“To be very honest with you, this word experimentation gets thrown around a lot without actually sometimes being thought through,” Dravid began. “It’s not that we are trying to sometimes experiment for the sake of experimenting. Sometimes there are specific reasons why you have to do certain things.”
Everyone in the room knew Dravid wasn’t done. In fact, he had barely warmed up.
“Just to give you an example, the No. 4 and 5 spots seem to get discussed and talked about a lot,” he continued. “It gives the impression that we don’t have clarity on who was going to be there, but to be very honest with you, I could have told you 18 or 19 months ago the top two-three candidates we were looking at for the No. 4, 5 slots. It was always going to be Shreyas [Iyer], KL [Rahul] and Rishabh [Pant] for those spots, right?
“If you look back on some of the teams that we picked from 18 months ago, there was no doubt in our minds. Obviously, it’s unfortunate that all three of them ended up with injuries in the space of two months. What are the odds of that happening? And I don’t think we can, nobody can, calculate for that, especially with the limited number of games that we had in one-day cricket.”
Convinced much? Even if you were, there was more to come.
“You’re also focusing on a T20 World Cup, World Test Championship. You are trying to balance all of that out. You are trying to give enough game time to people. And all three of the guys who were sort of pushing for those two spots got injured in the space of three months and they were not small injuries, right? Serious injuries. All three of them have had to go under the knife. So when that happens, then you have to react to that. Then you have got to try to put other people in those positions and see who can do it in case they are not ready for the World Cup or a big event.
“You can’t predict whether they’ll be 100% right or not, right? As we are seeing even now with KL, sometimes you have got to give it a week extra. So in that situation then we did try a few people. We did rotate a few people around, looked at a few people, but it’s good to know that at least two of the three seem to have got to a point where they have recovered and should be available for us.
“But in the meanwhile, when people are not available, you have to try other people and you have to look at other people. So, I think at this point in time, for us, it’s really about just giving game time to people and ensuring that we give them enough opportunities to play in the roles that they’re going to play in the tournament. And that’s always been the endeavour.”
“Oh, I’m not into legacies as a coach or anything like that,” he offered with a smile. “It’s exciting to play a World Cup at home. I must say that it’s going to be really exciting for everyone, for the boys, for the fans. Yeah, there’s going be a certain amount of pressure associated with it, which is most welcome and which I think we all expect, but to also to be able to play in front of your own home crowds, your own fans is going be very special for everyone. We hope we can have a really good tournament. I think we are preparing really well, we are building up really nicely. It is all hopefully coming together nicely with some of the guys coming back from injury just at the right time.”
The one thing Dravid strongly felt, though, was home advantage is unlikely to be a massive factor. It is not going to be “defining” in that sense. Why? The IPL, and rightly so.
“There are some really good teams in this tournament, but I think the whole thing of home advantage, especially in the sub-continent, has reduced to a large extent over the last 10-12 years because, you know, people come and play here so much, especially in tournaments like the IPL, where people come for two months and have been getting used to these conditions.
“So it’s going to be a really close tournament, it’s going to be a tight tournament. We feel confident, we are really excited. As a coach, I’m really looking forward to it as well. But no, I mean, you don’t think about these things as legacy and stuff. That’s not really what I think about. I try to stay in the present, and try to do the job that I can now and not worry about the future.”
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo