Mumbai: Rahul Dravid today cautioned that Test cricket will face a stiff survival challenge in a decade's time since children, who are growing up now, may then prefer easy bucks in Twenty20 format over the traditional form of the game.
"I think today's youngsters like Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Manoj Tiwary have grown up watching and idealising the Test cricket. It's (about) kids of my son's age, who have grown up watching T20 and IPL, and what those kids want, will be the challenge in 10 years' time," said Dravid at a book launch function on Wednesday.
"I don't see that as an immediate problem, I see it as a long-term issue. That challenge is going to arise in 10 years' time and we need to address that problem right now," said the batsman who was the proverbial rock at no.3 for India in Tests for more than a decade and a half.
Dravid, who holds the record for second highest runs scored in Test matches, said while the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) provides the opportunity for players to earn big bucks, the children growing up with the game should be told that the real satisfaction comes by playing Test cricket around the world.
"I had gone through a Commerce degree and not very successfully. So I knew that the only option for me was to be a successful Test cricketer at that stage. Today the options are a lot more. People have the option of not playing Test cricket but still making money out of the game. Who is to blame kids for taking that option? I won't judge them on that. I want to tell kids that the greatest satisfaction you are going to get is by playing Test cricket across these wonderful stadiums in the world. So don't sell yourself short," the former Indian skipper said.
Dravid, who took over the reins of the national side when Greg Chappell was the coach, said he always had felt in command of the team contrary to the general belief that it was the controversial Aussie who ran the show. "It was always my team. There is no doubt about that. Because Greg was a strong personality and because he himself was a great cricketer, because of the fanfare and publicity at times it could come across as it was his team," said Dravid about a tumultuous phase in Indian cricket.
"He (Chappell) can polarise a team with his strong personality. But I always thought it was my team. I never felt that he took a hard position when I wanted to do things differently," said the man nicknamed 'The Wall'.
"I thought he (Chappell) was a terrific man to talk batting with. He is the kind of a player who has grown up in a era of Australian cricket where they played the game and, at the end of the day, discussed the game. There was a lot that he could offer in terms of knowledge and experiences on how you could play the game," the 40-year-old former India star elaborated.
Dravid conceded that while he took up the leadership role with enthusiasm over the years he started to see it as a burden probably because of excess cricket combined with bad results, like India's early exit in the 2007 World Cup, and that forced him to quit the high-profile job. "I took it up (captaincy) with enthusiasm, energy, passion and desire to do it. I felt at the stage when I gave it up that somehow over the period, it (desire) had gone, maybe because we played too much cricket then or some of the bad results we had."
"I was just not enjoying it. I was getting up in the morning of a one-day match thinking, oh there is another day of cricket today. I have never felt like that before about cricket," he admitted candidly.
He acknowledged that he could have continued to captain the side longer had some of the results been better. "Sometimes the results take a toll on you like the World Cup (2007)," he said.
"I don't know what is lined up in the future. I would love to be with the game in some form. I would love to be associated with the game. The game is too big for me to give it back what it has given me," he said modestly.
Regarded as an intelligent cricketer, the 39-year-old Bangalorean stalwart said he sometimes complicated his game as he thought too much about it. "I am comfortable with the tag 'intellectual cricketer' because it was who I was. I thought deeply about the game because I loved it. I wanted to know everything about the game. I wanted to challenge myself. That was probably my nature. This intellectual or curiosity of mine was a good strength and also sometimes my weakness.
"There were times when I did complicate the game because of my thinking. (Javagal) Srinath and Anil (Kumble) were constantly on my ears telling me not to think too much about the game and try and relax a bit."
Dravid, who has scored over 23,000 runs in Tests and ODIs combined, was modesty personified when he said he was not as talented as some others in the country and he had to really work hard to gather runs. "I wasn't the most prodigious talented cricketer in Karnataka, let alone India. I had to work through the lack of natural flair. Right from a young age, I had to fight for things. Runs never came easy for me. It was a strength as I was able to push myself to limits that even I thought wasn't possible."
Dravid, who played 164 Tests and 344 ODIs between June, 1996 and January, 2012, recalled the tour to Australia in 1999 when he tried too hard to succeed and failed as a consequence. "But I did push it sometimes a bit. There were tours where I over complicated it a bit. Like the 1999 tour to Australia which was terrible. I went there thinking if I do well here it would stamp me as an international player of repute. I would be able to earn the respect of my colleagues. I just froze because I kept analysing it," he said.
Dravid, who had a brief English county stint with Kent and also played in Scotland, said that county cricket helped him to develop better. "When I had six months off I went to England and that changed me a lot. It was a new environment. County cricket with not many people watching. It helped me frame better. It helped me develop as a person," he said.
Known as a gentleman of the game, Dravid revealed that he has lost his temper a few times during the course of his 16-year-international career. "I smashed a chair (in the dressing room). We were leading the Test series 1-0 against England. We went to Mumbai. I won the toss and decided to bowl first, which in hindsight I don't think was one of the smartest decision. And we bowled badly on a wicket that did help the seamers a bit and we batted terribly."
It was an anger on myself because I hadn't batted particularly well. I thought I had made the wrong decision upfront and then to end up capitulating on that day when we could have easily played out for a draw. I just got a bit upset that day," he said.
Dravid, who was also renowned for his safe pair of hands at slips and has taken a record 210 catches in Tests, said he loved catching in that position. "I love fielding in slips. Especially when the tailenders came in I always saw an edge coming. They are most likely to get out and I didn't want to miss out on that one catch or be a part of opportunity to celebrate with the bowlers."
He added that he got miffed when he spilled catches as he felt he was letting the bowler down.