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Dravid: If only 350-plus wickets were good wickets, why do we have bowlers here?

Last updated on 21 Oct 2023 | 02:13 PM
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Dravid: If only 350-plus wickets were good wickets, why do we have bowlers here?

The Indian head coach disagreed with the rating structure of the ICC and added that wickets needed to be judged more from a skills perspective

India nailed down Australia and Pakistan on completely contrasting wickets in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup in Chennai and Ahmedabad respectively, but the International Cricket Council (ICC) rated both wickets as 'average'. Indian spinners came into play in both games, and India secured comfortable victories, which later led to the team management praising the wickets. 

When Rahul Dravid was offered the same question about the ratings given to the wickets on which India secured victories, the Indian coach clearly disagreed with the rating, adding that bowlers play a big part in the match and only rating batting-friendly wickets as good; we are doing a disservice to the bowlers.

“If you only want to see 350 games and rate only those wickets as good, then I disagree with that,” Dravid said in the pre-match press conference in Dharamsala. “I think you have to see different skills on display as well. It's not about if we wanted to see only 4’s and 6’s being hit; then we have T20 wickets as well, where, honestly, in Delhi or in Pune, probably 350-plus wickets as well. Only those are good wickets, then why are the bowlers here? Why have spinners at all, for that matter? If you all want spinners to come in and bowl 10 - 60 and go, you can watch fours and sixes and one ball spins or two balls spin, and you rate that as average.

“I disagree with that because I think we should see all skills on display, the ability to rotate strike through the middle. See the quality of watching Jadeja bowl or a Santner bowl or Zampa bowl or watching Kane Williamson rotate the strike through the middle, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul the way they batted against Australia. Those are skills as well. Those also need to come out and be shown and be displayed.

“Some of the wickets, even we have played, I mean, honestly, in Delhi and Pune, rotating the strike in the middle overs wasn't necessarily a very difficult skill. The contest was about who could hit more 4’s and 6’s. So that's not the only way, in my opinion, respectfully, to be able to judge wickets. I think we need to have a better way of deciding what is good and average.

“So, I give you an example. I mean, we were, So I don't know what the rating was for those wickets, but we played the T20 World Cup in Australia. In Perth, we played a game 138 plays 138. India plays South Africa, seaming and swinging all over the place. That's a T20 game. I don't know what rating was given to that. I hope - maybe I hope that was rated average as well,” Dravid added.

In the Bangladesh encounter, KL Rahul showed an exhibition of wicket-keeping with a diving catch to his left that would have a fair amount of replay. Rahul was extremely good in judging the length of the bowlers, easing the concern of team management. Rahul Dravid was all praise for the Karnataka man.

“It's certainly not easy and I think he is doing a fantastic job of it. I thought Rahul's really kept superbly in this tournament and then batted really well whenever he's got the opportunity to do that, especially in the first game. But yeah, I think it is challenging because for someone like him who, and having had that experience myself, he's not someone who keeps regularly at all. 

“But he's probably kept a little bit more than I have. As a youngster, he probably kept up to his under-19 days, and he's kept in a few T20 games, as well, for Karnataka and all that. So, he kept a little bit more than I did, but certainly not easy, considering he was also out with injury for four or five months. 

“When we first decided that he would keep and we wanted to have that kind of option with him as one of the options of being able to keep in and bat in the middle order and we thought we would build him up to this tournament by giving him game time and building him up. But unfortunately, due to his injury, he actually couldn't keep for a while.

“But the way he's come back, the way he's worked hard, even in his injury, he worked really hard. When he started getting back to skills, spent a lot of time with the wicket-keeping, worked really hard on it.”

Hardik Pandya’s injury in the Bangladesh game has brought a new headache for India. Not only did the all-rounder provide a great lower-order batting option, but his absence has now caused a big combination problem as well. Dravid, however, decided to keep his mouth shut and not give too away about the predicted XI for the Sunday clash.

“Without going into too much of specifics, and it's hard to go into a lot of specifics in a PC, but yeah, I mean, Shardul clearly, his role was to be that kind of bowling all-rounder for us, you know, in the games that he played. In the games that he played, we saw him as someone who certainly has a happy knack of taking wickets as we have seen and then bowling those middle overs for us and being like a fourth seeming option for us on certain wickets which would probably require that fourth seeming option.

“And plus, obviously, he hasn't had a chance to really bat a lot over the last bit. But certainly, he's been working very hard in the nets with his batting. And we've been working very hard on it. We've seen that he has the ability to hit some big shots and play some good shots. Of course, we've seen it more probably in Test cricket, not so much in one-day cricket as yet, because he has not had the opportunity to bat much. But certainly, that was the kind of role he fitted in for us in that bowling all-rounders role.

“Obviously, with Hardik not being there and Hardik being one of those four seamers, we'll just have to see with the combination we can go with. We certainly can go with, obviously, the three fast bowlers or the three spinners. With that kind of combination, we still could play him and play Ash and move Jadeja up.

“Many different, different permutations and combinations. I wouldn't want to give too much away. I mean, we are pretty clear on what our playing 11 is tomorrow. But I wouldn't want to be giving too much away. But yeah, I think there are different, different combinations we could come up with. Obviously the three seamers, having someone like Shami sitting out there and bringing him in this game is a great option. In some cases, there is Ashwin who has obviously been sitting out, who has great quality as well. So, there are two or three combinations we could use considering this till Hardik gets back,” the Indian coach added.

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