Spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Saturday defended the decision to rest Indian head coach Rahul Dravid, saying that physical and mental burnout ahead of and during the ICC T20 World Cup is the reason why India has a completely different team and coaching staff for the New Zealand tour.
The current head of National Cricket Academy (NCA) and former Indian batter VVS Laxman is the head coach of the Indian squad led by all-rounder Hardik Pandya that does not feature seniors like regular captain Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami and Ashwin himself. “I will explain why Laxman has gone there with a completely different team because even that could be interpreted differently,” Ashwin was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo on his YouTube channel.
“Rahul Dravid and his team put in extensive hard work ahead of the T20 World Cup – right from planning. Since I saw this from close quarters, I am saying this. They had specific in-depth plans for each venue and each opposition. So they would have been under not only mental but also physical burnout, and everyone needed a break. As soon as the New Zealand series ends, we have the Bangladesh tour. That is why we have a different coaching staff led by Laxman for this tour,” he added.
India was a semifinalist in the recently-concluded ICC T20 World Cup in Australia and went down to champions England in the second SF. They ended the campaign with four wins and two losses.
Ashwin’s comments come after former India head coach and Dravid’s predecessor Ravi Shastri had questioned the need for rest for the head coach when they get it during “two-three months” of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“I do not believe in breaks,” Shastri had said during a press interaction ahead of the first T20I between India and New Zealand in Wellington. “Because I want to understand my team, I want to understand my players and I want to then be in control of that team.
“These breaks… what do you need that many breaks for, to be honest?. You get your two-three months of the IPL; that is enough for you to rest as a coach. But other times, I think a coach should be hands-on – whoever he is,” Shastri had said.
Dravid was rested during a tour of Zimbabwe as well earlier this year. Before that, he and other senior players were part of the separate camp that went to England for playing the rescheduled fifth and final Test against England while VVS along with a second-string squad went for two-match T20I series in Ireland.
In October, when India’s T20 World Cup was preparing in Australia, a set of different players featured in the ODI series against South Africa. On all occasions, Laxman had filled in for Dravid as a coach.
India’s tour of New Zealand features three T20Is and three ODIs, the last of which will be played on November 30. Four days later, they will be in Bangladesh, with Dravid will be back at the helm, for a series that involves three ODIs and two Tests.