The Supreme Court appointed CoA (Committee of Administrators) chief Vinod Rai recently proposed the name of India U19 and India A coach Rahul Dravid for the prestigious Dronacharya Award.
However, this has not gone down well with some Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials, as they feel that many other coaches who have worked with the U19 players since their childhood are more eligible for the award than Rahul Dravid. They feel that handing this award to Rahul Dravid makes the contribution of childhood coaches of players like Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, lesser in value.
Speaking to CricketNext, a senior BCCI official said, “The BCCI has always recognized and appreciated the immense contribution of Dravid. He was the anchor for the Indian batting line-up for years altogether, perfectly complimenting the other greats of his era whose contributions have also been always recognized and appreciated by the BCCI. They were players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan and many more. For playing the game with the excellence that they did, they were awarded by the Government of India as well with awards such as the Arjuna Award, Padma Shri, Khel Ratna and even the Bharat Ratna.”
The official felt that while Dravid’s contribution to Indian cricket is incomparable, to hand him an award that is designated for coaches would be clearly unfair on those who handpicked these kids and spent hours to fine tune their skills and made them champion players.
He also said that Rai’s nomination of Dravid just three years into coaching sets a wrong precedent.
The official further said, “When we speak strictly in terms of the Dronacharya Award, even a great player has to compete not on the basis of his performance as a player but solely on the basis of his performance as a coach. Not even as a mentor but as a coach. Each of the players playing in the U-19 World Cup have been coached through their childhood by a coach, at the state level by coaches at the U-14, U-16 and the U-19 levels. It was on the basis of those performances that those boys even made it to the India U-19 team. Would it be fair to ignore the immense hard-work and contribution put in by those coaches that has culminated in great performances? The key question would be whether the Dronacharya Award is given for coaching the boys or to guide them in a tournament?”
“The contributions of a Tarak Sinha or an AN Sharma or many such others who toil at the grass-root level, to the field of coaching are honestly much greater than that of Dravid at this juncture. Dravid may surpass all of them but at this point in time I sincerely feel he has not done enough. It will become clear if you even peruse the criteria for the Dronacharya award. I think the CoA has been unfair to put Dravid’s name in the hat when as per the criteria of the award, he does not qualify. One can understand the love that the CoA may have for the stars of the game but as administrators, one has to respect the foundation more than the façade,” he explained.
Another BCCI official echoed the sentiments and quoted the guidelines of the award and said: "As per the guidelines, for cricket and indigenous games, not included in Olympic / Asian Games / Commonwealth Games disciplines, the selection committee will take into consideration the individuals performances / contribution of the sportspersons/coaches. In case of lifetime contribution in coaching, the selection committee will give its recommendations for such two coaches taking into consideration the contribution made by them over a period of 20 years or more in terms of producing outstanding sports-persons."
Rahul Dravid started off as a mentor for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League season 2014 and then moved on to become the India U19 and India A coach in 2015. Under his tutelage, the India U19 team won the Youth World Cup in New Zealand earlier this year. Interestingly, it is believed that BCCI secretary Amitabh Chaudhary signed the nomination before it was sent forward.