Talking about the vigours of today's game, Dravid said while the T20 format has its challenges, Tests remain the toughest trial of a player's ability to handle pressure. "
Rahul Dravid has no qualms conceding that he wouldn’t “survive” international cricket of today by batting at the pace he did at his prime but neither does he believe that defensive technique will become redundant even though the “value is decreasing”. Dravid said the likes of Virat kohli and Rohit Sharma “have blown the ODI paradigm to an all new level” but a Cheteshwar Pujara will also always be needed in Test cricket. As for himself, he doesn’t mind being called defensive as he always wanted to be a Test player.
“If it meant occupying the crease for a long time or tiring the bowlers out or blunting out the new ball in difficult conditions so that it’s easier to play later, I did it,” Dravid said on ESPNCricinfo’s Videocast with former India player Sanjay Manjrekar. “I saw that as my job and took great pride in it…That doesn’t mean I didn’t want to bat like Virendra Sehwag and hit those shots but may be my talent were different. My talent was determination and concentration and I worked on that,” he added.
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The former captain also pointed out that with more than 300 ODIs under his belt, he wasn’t just there to guard the wicket either. “Of course I wouldn’t have survived today if I batted the way I did in my days. Look at the strike rates today. While my strike rate in ODI cricket weren’t up to the level of Sachin’s or Viru’s but that’s the level that we played at back then,” he said.
“Obviously I can’t compare myself to Kohli or Rohit Sharma because they have blown the ODI paradigm to an all new level. But to be fair I grew up wanting to be a Test player,” he asserted. While cricket has become a high-scoring game, Dravid said defensive batting is what helps one survive tough bowling spells and conditions in the format which remains the pinnacle of the game.
“I think the value is decreasing but you still need to be able to defend your wicket. See, today don’t really need to be a Test cricketer to make a living. You can make a career in T-20 or ODI and easily survive without a defensive technique,” he pointed out.
“A generation ago, you had to be a Test cricketer to make a living. Many players today have a good defense technique whether it’s Kohli, (Kane) Williamson or (Steve) Smith. “Defensive technique is meant to help you survive or play out those difficult periods of the game … And the very best players of Test cricket are be able to do that.”
Talking about the vigours of today’s game, Dravid said while the T20 format has its challenges, Tests remain the toughest trial of a player’s ability to handle pressure. “… if you’re talking about pressure as a whole, the fact is that you have to play for five days in a Test Match. There is no running away from that.
“In any other format you can get away, but in a Test Match you go out and bat, then you watch you team bat then you watch the opposition bat and you have a lot of time to think. So I think pressure in a Test match is at a different level,” he explained. Dravid also said that the shortest format is more forgiving of weaknesses in technique compared to Tests. “…in T-20 format you can get away with a lot more. But if you have glaring weaknesses you cannot survive in Test cricket. In a T-20 format you have a specific role, and if you can perform well in that role you can be successful,” the 47-year-old said.
But despite the easy money on offer in T20s, Dravid does not believe that the number of players who want to appear in all formats of the game is shrinking every year. “One of the great things for India is that Virat Kohli values Test Cricket. He is always talking about it … and I think that’s a great role model for our young cricketers.
“I work with a lot of younger players. And when they start off their heroes are Kohli or Kane Williamson or Smith. They want to play all the formats of the game,” he said.
“But some of the less talented or less skillful players realise that its difficult to break into a team with Kohli or Pujara or (Ajinkya) Rahane. But they know that if they practice their white ball cricket, they can definitely get into an IPL team and make a living,” he added.
Speaking of Pujara, Dravid was effusive in his praise for the reticent Test specialist. “Coming from a place like Saurashtra it was drilled into his head early on that he needed to do much more than other players. So he had to make every inning count and that’s the way he has built his batting,” he said of the player often compared to him.
“He has got a range of shots and he knows that. He is exceptional against spin, he rotates strikes well. Pujara has worked out his game phenomenally well. His concentration is excellent. “There will always be a place for a person like Pujara because his technique will always contribute to the winning of a game,” he added.