Rajasthan Royals as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is no exaggeration as the team has performed way beyond its potential in this year’s IPL. The credit should go to captain Rahul Dravid.
Dravid knew that a majority of the players with him had little star value. He knew the onus was on him to transform each one of them into a match-winner. Look at how he has managed that over the last two years.
Dravid hasn’t merely lead from the front in inspiring his lot. He created an environment for talent to flourish. He was aware that there was a big gap between potential and performance. He empowered players to take ownership and responsibility and encouraged them to show leadership qualities to maximise their potential. That inspired everyone to perform at the same time. That remains Dravid’s greatest success.
One way of doing this is to make the juniors feel comfortable in a team environment. In most team conversations, the seniors are so lost in their little world of planning and thought that the youngsters are treated as fringe elements. It does not help anyone’s cause if power centres are restricted to the top few. Dravid’s method was all embracing: whether he talked to individuals or the team, he ensured that the juniors were given due importance. These players were allowed to think and translate thoughts into action. Success was met with encouragement, a wrong result was used to show them the right way.
In an interview, Ajinkya Rahane pointed out that Dravid and Shane Watson brought the best out in the team. That would not have happened without two other factors that Dravid has diligently worked on. One, equipping a player to fend for himself and two, keeping their strategies simple. Sport is all about decision-making under pressure and Dravid created an atmosphere where each player was encouraged to overcome pressure on his own. He constantly showed them the way with his performance as a batsman, fielder and leader and when the responsibility was transferred to the team members, they performed as a unit.
Was Dravid lucky to get a team which listened to him? I don’t think so. His motivational skills are too good to demand conditions conducive to him. A good captain or coach creates an environment where a player listens to them. Dravid commands the respect of Rajasthan Royals. I am sure he will inspire the players in such a way that they will continue to rally round him.
The spot-fixing scandal has pushed the team into a dilemma. Its credibility questioned, the team is in a state of shock. This is another test for Dravid and his team. This is where they will have to fall back on another golden attribute of team sport called trust. They had this virtue in generous proportions and it is time these professionals proved once again that they would not allow adversity to destroy it.
(As told to V Narayan Swamy of Times of India. This appeared as an article in the Times of India Sports Edition on 22nd May 2013. Images courtesy Times of India and First Post)