Indian cricketing icon Rahul Dravid has lavished praise on the upcoming ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup. Dravid has said that the tournament will provide great exposure to youngsters and will help them grow at the international level.
The 11th edition of the tournament will be played across four cities in Bangladesh. The tournament features teams from the nine Test-playing nations and the seven Associate and Affiliate Members - Afghanistan, Canada, Fiji, Namibia, Nepal, Ireland and Scotland.
Dravid, a veteran of 164 Tests and 344 one-day internationals with more than 10,000 runs in both forms, lauded the tournament despite never having participated in one.
He will, however, lead the Indian team in the upcoming tournament as the head coach.
Here are the 5 key things Dravid said about the tournament at a recent press conference -
1. On the U19 tournament
"It is a great opportunity for young players to be able to get exposure to the demands of international cricket. The event provides an opportunity to grow and learn, meet cricketers from other countries who you may go on to play against at the senior level for many years."
2. His advice for the youngsters
"My message to the youngsters is to see the tournament as an opportunity to learn and grow as a cricketer, to see the tournament as exposure they are getting at a young age. They are lucky to be getting this opportunity at a young age."
3. On how the tournament will shape the career of the budding cricketers
"It is just one step in their (the players') journey as cricketers. I'm sure no one wants to be known just as an U19 India cricketer. Everyone wants to go on and represent India, and play a world cup for India at the senior level."
4. On what the players should aim for
"I keep reminding them that there are enough examples of players who go on to play for India U19 but don't go on to represent India. Conversely there are very good examples of players who've played at this level and then gone on to represent India. The important thing from here is to go on and score runs in first class games, score runs in List-A games and then get that recognition from the selectors."
5. What coaching the team means to him
"I know the role of a coach, and how much a coach can influence or impact a result. I'm realistic about that. I think it's in their (the players') hands. It's their opportunity and their World Cup, not necessarily mine. I'm not trying to win the World Cup as a coach. Winning the U19 World Cup is not the be all and end all - in the end I'll be more happy if some of these players go on to represent India. That should be their aim and real aspiration."
The U19 World Cup will be held from 27 January to 14 February.