Suresh Raina has acknowledged the contribution of ex-India captain Rahul Dravid in building Indian cricket in his autobiography 'Believe'. He wrote that Dravid helped in nurturing the future stars of Indian cricket under his captaincy who took India to new heights.
Dravid had led Team India after Sourav Ganguly was removed from captaincy and he is also very active in guiding the youngsters since his retirement. He has coached India A and under-19 team, and currently the 48-year-old is the Director of Cricket Operations at the National Cricket Academy (NCA).
“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, an 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 revealed that Dravid used to fight with the selectors to include talented youngsters in the Indian cricket team. He also added that the former India captain advised players to go back to Ranji Trophy whenever possible if they needed to find the touch back.
“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 practice at the NCA, I heard him complain a couple of times; he told us that we should instead be playing Ranji Trophy matches," he wrote.
Raina recalled an incident when Dravid didn't like his new T-shirt which he had to throw into the dustbin after being dressed down by the senior cricketer. He wrote that Dravid wanted everyone to respect that they are playing for India and they shouldn't take it casually.
“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."
(With The Print Inputs)