New Delhi,August 17:Former Indian captain and coach of India Rahul Dravid has had his fair share of failures in a career spanning over 16 years but he always learnt very quickly to rectify any deficiencies in his technique.
He was probably one of the most technically correct players India produced over the years after Sunil Gavaskar.
Dravid, one of the most dependable of players explores India's recent nemesis of playing spin, how Test cricket was the most valued possession in the years gone by and the importance of back lift while trying to cope with the very best in bowling.
India going down to spin in the recent years has not been a surprise. In 2012, English spinners Graeme Swann Swann and Monty Panesar went through the Indian batting line-up by picking up 37 wickets among themselves which was followed by a dismal show against England where the visitors gave away as many as 8 wickets to the part-timer Moeen Ali at Southampton.
Nathan Lyon did his bit in undressing the Indian batting order at Adelaide Oval and did so the entire series where the offspinner scalped 23 wickets.
And the latest addition to the list is Rangana Herath who picked up seven wickets in the second innings of Galle Test to take the game away from the Indians.
Dwelling on India's vulnerabilty of playing spin in recent years, Dravid said, "Playing spin was one of our big strengths. What can happen is that when you are with an international team you are not getting to play a lot of spin bowling in matches. Perhaps the pitches in India have changed."
"Good footwork certainly helps, but different players can play spin differently. Even in the team that I played, Laxman for example, would use his feet, but not that much. He had great reach and used the depth of the crease well. He didn't have a sweep shot, but had a great on-drive. Sehwag used his feet against spin a lot more than some of us. Ganguly stepped down to the left-arm spinner whenever he could. It always helps to have a sweep shot," Dravid emphasized.
May be the present crop of players are not showing enough respect to the spinners early on that eventually leads to their downfall.
Dravid answers in the affirmative by stating, "You need to be a bit more patient against spin. People now want to dominate the spinner from the beginning. Sometimes we need to give the ball the respect it deserves."
He also goes on to add about India's lack of quality in producing good spinners at the domestic level.
"You still have the odd good spinner in domestic cricket, but the numbers have dipped. The top four spinners are good but we had a lot more spinners in the domestic scene then. Maybe, domestically, our batsmen are not getting exposed to quality spin bowling. Wickets have improved in India too. I have played on some absolute turners." said the former India captain.
Dravid also threw some light on the problems plaguing the current players where most of them are struggling on lively pitches or in alien conditions.
"You are seeing a lot of results in Tests. People are playing more aggressively. The flip side of that is, sometimes, on tricky wickets where there is seam and swing or turn, you get found out. Generally, very rarely do you get seaming or turning wickets in international cricket these days. Most wickets are flat. If you see a difficult wicket, you should have a certain level of personal pride to perform. If you have that you will practice for it. To succeed in any form of the game, your game has to be built around your defence. It then expands from there," asserts Dravid.
And to add to that the advent of T20 cricket has also played its part in trying to push aside Test match cricket.
"To be a successful Test cricketer was our primary focus then. Now you can easily make a living without being a Test cricketer. Maybe the incentive is not there anymore. Then it boils down to personal pride, getting satisfaction in succeeding in all and the most difficult of conditions," argues the coach of India A team.
But whether it is T20 or Test match cricket, good footwork is essential to succeed in any form of cricket and Dravid goes on to explain further.
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