Rahul Dravid stressed on the importance of workload management for players, as his stint as team India head coach begins with the home T20I series against New Zealand, beginning Wednesday. Dravid further added that opposition cannot be called underdogs anymore, given their recent record.
After a disappointing T20 World Cup 2021 campaign, India will look forward to the home three-match T20I series against New Zealand, beginning Wednesday, November 17 in Jaipur. The series also marks the beginning of Rahul Dravid's tenure as head coach, and Rohit Sharma's stint as full-time T20I captain.
India's tight scheduling was cited as a major reason for their early exit from the T20 World Cup, brough about by defeats to Pakistan and New Zealand first up. With a two-match Test series to follow after three T20Is against the Blackcaps, and a South Africa tour scheduled in December-January, workload management becomes of utmost important for the players. Dravid marked it as a prime focus, keeping in mind their mental and physical well-being.
"Workload management has become a crucial part of the game now because so much cricket is played these days," he stated in the pre match press conference ahead of the first T20I against New Zealand. "Like we see in football also, seasons are so long and some of the top players don't play all the games. So if we're playing throughout the year then we have to be careful about players' workload management. Whether we do it within the team or by giving them a break, that will depend on a case-by-case basis.”
“But like I've said before, players' mental and physical well-being will be most important, we will work in and around that, the team will also take priority. So it's a balancing act and we need to understand that we need to do this balancing act at a time like this and work towards getting everyone fit and ready for the big tournament.
"Workload management is important. Players aren't machines. We want all our players fresh for the challenges ahead. It's very simple, we have to monitor every series we play.
Dravid stated that forming separate teams for formats is not an option right now to address the bio-bubble fatigue issue for players.
"I don't think we're at that point where we're looking at separate teams [for separate formats]. Of course, there are certain individuals who only play particular formats and there are some who play all formats. Obviously, in times like this we need to be in a conversation with the players, for me the players' physical and mental health is the most important thing. I will always be in conversation with them and I'd like to work with them to ensure that whenever they're playing,” he explained.
Dravid stressed further on the challenging times for players, and how they need to make full use of opportunities when they come.
“We need to recognise that these are challenging times for people, for players, and especially for those guys who are expected to play all formats. We might not be able to play every single player in every single game across formats, we need to accept that as reality. Herein lies the opportunity for the other guys to step up and use it show what they have.” he said.
New Zealand has had the better of India in ICC tournaments in recent years, and finished T20 WC 2021 runners-up on Sunday. Dravid said that the Blackcaps cannot be called underdogs anymore, more so, given their recent record.
"New Zealand are a very, very good side, make no mistake about it," said the former India captain. "You don't need me to say that. It's almost become fashionable to call them underdogs but that narrative has changed. They have beaten us in big games but therein lies an opportunity for us.”