Rahul Dravid is a good coach
With 24 away wins (Sachin Tendulkar has 20), he was India's biggest batsman, winning almost 70 on average. When the imponderables are added to the equation, with the ability to absorb pressure and match impact, he is the greatest series-defining batsman in test cricket history, his number of eight series-defining feats being greater than any other.
- Suresh Menon in Rahul Dravid - Timeless Steel: Collected Writings on the Go-to-Man of Indian Cricket (2012)
Rahul Dravid's performance stats show he is the greatest test batsman India has ever had. And yet, if you ask sports journalists and other Dravid-era cricketers why he was successful, the consensus view was that "Dravid succeeds because he keeps it simple".
So if it is so easy to achieve success by keeping it simple, why don't more cricketers do it?
Why is "easy" not easy?
At the center of oversized success in any area of life - including hitting and investing - is the ability of a small number of people to exercise their minds to achieve results that seem out of reach for 99.99% of the population. While what these people do may be easy, that doesn't mean it is easy. There are broadly five reasons why beating Rahul Dravid is not easy.
First, Dravid's training and basic mental conditioning began when he was about eight years old. It was at this point that his trainer, Keki Tarapore, taught him the importance of playing with a straight racket and the importance of tireless practice in order to achieve high levels of proficiency. Long before Malcolm Gladwell wrote about his famous principle “10,000 hours of training” in Outliers (2008), thousands of Indian trainers such as Keki Tarapore (for Dravid), Ramakant Achrekar (for Sachin Tendulkar) and Desh Azad (for Kapil Dev) trained their stations, to follow this principle. As Fazal Khaleel, Dravid's teammate from his school cricket team, who also played Ranji Trophy cricket with him, remembers:
“He paid attention to the details, especially the basics. If his form wasn't good, he'd be practicing shadows again - on the hanging ball. As we were correcting our basics, our coach Keki Tarapore told us that the ball would go at an angle if the stick didn't come straight down.
Rahul never forgot the instruction. Interestingly, he didn't change anything about his cricket or his approach to the game. He has played the same way since he was in school. Playing in V was a matter of course for him and he has never changed it. "
While many students growing up in India's major metropolitan areas may have access to such coaching and batting facilities, Dravid was in his appetite for practice to really withdraw from his peers. John Wright, who coached the Indian cricket team from 2000 to 2005, was the first to tell the world how seriously he took net training:
“I've never seen a more dedicated cricketer than Rahul on the nets. He was able to simulate a game situation by not just going through the movements but having each ball counted. It was like he didn't even want to get on the networks. In a situation where three or four bowlers attacked him, he wanted to compete. He always tested himself ... "
Rahul not only practiced mentally in the nets, he also practiced the shots everywhere and all the time in his nets. His wife Vijeta discovered this fact shortly after their marriage:
“When I went to Melbourne and Sydney [in January 2004] I was still trying to get to know him, to know his game. Only then did I begin to notice how he was preparing: his routines, his obsession with shadow exercises at all hours of the day, which I found very strange at first ... "
In addition to these strengths, Rahul Dravid was one of the first test cricketers to begin using set routines and mental conditioning techniques to improve his game. Dravid started practicing these routines when he was a cricketer. As Fazal Khaleel, Dravid's teammate from school and Ranji Cricket, says:
“As a roommate, Rahul was both difficult and easy to share. He wanted a zen-like atmosphere in the room - everything peaceful and calm. He was calm and meditative, wouldn't watch TV much; he read books instead ... He had his set routines and rituals, even in those days. He would do breathing exercises and clean his nostrils with the ancient practice of Jalneti. "
Over the years, and as Dravid rose to the pantheon for crickets, his mental conditioning techniques were perfected to a high level of proficiency.
Vijeta, Rahul Dravid's wife, recalls that around 2006-07:
“When we started traveling with the kids, we made sure we had two rooms next to each other. The day before each game, the boys were told that their father had to be left alone for a while, and he was. He went to his room and meditated or maybe did some visualization exercises. On the morning of the game, he got up and meditated again before going to the floor. I have tried meditation myself and I know that the zone that Rahul can get into as quickly as he needs it will take many years of training to reach it. "
The sum of everything we've discussed so far enables you to visualize not only an extremely skilled cricketer, but one whose mental conditioning has given him enormous reserves of mental strength. Dravid himself put the entire construct together in an interview for Cricinfo editor Sambit Bal in 2004:
“I try to have as many networks as possible in the last few days before the game. When I'm comfortable with my game, I stop. Then I think about the match. I look at the wicket. I try to analyze what type of bowler I will play, what strengths and weaknesses they have. I think of the memories of my last meeting with them. I watch videos when they are available. The last time a bowler got me out, I try to think about how I got out, what mistake I made. And I do my best to be relaxed because that's when I play at my desk. I'm trying to slow things down a few days before the game. I have long lunches, do things without rushing. On the morning of the game, I always get up a few hours before we have to go to the ground so that I have enough time to get ready. I take time to bathe, wear my clothes, have breakfast. I never hurry ... "
Additionally, David has sought feedback from his peers throughout his career and reviewed his to understand his weaknesses. Then, using his cricket intelligence, he found technical solutions to these weaknesses and spent hundreds of hours on the nets correcting these problems.
Eventually, he implemented these technical fixes in live cricket matches against high profile opponents.
John Wright, the 2000-05 Indian team coach, noticed this before most other people:
“He's never made the same mistake twice. He learned tremendously in one day cricket - which was probably an area where he had to work a little more than others. He was eliminated from the Indian one day team and then came back to have a very good World Cup [in 2003] ... He had all the shots but he worked hard to turn the blow, get the singles and the ball on its side when you would normally put it on its side. In the beginning people would try to slow him down, but then he figured out a way so that they couldn't. "
In the published material available on Rahul Dravid, this case study - how Dravid sorted out his day-long cricket batting - is elaborated on. This ability - to understand and acknowledge one's own weaknesses, then find a solution, and finally have the mental strength necessary to act on the problem in front of a global audience - is very rare.
It is unlikely that this set of traits can be coached about an individual. You need said person to have the curiosity and attitude to grow that way.
Dravid had this growth philosophy from a young age.
Greg Chappell, who coached India for much of Dravid's tenure as captain of the Indian team from 2005 to 2007, said:
“Rahul is an avid reader who reads in search of knowledge to improve with
himself. He's like a kid in that he keeps asking questions and then asking why when you give him an answer ... That way he was extremely trainable. Because of his intelligence and strong belief in his abilities, he could put concepts into action. "
Dravid's wife, Vijeta, says even if he had a bad cricket field, his attitude towards growth would help him recover:
“At the end of the day he may think about it, his eyelashes may be bothering him ... but at this point he can divide his life very well. He won't order room service or brood inside. He'd rather go out to find something to do: go to the movies or watch musicals - whatever he loves. He'll go to the seaside or go to the bookstores. "
As with test cricket, when it comes to investing, those who not only work on their technical skills, but also think deeply about the underlying functions of large companies, are most successful. Such investors can then see companies in a way that no one else can. In particular, these investors can gain insights into how these companies work that no one else has.
In addition, through introspection and review of their previous investment decisions, these investors can identify deficiencies in their investment toolset.
Then these investors like Dravid identify remedial measures for their shortcomings. The biggest investors, like the biggest test cricketers, are a combination of strong technical ability and a growth philosophy.
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