Bengaluru, January 10: India U19 coach Rahul Dravid said the young cricketers need to figure out themselves on and off the field if they want to be successful when they graduate to a higher level.
How would you sum up India's preparations for the 2018 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup?
It's been good. We started the process almost a year ago in terms of identifying a core group of 35-40 kids that we wanted to give exposure to. We've had a few series, a couple of Asia Cups where we've had the opportunity to see a large group of talent, and just in the build up to this tournament as well they've been playing a lot of domestic Under 19 cricket as well.
We've been here for a week before the start of the tournament, played three good games against Central Districts. We feel happy and we feel that we've given the boys enough exposure and opportunities to grow.
What are some of the main differences between now and your day in terms of being an Under 19 cricketer?
We never played this tournament in my day! After 1988 they didn't hold the tournament for 10 years, so I've no exposure of playing and being part of this tournament. I tell a lot of these boys that I think it's a terrific opportunity for them to be a part of this tournament.
How do you view your role as India Under 19 coach?
My job is to look after India Under 19s and also India A, and we see that as a really good pathway process in terms of some of these boys hopefully going on to represent India A in a few years time. It's an exciting age to be a part of and I've really enjoyed being part of it and just putting some structures in place and ensuring that we give enough opportunities to a lot of young players at this age.
Is the work as a coach you do mostly mental or technical?
I think it's a combination of both. They are really at an exciting age in their careers, the opportunities ahead of them are exciting and the future for them is bright, but there's also a lot of uncertainty and doubt at this kind of age.
So a lot of it is about having conversations around the mental side of the game, sharing some of my experiences of what it felt like to be a young cricketer at this stage of my career, and I think that's the part that I find quite exciting, because having been through some of that myself it's nice for me to just to share my experiences with them and some of the things that I've learned over the last 20-25 years. There is technical advice, and that's a process as well, we have that in our camps and at various stages throughout the year.
What are some of the challenges an Under 19 cricketer will face as they move into professional cricket?
I think a lot of these kids at the Under 19 level, by the very nature of the fact that they are here, are probably a lot more talented and just have better skillsets than some of the other kids who they compete with. And then suddenly as they leave this level they compete with people who have better skillsets than them, more experience, and it's just the adjustment of having to deal with that kind of thing is something we find is a big challenge.
It's something we constantly talk to them about, that sometimes it does take them a few years from Under 19 level to actually get to know themselves better and understand their game and that's fine, that's just part of the process.
If you could pass on one lesson to all the young cricketers in this tournament what would it be?
I think the quicker you start learning about yourself and how you tick, and the quicker you start taking responsibility for the way you carry yourself as a professional cricketer both on and off the field, the better. If you want to be a successful cricketer you need to figure out yourself, both on and off the field.