The wall of Indian cricket: Rahul Dravid says, needs to wake up. But how?

Former India captain and current U-19 and India ‘A’ coach Rahul Dravid on Tuesday said it baffles him when an U-19 bowler is reported for suspect bowling action.

Rahul Dravid

“When I hear an under-19 bowler reported for suspected bowling action, it upsets me deeply. What were the coaches doing until he reached that age? Did his faulty action begin at 10 years? Did the next bunch of coaches just let it go because he was getting wickets and winning them matches?” Dravid said while delivering the fourth MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture here on Tuesday.

He also urged the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to formulate a blueprint for junior cricket in India

“Cricket needs to wake up. But how?” Dravid said. “Rather than expect our best talent to come flocking to our junior cricket nurseries, we first need to have a clear, detailed plan. A blueprint for our junior cricket.”

The stylish batsman added that it was imperative to remove age fudging and illegal bowling action at the junior level for the development of the game.

“When at 19, an eager hard-working boy who could have played the junior World Cup is reported for suspect action, he is left correcting his action. These short term goals achieved through shortcuts hurt the child because we as adults turn a blind eye.

“It is a similar emphasis on short term results that has led to the issue of overage players in junior matches. The entire exercise begins when a coach alters a player’s date of birth to allow him to play at a local event.

“The truth is a player who fakes his age might make it to the junior level not necessarily because he is better but because physically he is stronger and bigger. It will have a ripple effect and an honest and talented player will be deprived of a place and we run the risk of losing him forever. Overaging is toxic and dangerous,” Dravid said.

Dravid also said that BCCI needs to do more to attract youngsters to cricket.

“We are not doing enough to attract youngsters and thus losing out on talent. Cricket is not the number one sport for youngster anymore. A top sports equipment company told me that the sales of cricket equipment has gone down. I think we need to have a blueprint for junior cricket in India. We need to find a way to guide out coaches. There has to be well explained guidelines,” he said.

The high-profile event was also attended by the Indian and South African teams along with Pataudi’s wife Sharmila Tagore among others.