Dravid ready for an Indian autumn

The current India batting order is the best in history. Discuss. Of its five outstanding members, the most excellent is Rahul Dravid. Discuss further.

These are tricky questions which would probably require the skills of an A-level or GCSE student to answer. For the rest of us, there will be further opportunity for closer research in the coming weeks, starting on Wednesday.

Dravid and India play England in the NatWest Challenge, a series of three one-day matches serving as a warm-up for the 12-nation ICC Champions Trophy, which starts the week after. In October, he and the team meet Australia at home in the most eagerly anticipated Test series of the year.

"It's nice to be part of a team where everyone is fighting at the same time," Dravid said last week between showers in Amsterdam, where India had arrived for another warm-up tournament. "We're all about the same age, and to be performing at the same time is a privilege. We're experienced, all the players have been around for five or six years."

Dravid is part of the order that includes his contemporaries Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly (there are only nine months in age between the three), VVS Laxman, a year behind, and the younger lions, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh. But it is Dravid who is currently the No 1 ranked Test batsman in the world, it is Dravid who constantly supplies the substance to their one-day innings that permits the flamboyance of others.

Seven of Dravid's 17 Test hundreds have come in his past 28 innings - a hundred every four visits to the crease - and four of the last five have been doubles. Apart from being ranked No 1, he might also make a case for being the most elegant batsman around. It is almost heretical to suggest, but he is more aesthetically pleasing to watch than Tendulkar.

But he tailors his goals to the team's needs and clearly has a deep belief in the team ethos. His most memorable innings was probably his 180 against Australia in Calcutta in an epic stand of 366 with Laxman that allowed India to win the match after following on. His inspiring 233 in Adelaide last December set up the bridgehead for an astonishing victory on foreign soil.

If he puts part of the reason for India's renewed competitiveness down to their accord on and off the field, part is also down to the leadership of the coach, John Wright, and the captain, Ganguly. Together they have given India a hard-nosed approach. Dravid was instrumental in Wright's appointment, having spent time with him at Kent in 2000, and he admires Ganguly.

"Sourav has his own style of leadership which has worked for him and the team," he said. "The younger boys have responded. The one thing about Sourav is that he wants to win really badly, and is willing to do what it takes and get whatever professional help he needs.

"He has been able to push that through and he's also been willing to take a lot of advice. Some people seem to think that Sourav can be aloof and runs the team like a personal thing, but he involves the senior players a lot.

"We have a senior leadership group and meet quite often to discuss a lot of things besides the cricket, helping us to get some idea about how the team should be going, how we can improve the spirit."

The Indians spend a lot of time on the road - they have already played in Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka this year - but Dravid seems to gain strength from it. "I enjoy the challenges of the sport, and if cricket is a lifestyle, I enjoy the travelling, seeing different places, experiencing different cultures, meeting different people. I think experience of playing round the world and growing as a person helps." There spoke a rounded man.

Since reaching the World Cup final, India's one-day cricket has regressed slightly while their Test cricket has advanced. Dravid continues to be pressed into service as a one-day wicketkeeper, a temporary, Heath Robinson arrangement which shows little sign of ending. "I don't have any aspirations to being a fantastic wicketkeeper. I struggle in the subcontinent, where the ball can turn, but I find it a lot easier elsewhere and it's a case of doing a job for the side."

Each catch he takes behind is cause for celebration but equally, of those who have kept wicket in more than 50 one-dayers, he is the only player to have a batting average in the 40s (counting only the 68 games in which he has donned the gloves). "Batting is still my main role, and a lot of times the seven batsmen it gives us has helped win games."

England at this time of year in this kind of summer may not see India at their best, but some time in the next three weeks that batting line-up will provide unbounded joy while causing bowlers untold misery. No need to discuss.

Suggested Topics
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
health
Arts and Entertainment
Pink Floyd on stage at Live 8 in 2005. From left to right: David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright
music New album The Endless River set to overtake boyband for most pre-ordered of all-time
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink