Tale of a Keeper
When we read the words ‘great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves; along with many other inspirational leaders of the world, Sourav Ganguly’s name also pops up in our head. The Maharaja of Indian cricket, fondly known as Dada. He has shown the whole world some interesting attributes of an inordinate trailblazer many times during his tenure as skipper of the Indian cricket team.
Skipper convinced the keeper
Sourav Ganguly’s confidence in the capabilities of his teammates has reminisced. It helped many stalwarts of Indian cricket who played in the team led by Dada. As shared by Rahul ‘The Wall’ Dravid in one of his recent interviews about his journey of becoming the wicket-keeper of the team on the insistence of Sourav Ganguly.
Dravid was one dependable player who has batted in the top and middle-order innumerable times in the nineties. Those were the days of the late nineties when Dravid has to pitch in as the backup wicket-keeper. It was when the regular keeper Nayan Mongia got injured. With an average of 60.40 and scoring 302 runs while keeping six matches; Dravid displayed a decent performance to support the team.
However, he was not very happy about his presence behind the stumps. Many other specialists like Nayan Mongia, MSK Prasad, Sameer Dighe, Deep Dasgupta, Vijay Dahiya, Saba Karim & Ajay Ratra were got the chance as a wicket-keeper in the Indian team. They were all specialists who can render their support in batting as well but cannot match the dependency attribute of Dravid.
On the other hand, it was around 2002, when Dravid was trying to keep up his scores with a strike rate of 66.61 but with the admission of many young promising batsmen in the team, his place as No. 3 batsman in the team was getting jitters. The selectors were keeping a keen eye over the structure of the team for the upcoming 2003 World cup. This is the stint when the risk-taking predisposition of Dada came in light. He placed the question in front of Dravid about donning the wicket keeping gloves as a regular for the team.
Mr. Dependable takes up the challenge
Dravid knew he was not a natural wicket-keeper and looked quite uneasy behind the stumps. His footwork qualified him as the slip fielder but is nowhere matching the skilled footwork of a keeper. However, Sourav persuaded him with the idea that if he takes up the role of a keeper, the Indian team can utilize the prospect to incorporate seven batsmen in the squad. This extra batsman can certainly strengthen the batting line-up for the Indian team.
Sourav has to sell off this idea of Dravid stepping up as the keeper to the selectors as well who somehow took it by the words of the skipper. The professionalism of Dravid came to light when he took up this challenging role. He worked hard to prove his skills. Keeping the wicket while spinners taking a dig at the ball was the hardest for Dravid. He tried his best to justify his dual role in the team.
Results outweigh the risk
However, the confidence showed by Sourav in Dravid yielded indirect results when the increased fitness level due to regular wicket keeping helped him to sore his average as a batsman. The Indian team also benefited from the long trail of batsmen in scoring big scores in the next few years. It can term as one of the many incidents when Ganguly displayed his abilities to lead the Indian squad aptly.