An interesting development has taken with place just a little over a week left for the Indian Test series against England to begin. According to reports, Indian coach Duncan Fletcher has asked for Dravid's assistance during the series, and while the move is a positive one, it also goes to show the lack of confidence Fletcher has in himself, and his abilities, in spite of the fact that he has been part of Indian cricket for nearly three years without tasting a lot of success. Remember, when Sunil Gavaskar was appointed as batting consultant for a series during John Wright's tenure, he was actually peeved since his position as coach was being questioned in a sense. But, that is exactly how a coach's attitude should be. He should have full faith in his own ability.
Coming back to Dravid, and his role as a mentor, too much shouldn't be expected of him in his latest avatar. The role of a mentor is more like a consultant, and he can work on the mental aspect of the young Indian batsmen, apart from guiding them on the technical part. There are a lot of gifted batsmen in the present side, and if Dravid can inculcate a sense of discipline and tenacity among the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, he will have done a good job. As for Cheteshwar Pujara, he has modelled his game on the legend himself, and thus would be pleased to have Dravid around.
The good part for India is that Dravid has tasted a lot of success in England. In fact, he is one of India's most successful batsman in the country. Right from the time he made his debut in 1996, Dravid has rarely struggled in England. He began with two great knocks in his debut series although he missed out on well deserved hundreds. During the 2002 series, when India came from behind to square the series against Nasser Hussain and co. Dravid scored a wonderful double hundred during the series, and also scored a magnificent century as the series finish level at 1-1. In 2007, he played a major leadership role as India won their first Test series in England after 21 years. During India's disastrous tour three years back, Dravid was India's standalone success with three hundreds in four games.
His record means Dravid will have a lot to offer to the batsmen in terms of advice, and his mantra for success. But, there is only so much that he can do. The rest is up to the players, and what they imbibe from him. The tough part is that everybody cannot possess the mental attitude and state of mind that Dravid had during his playing days. This is where the batsman will have to stand up and fight for themselves. If India's batsmen don't do well, Dravid shouldn't be blamed for his role as consultant, since his impact might be minimal.
Ironically, while Fletcher has asked for a batting consultant, he has made no such demand for the bowlers when, in reality, India are expected to struggle more in the bowling department as opposed to their batting owing to their obvious weaknesses. The likes of Ishant Sharma and Mohammad Shami, among others, could have done with some guidance and help off the field. It remains to be seen how the Indian bowlers would respond to the massive challenge without any outside support. From what was on show at Leicestershire, the signs are extremely worrying.
--By A Cricket Analyst