Rahul Dravid feels T20 can be cricket’s ticket to Olympics
Dravid also doffed his hat to IPL for giving a wonderful platform to Indian domestic players
It was only fitting that Manoj Badale, the lead owner of the Rajasthan Royals, invited the Rahul Dravid for the launch of his book — A New Innings — on Friday.
Unlike his famous habit of frustrating the best of the bowlers with his impeccable defence in his heyday, few people know that Dravid is also a keen reader who would often pick up a book to take his mind off cricket.
But more importantly, it was his studious approach to the game that helped him cement a place in the pantheon of all-time greats.
And now the iconic Indian batsman believes that the T20 format has what it takes to put cricket in the league of Olympic sports.
“I think it will be great if the T20 format of the game can become an Olympic sport with cricket being played in so many countries,” Dravid said at the book launch which was organised virtually.
“Obviously, it will come with its challenges. Also, cricket is a game that requires a certain kind of facility for it to be successful.”
Of course, the murmurs for cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics would not have become so strong in recent years if not for the big impact of the IPL on the global game.
More than 30 countries have introduced domestic T20 leagues following the staggering success of the IPL.
“We have seen in the just-concluded IPL, the success of IPL was on large part due to the quality of wickets that were put out for the teams (in the UAE). You know the Olympics are played in countries where cricket is not played -- even though they do play cricket in Japan. But if you can get all of that right and get the facilities in place then why not. I am certainly for the expansion of the T20 game. If it is possible, cricket should endeavor to try and get into the Olympics. It might take some time, but why not,” Dravid said.
Turning his focus to the IPL, Dravid then doffed his hat to the richest T20 tournament in the world for giving a wonderful platform to Indian domestic players.
A player like Rahul Tewatia, according to Dravid, would not have emerged if not for the IPL.
“In the past in Indian cricket, when young players were looking for opportunities, the only place they got opportunities from were the state associations. They needed to get into their state Ranji Trophy team,” the former Indian captain said.
“But today because of the IPL, you can be from Karnataka and you can play for Mumbai. You know a good example is a state association like Haryana. They have had lot of good spinners. They have Amit Mishra, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jayant Yadav, so someone like Rahul Tewatia probably doesn’t even get a chance to play for the Haryana T20 team.
“In the past that would have limited him because he would not have got a stage to do it. But today that doesn’t stop him from playing for the Rajasthan Royals, having an exceptional season (255 runs and 10 wickets) and showing people that he has got talent and he has got lot of ability.
“That’s a great positive of the IPL. Suddenly now people have got an opportunity to be not limited by the state associations or the region that they come from but you have eight franchises looking for the best talent. It’s like having eight extra set pair of eyes. And that’s exactly why you have seen so many young players come through.”
And A New Innings — the book Badale has co-authored with Simon Hughes — also captures the evolution of the sport on and off the field following the advent of the IPL.
“It is a book that tries to unpack the business of cricket,” Badale said while Hughes added: “I believe the IPL has transformed the game of cricket, and the lessons for the business of sport are immense.”
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