players. You keep hearing talk around the place about what impact the IPL might have, how everyone will only want to play IPL and how it might affect our Test cricket. Hopefully these guys will go on challenge that notion, to show us that it is not the case.

  • What steps should be taken by the BCCI to admit more players from the Sub-Urban region in the Indian Cricket Team?

  • As a coach of the U-19 Indian Team, how do you motivate your players to play for Test cricket matches?

  • What were the 3 most important attitudes that you have learnt from your seniors at BUCC?

  • Would you like to open a cricket club of your own?

  • Are young cricketers interested in listening to their mentors?

  • During your international cricket career, did you come back to the BUCC to meet your cricket mentor?

  • What is the most interesting question that you have heard from a young cricketer?

  • How did you succeed in all three cricket formats during your international cricket career?

  • What was your favourite activity during a cricket match?

  • Whose balling delivery you faced was difficult to face it?

  • Why were you so serious throughout your cricket career?

  • How did you get into the habit of reading books?

  • Did reading books actually help you in real life?

  • Tell us more about your friendship with V. V. S. Laxman.

  • Can you share with us the moment when you drop a catch during your cricket match.

  • A day before a test match scheduled why do you keep yourself left undisturbed?

  • How do you maintain a positive image among your fans and people who follow you despite of certain failures in your cricket career?

  • Share with us your cricket moment when you got out in zero run.

  • How did you feel when Steve Waugh approached to you write the foreword to his autobiography?

  • How does it feel to be recognised as one of the greatest cricket players?

  • What were the goals that you had set for yourself when you began your cricket career?

  • What has your journey in cricket been like?

  • What has been your most cherished moment on the cricket field?

  • Who are the players that you like playing with and against on the cricket field?

  • How has cricket changed over the years since you started your career?

  • Which moments in your cricketing life did you enjoy the most as a coach?

  • What are your views on being portrayed by the media as a very serious personality?

  • Did the crazy amount of female fan following have an affect on your concentration? Are there any such stories that you would like to share with us?

  • You have been known to be an avid reader. How did that start?

  • Did reading actually help you in real life?

  • What mistake of yours disappointed you the most on the field?

  • How have you managed to keep your surroundings free of negativity?

  • The Australians are quite infamous when it comes to sledging their opponents. How was your experience regarding that?

  • Since you have had some good contests with the Australians, can you tell us which Australian player did you grow up admiring?

  • You have had 21 duck dismissals in your career. Which was the worst out of them?

  • How has the coaching experience been for you?

  • What kind of questions do you get from the youngsters in your team?

  • Cricket has changed a lot ever since you made your debut. What are your views?

  • You hold the record for the most catches by a non wicket keeper. Did taking catches come to you naturally or did you practice a lot to perfect that skill?

  • Which fast bowler did you struggle to play against the most?

  • How different is the new generation from yours?

  • What advice do you have for young cricketers who focus solely on making a career out of the IPL instead of trying to represent India in Test Cricket and ODIs?

  • What kind of impact has the oversaturation of cricket had on education among the younger generation?

  • Is proper education necessary for a long lasting cricketing career?

  • What do you miss the most about cricket?

  • Would you want your children to get involved in sports?

  • Which teammate of yours surprised you the most since their retirement?

  • What are your views on Day/Night Test match cricket?

  • How was it to bat with Sachin Tendulkar?

  • There are people from the older generation who don’t think T20 is cricket and count it as a different sport in all togetherness. What are your views on that?

  • Did you ever think that T20 Cricket would become so big in the future when it was first introduced?

  • Are you comfortable with the “intellectual” tag which you acquired over your playing career?

  • What was your escape from cricket?

  • How did you control your temper on the field?

  • How was it to be the captain and how did the decision to resign as the captain come about?

  • How has the interaction among players changed over the years as compared to your generation?

  • Why was it that you were mostly seen to be fielding at the Slips?

  • How does it feel to be inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame?

  • How has cricket affected your life?

  • What have been the most cherished moments of your career?

  • How much has the game changed ever since you started playing?

  • How much has the game changed ever since you started playing?

  • What do you enjoy the most about this current coaching chapter of your life?

  • What are your views on teams that depend on just two or three superstars to win a game for them?

  • Do you think there is a cultural gap in cricket?

  • Did you ever feel like calling it quits on your career because of some event that disappointed you immensely?

  • What role does family play in a career such as yours?

  • Did your parents ever discourage you from choosing cricket as a career?

  • Did you ever feel that you were missing out on the little things in life by focusing solely on cricket?

