Dilip Vengsarkar, under whose chairmanship Rahul Dravid was last dropped from India’s ODI squad in October 2007, tells DNA that he is surprised by the thinking behind the recall of the former India skipper. Excerpts:
Your first thoughts on Dravid’s recall?
Rahul is a batsman of great quality and record. I’ve no doubts about his merits. But I’m worried about the reason and the thought process behind the recall. If Rahul is back because he plays the short balls well, it is a matter of great concern for Indian cricket. It means the youngsters cannot play the short balls.
Do you mean to say it is not a right move?
I don’t mean or say that. This decision means the cupboard is empty. If the youngsters are not technically equipped to play the short ball, then they should be sent to the National Cricket Academy. But I have my doubts. These are the players who did very well in Australia.
You said Dravid is a batsman of high quality. Why did you drop him in 2007?
Because he was not scoring runs. And also because the youngsters at that stage were doing well. There were players with better fitness and fielding abilities knocking the doors.
So you say it was only a matter form and you never ruled him out in your ODI scheme of things?
Never. A batsman of Dravid’s standards cannot be written off. But at that stage other players (Sehwag, Yuvraj, Gambhir, Raina, Rohit and Dhoni) were doing very well. They beat Australia in Australia and Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka in the ODIs. There was no way we could have accommodated Rahul.
What do you make of the selection? Kris Srikkanth says he has picked the best possible squad.
I’ve no reason to say he has not. It is a very good team with a lot talent. Rohit Sharma has missed out because, I thought, he went into a comfort zone. But youngsters like Virat Kohli, Piyush Chawla, Ajinkya Rahane and Dhaval Kulkarni need to be given opportunities at the right time. I thought the selectors should have gone to watch the Emerging Players tournament in Australia. The Emerging Players tournament is the breeding place for the national team.
Finally, do you expect Dravid to stay on till the 2011 World Cup?
I don’t know what the selectors have in mind. I hope, wish and expect him to do well. Rahul is a great batsman with a very sound technique. The ODIs, unlike the Tests, is a batsman’s game. Unless you make mistakes you don’t get out. Rahul doesn’t commit too many mistakes.