India head coach Rahul Dravid broke his silence on veteran wicketkeeper-batter Wriddhiman Saha's explosive comments after the latter was dropped from the Test squad for India’s upcoming two-match series against Sri Lanka at home. Dravid said that he was not hurt by the comments Saha made.
Wriddhiman Saha was among the four veteran India players alongside Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Ishant Sharma, who were not included in the 18-member squad for India’s upcoming two-match Test series against Sri Lanka, beginning on March 4 in Mohali. After being dropped, Saha revealed that Dravid had asked him to consider "retirement" as he won't be further considered for selection in international cricket.
"The team management had told me that I would not be considered henceforth. I could not tell this so long as I was part of the India team setup. Even coach Rahul Dravid suggested that I think about taking retirement," Saha, 37, told media persons on February 19.
During the press conference post the 3-0 T20I series sweep against West Indies, Dravid was asked about Saha’s comments. Dravid then graciously spoke about Saha's achievements for India over the years and stated that he was not hurt by the comments.
“I'm not hurt at all”, Dravid started. "I have a deep respect for Wriddhiman Saha and his achievements and contributions to Indian cricket. My conversation with him actually came from that place, from my respect for him. He deserved honesty and clarity. I didn't want him to hear about it from the media.
"These are conversations I constantly have with players. I'm not hurt about it at all because I don't expect players to always like all the messages, or agree with everything I have to say about them. That's not how it works. When you have difficult conversations with people, sometimes you have to have them with players. You don't always expect them to agree with you or like with you, but that doesn't mean you brush it under the carpet and don't have the conversations."
Further, Dravid explained that he and Rohit Sharma, India's new all-format captain, have ensured that all players are properly communicated pertaining to their roles in the squad and the one dropped or excluded are given a proper explanation behind it.
"Before every playing XI is picked, even now, either me or Rohit will speak to the guys not playing and are open to answer questions on why they are not playing and what are the reasons a particular XI might play. I'm not hurt by it. It's natural for players at times to get upset and feel hurt, but I just feel that because of the respect I have for them, my team deserved clarity and honesty, and that's all I was trying to convey," Dravid added.
“We have only three Tests this year and with Rishabh Pant having established himself as our No. 1 choice wicketkeeper, we were looking to groom a younger wicketkeeper. That was it. This doesn't change my feelings or respect for Wriddhi or his contribution,” he concluded.
Saha last played for India in November against New Zealand where he had scored a valiant 61 in the Kanpur Test while battling against neck pain. Although he was retained for the South Africa Test tour, he was never picked ahead of Pant as the primary wicketkeeping option.