  • How did you handle the highs and lows in your career?

  • How you did feel when your IPL side the Rajasthan Royals were found guilty of match fixing?

  • What are your views on cricketers nowadays playing unorthodox shots compared to how your generation could never even think of pulling off such risky techniques?

  • What adjustments did you find difficult to get used to and how important was versatility to your success as a batsman?

  • Of all the players that you have watched, who reminds you of yourself?

  • Did you follow your own career and looked at the stats as they kept building up?

  • How did you deal with adversity?

  • How do you manage to stay so humble even after being so famous?

  • Which compliment made you particularly happy about your performance?

  • If you had a choice to be born again as a professional cricketer, who would you choose and why?

  • If you had the power to change one thing about cricket now, what would you change?

  • What can be done to make cricket more popular outside India to generate an even bigger fan following?

  • Do you think there will be another Rahul Dravid?

  • How important are the other aspects of cricket besides batting and bowling?

  • You have had so many innings where you stayed on the pitch for a huge amount of time. How do you build up the concentration to do so?

  • Did you ever feel overshadowed or feel like you weren’t being appreciated enough?

  • Do you regret any decision that you made as a captain which might have been seen as controversial?

  • Which was the toughest period in your career? How did you deal with it?

  • You say no to an honorary doctorate degree and are built up to be this pillar of virtue. Did you wonder why people made such a big deal of it?

    I don’t get to see or hear many of these things that are necessarily said about me. People do say “oh you know, there’s been a great reaction”. I’m like ‘I don’t know’ other than reading the odd paper. It’s sometimes more of a big deal for people around me. I don’t feel the hype because I’m not a regular on social media sites or someone who follows everything that is written about me. I think if you’re an actor, then you need to be in that space. As a former cricketer or a coach, it doesn’t matter that much. And again, I’m not trying to do this because I’m trying to live up to some level of virtue. That’s incredibly dangerous. Not dangerous, but I’ve not gone around saying that. The thing about the doctorate is that my mom did her PhD and earned a doctorate at the age of 55. My wife’s a surgeon who studied seven years to get a degree in surgery. And I’ve always felt that if it was something I wanted, I would like to have earned it. I don’t mean that anyone else should have that feeling and I’m not trying to belittle anyone else. It’s just that I felt that way because of my own experiences. And it’s not the first time that people have asked me to become a doctorate. It’s just that it’s happened privately and over an email exchange. And before it’s been announced, I have declined it politely even then. It so happened that this unfortunately came out in public.

  • Before you actually retired, was there a time in your career that you were so totally fed up that you actually wanted to throw it all away?

    Obviously the period just after the World Cup when we lost, in 2007, was difficult. It was the first phase in my career other than the first couple of years when I was establishing myself, that I got dropped from the one-day side. Other than that I had a pretty smooth run for a long time. That was tough in terms of some of my performances, that whole period, 2007-08, getting knocked out of the World Cup and not performing so well after I gave up the captaincy for a while. I think that was a really hard period, when I questioned myself a lot and wondered whether it had all just disappeared and gone away. I thought I'd really had a good run and I could have walked away in 2008 and felt pretty comfortable with what I had done and achieved, and I wouldn't have regretted it at all. Because I've always tried to do my best - you've always got to try to be the best you can be and hope that the results fall your way. If it hadn't worked out, it hadn't worked out. But I was lucky to get a chance to play a couple of years of cricket.

  • Indian batsmen are groomed to be able to play against spin bowling from the moment they pick up the sport. How did you tackle spinners such as Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne?

    No matter how much practice you have, these guys were great bowlers. They had variation, consistency, control. There were some great spinners during that time - Murali, Warne, and I was lucky to play with Anil and Harbhajan, two guys who bowled well for us. You had Saqlain, who bowled well against us in a couple of series. Daniel Vettori was extremely consistent; bowled good tight lines. So these guys were good. I like to believe we played some of the world's greatest spinners better than some of the other teams did. One of the things is that because we had so much practice, maybe we read some of these guys better. One of the things we did better was that whenever a bad ball was bowled, we were able to punish it, and we had the guys who had that skill. There was a certain amount of pressure on the spinners bowling at us, that they had to be at their A game all the time. And when they were at their A game, they knocked us over a few times, no doubt about it. But you had to be at your A game to do well against us, and you can't be at your A game all the time.

  • Which aspects of captaincy did you enjoy the most?

