Off The Field

‘I Never Say Dada Made this Team’: Suresh Raina on Rahul Dravid’s Contribution to Team India

Written by Vipin Darwade

Suresh Raina is out with his autobiography ‘Believe’ where he talks about different aspects of his life, and also narrates some incidents which are hard to believe. In the book he also talked about one aspect where everyone thinks that MS Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly built the team,but instead it was Rahul Dravid.

“Rahul Bhai was always like family. He would keep fighting for the rights of the junior players. Those extra efforts always matter and leave an impact on people. Youngsters were very important to him. Look at the kind of players who matured under him—the ones that went on to lead India over the next decade. These included M.S. Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Yuvraj, Piyush Chawla, Dinesh Karthik, Munaf Patel, S. Sreesanth and myself. Rahul Bhai knew that these seven or eight boys would be the face of the team in the coming years. And he made sure that we were nurtured well,” he wrote in his autobiography, excerpt of which was published in The Print.

“Generally, when people talk about the Indian cricket team that has emerged over the last 10–15 years, the credit is usually given to Dhoni, or to Ganguly before him, for having built the team and taken Indian cricket forward. I have never quite agreed with that. I never say Dada made this team. He, and Dhoni, did lead and make an impact on it, that’s true. But the man responsible for making the teams for all three formats of the game is Rahul Dravid.

Raina very clearly mentioned that, “Rahul Bhai would often fight with selectors to include young talent in the Indian team. And one advice he would keep giving us was that we should go back to playing Ranji Trophy whenever possible, perform well and score heavily there, and then come and play for the Indian team again. He was an extremely match-oriented coach and player that way. He would himself keep playing multiple matches for his state in the Ranji Trophy. In fact, when we would practise at the NCA, I heard him complain a couple of times; he told us that we should instead be playing Ranji Trophy matches.”

Raina also narrated an incident where Dravid gave a piece of his mind to the youngster for wearing a particular t-shirt. “He was also particular about how we carried ourselves as cricketers. Rahul Bhai looked at playing for India as an honour. And he always believed that, as representatives of our country, we should be mindful of what we wear and how we present ourselves. There was this one occasion where I was guilty of crossing that line, unintentionally.

“We were in Malaysia for a tri-series involving the West Indies and Australia. I walked into some shop in a mall and bought a new T-shirt. I was very happy with my purchase and walked out wearing it before bumping into Rahul Bhai. The T-shirt was a branded one: it had ‘FCUK’ written in bold letters right across the middle. I really had no idea what it meant or what it could be perceived as. I just liked how it looked on me.

“Rahul Bhai gave me a proper dressing down right there in the mall. ‘Do you know what you are wearing and walking around in? You are an Indian cricketer. You cannot be out in public with that written on your T-shirt,’ he said. I had no answer. I tried explaining to him that I didn’t know it had a bad connotation. I was so taken aback and scared that I immediately went to the restroom, changed into something else and threw that T-shirt in the bin.”

About the author

Vipin Darwade