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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power