    I enjoyed the decision-making process in the middle. The actual captaincy side of things was good. I enjoyed being part of the process of trying to build a team, trying to be creative, to see how we could get the best out of players, see how we could win and compete with the resources we have. Those are sides of captaincy you enjoy. There were some good results. In the end you have to accept that you are judged a lot by the World Cup in India, whether you like it not. Obviously that World Cup didn't go well and didn't pan out the way I had hoped it would. So I guess it clouds a lot of what happened. But I think there were some good results and there were some tough times, like with a lot of captains, but the overriding impression that tends to stay is that World Cup. I'm not here to justify anything. I recognise that I always knew that was going to happen. That's the way it is.

  • If you were ever invited into the dressing room of the national side to a make a speech, what would you say to them?

    I wouldn't go in! I don't think I was good at speeches, even as captain. The people who inspired me and mattered most to me and whom I looked up to were people who actually walked the talk. Who didn't necessarily speak a lot but you knew that they put in 100% - what they did was an example more than what they said. I did say a few things but I don't think I was the guy who gave a lot of speeches. So, well, if I did go into the dressing room again, I would just tell them that it's their time now, my time has passed.

  • Did you have any superstitions while playing?

    Not really a superstitious person but I did put on my right pad first. Started as a habit – tendency was to go down first on my left knee and put on right pad first. But not really a superstition.

  • What is the most memorable headline about you that you remember from your career?

    ‘Dravid helps St. Joseph’s win title’. I think that’s one of the earliest in my career but first time your name comes in the paper, you remember it. I was all excited about it and hope they get the spelling right. A lot of times in my early career, a lot of the reports said ‘David’ while the scoreboard would say ‘Dravid’.

  • Which batsman from the past would you have liked to partner up with?

    I would have loved to have partnered Sunil Gavaskar. And hopefully Gavaskar would have gotten out and GR Viswanath would have walked in. That would be cool. They were my childhood heroes growing up.

  • How did wicket keeping come to you even though you never kept wickets for Karnataka?

    I used to keep at the Under 15 level and after that I stopped. Actually, I was getting selected in the Senior Age group teams, which were above my age and that too as a batsman and not as a Keeper. I sort of, after that, left Keeping as I was getting opportunities only as a pure batsman. I just started focusing on getting runs and on close-in fielding from there onwards. Leading into the 2003 World Cup, we recognized that we did not have a good all-rounder at that stage. So Sourav, John Wright and myself decided that we will try out this option. I had kept wickets in the past whenever there was an injury to the premier Keeper, I would just fill in. I always had good hands, so it wasn’t a bad option. As a Keeper, my main problem was my feet movement because I wasn’t a regular keeper and I had not done it for close to 13-14 years. We had a bit of success as a team with this option and I worked hard on my physical fitness that year. Physical fitness that was required for a Keeper, all I had done and taking some extra drills with John Wright. It did work out although it was tough, giving us some success and we ran it as long as it went. But I think after people like Dhoni and stuff had come in, you recognize the need to have a regular guy behind the stumps.

  • Which ground was your favourite to bat in?

    Favourite ground…it’s Lord’s where I had made my Test Debut. I just love the ground, I also like the Eden Gardens as well where I have been very successful, so always enjoyed playing there.

  • What are the reasons for the decline in Test batsmanship?

    Batsmanship comprises of many things. If you were to view it from the prism of shot-making ability, innovation, power, ability to hit sixes and scoring at a quicker rate, then there is no doubt batsmanship has improved. [But], if you view it from the prism of batting time, being able to get through challenging times and being able to play on tracks on which seam or spin is more, then maybe batsmanship has declined a little bit. Players now have to juggle between three formats and may not be getting to have as much red ball time and conditions.

  • With so much cricket, pressure and competition for spots, do teams require a mental conditioning coach?

    I have had experience with sports psychologists. There is a lot of discussion on the same in the NCA on how we can integrate some things, and I see value in it. But, some of these things are best done on a one-on-one basis rather [than in] a team environment. Having someone whom players can access is important. Finding the right person is also important. In fact, sports psychologists should work with coaches. Coaches interact with players a lot.

  • What kind of a role does failure play in life?

    Learning to fail well is important. When cricketers fail they blame the umpires, the coaches, the weather, the pitch or their luck. They try to brush the real issues under the carpet and refuse to address them. But people who fail well would look into every failure as an opportunity to grow. It is those who learn to fail well who will eventually succeed and make it to the top. Most of the time, players get depressed when they fail and feel happy when they succeed. Their moods go up and down but the need of the hour is about striking a balance. This helps you both in cricket and in life.

  • Do you think young players are being influenced by their agents who focus more on making them a brand face rather than letting them focus on cricket?