Saturday, November 15, 2008

Leave him alone say former cricketers

A woefully out-of-form Rahul Dravid can consider taking a short break from the game to rediscover his touch, according to former India cricketers who insisted that the batting stalwart needs just one good knock to turn things around.

The former players made it clear that Dravid should be given 'rest' only if he wants it and national selectors should not put undue pressure by axing him for the upcoming two-Test series against England.

While Anshuman Gaekwad and Abbas Ali Baig were not averse to the idea of giving Dravid a break if required, former wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani felt such a step would be unfair for a batsman of his stature and class.

"He is a great player and it is just a matter of one good innings. It does not take them long to come back. Since the Tests against England will start in December, he can play in domestic matches. If he still does not get runs, he can think of taking a break and come back fresh. But then, it should be his decision", Gaekwad said.

Dravid has been in miserable form for the last few months which has prompted his detractors to question his place in the Test team.

With Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble retiring recently, there has been intense speculation that the 35-year-old Dravid could be next in the line.

Although the Karnataka batsman has aggregated 10,366 runs in 129 Tests at an impressive average of 52.61, the last two series against Sri Lanka and Australia have been extremely disappointing.

He accumulated just 148 runs at an average of 24.66 in the three-match series against Sri Lanka while his performance dipped further in the recent four-match series against Australia with an aggregate of 120 runs at an average of 17.14.

"I think the selectors should also talk to him and take him into confidence rather than dropping him. He still has a lot of cricket left in him and needs to be handled properly", Gaekwad, also a former coach and selector, said.

Gaekwad said Dravid needs a little bit of luck to overcome the form slump. "The more you fail, the more you feel the pressure. I think he is putting pressure on himself and therefore cannot bat as fluently as he is known to. Because of a lack of confidence, his feet are also not moving as they should", he said.

"All players go through such a period in their careers. There is no reason why he can't come out of it. It is just a matter of one good knock", he said.

Kirmani believed that Dravid should be left alone to find a way out of the rut and said the media focus on him was ‘extremely unfair’.

"He is a great icon, I think we should leave him alone. he is too good a player to remain out of form for long. Let him decide what he wants to do. Let us not put pressure on him as it will only compound the problem," Kirmani said.

"The selectors should not drop him or humiliate him. He is an experienced player and their guidance is required for the youngsters", he said.

Baig felt a break would rejuvenate Dravid.

"He needs to take a break. It will do a lot of good for him. He can play in the domestic circuit to get his form back and return to a good frame of mind. He has been battling bad luck as well," he said.

"Rest him and then get him back. This is not the right time to retire for him, he is too good a batsman for it," he added.

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly also extended support to his one-time deputy and said the right-hander will strike form in the upcoming two-Test series against England.

"I'm sure Rahul Dravid will sort his game out. When you perform for 13-14 years, it just doesn't go away overnight," Ganguly, who has accumulated more than 7000 runs from 113 Tests, told a TV channel.

"Everybody must realise, the selectors, the board and the fans that when you play for so long you will have tough times. You will all have bad series because you are human. I back him to do well and get runs against England," he added.

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