Sachin Tendulkar undoubtedly qualifies to be among the greatest ever cricketers of the world; Virender Sehwag one of the greatest entertainers who can dismantle any bowling attack with sheer disdain; Mohammed Azharuddin the master of the wristy strokes.But Rahul Dravid will always remain the universal role model, on and off the field.On the field, Dravid was always concentration personified, impeccable in his approach; off it, he was the ideal cricketer for innumerable youngsters, including Suresh Raina and Abhinav Mukund, two of the master batsman’s greatest disciples currently playing top class cricket.No surprise then that Dravid became the first Indian cricketer ever to give a speech at Bradman Oration in Australia.Raina, who says ‘David bhai’ was like a ‘guardian’ to him, and Mukund idolises Dravid since childhood and both were fortunate enough to play for India alongside their hero. It is, however, difficult to distinguish as to who was more fortunate among the two, Raina or Mukund.When Raina made his One-day International debut in Dambulla, Sri Lanka, in 2005, his hero was the captain. Mukund can take the pride that he made his Test debut on the same day, June 20, as Dravid, though 15 years apart. “I’m lucky enough to have that,” Mukund told Mail Today, excitement virtually dripping from his words.Interestingly, both Raina and Mukund got to bat with Dravid on their ODI and Test debuts, respectively. While Muttiah Muralitharan didn’t let Raina bat more than one delivery, limiting his partnership with Dravid to a solitary run, the Mukund-Dravid partnership in the first Test against the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, last year was 15 and 56 runs, respectively, in the two innings.When did Dravid become Mukund’s cricketing hero? “It’s always been Dravid,” he says without batting an eyelid. “You have to see my interviews from the time I was 11 or 12; you will see the same name coming up.” And what are the reasons behind his choice? “A lot… because of this work ethics and, maybe, he was very, very less talented and he made the best use of his talent.”Mukund likes the way Dravid climbed up the ladder by working hard. “I thought he was not as talented as Sachin Tendulkar or Sourav Ganguly, who started their careers with a flourish. Rahul worked hard and today, if you see, he’s probably one of the greatest No.3 who has ever played. So, I’ve immense respect for him. He’s my childhood idol,” vouches the Tamil Nadu opener.After the first two Tests, Mukund had to make way for Virender Sehwag when he joined the team in England last year. But after the four-match Test series, Mukund had a oneon-one chat with Dravid.”I spoke to him after the last Test match in England. I asked him a few things about how to work on my batting, just like I would ask a lot of the other senior players,” said the 22-year-old left-handed batsman. “It’s important that you realise for yourself what you want. As a professional cricketer it’s important that you realise it. Obviously, I’d ask him about a lot of tips when I approach him. But at the end of the day, it’s what I take from him.”Another reason that could have brought the two closer to each other is that Mukund and Dravid work for the same company. “I was lucky enough to interact in Bangalore [during the India-New Zealand Test in August]; spoke to him for a while. It’s very easy to go up to him and approach him, also because we work in the same company, India Cements,” he pointed out. “I always go up to him and ask him if I need anything.Political affiliations blur in sportsadvertisement Ex-cricketer and MP Kirti AzadIt is an old saying and belief that in sports, especially a team game like cricket or hockey, make no distinction between caste, creed or colour. We may well add another category: ‘irrespective of party politics/affiliation’. This can be said particularly after what we saw and heard during Kirti Azad’s crusade to cleanse the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA).In five months, Azad, a former Test player and now an MP, has on two occasions set aside his affiliation to the BJP and spoken strictly for sports and sportspersons. The first time it was in April when he “welcomed” Sachin Tendulkar to the Rajya Sabha. “It will be a pleasure to welcome him in Parliament,” he wrote in a special piece for Mail Today.Interestingly, Tendulkar was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by Congress, which is leading the coalition government at the Centre, and remains the main threat for the main Opposition, BJP.On Tuesday, Azad invoked former Congress chief Jawaharlal Nehru, also the first PM of India. While commenting on the allegation that a few umpires may have given wrong decisions in return for money just before the World T20 began in Sri Lanka, Azad recalled Nehru’s famous saying on the “spirit of the game”. “Nehru said we should play the game in the spirit of the game. And we should inculcate this spirit right from the beginning, from grassroots,” Azad said outside the Ferozeshah Kotla.More aspirants for coaches’ jobsadvertisementDronacharya Award-winning athletics coach J.S. Bhatia with President Pranab MukherjeeMore and more people are applying for the 200 posts of coaches advertised by the Sports Authority of India (SAI). Over 1,000 people had applied for these Grade III posts (since re-designated as ‘assistant coach’), advertised last year, before the SAI decided to cancel the process and add the interview segment to the recruitment process. Sources said all those who had applied last year need not send their applications again as they are eligible for the written test and interviews, which will be conducted depending on candidates’ performance in the theory test.”We are getting a good response to our latest advertisement. These could be the people who might have missed out last year or may have become eligible after the expiry of the deadline last year,” he said. The last date for applying is October 15 and for those living in the North-East, it’s October 22. “Actually, the requirement of coaches is more than 200. But we are trying to fill these vacancies in a phased manner, so that a good balance is maintained between senior and junior coaches,” he said.Out of the 200 posts, there are vacancies for 38 boxing coaches, followed by taekwondo (22), archery and athletics (18 each), and judo and wrestling (14). “These posts have been advertised on the basis of the manpower that SAI’s regional centres/field units require. Coaches are retiring virtually every month. The need for more boxing coaches has arisen because the coaches that we currently have are aged and many are retiring. We need more boxing coaches,” he pointed out.– The bogey of PILCOM, the organising committee constituted to organise the 1996 cricket World Cup in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, continues to haunt the BCCI. Tax-related issues of not just PILCOM, but its Indian arm, INDCOM, is hanging fire even more than 16 years after the World Cup was successfully staged. The BCCI, in its latest balance sheet, has shown Rs 6.55 crore as receivable from PILCOM. During the financial year 2008-09, the BCCI received Rs 9.12 crore from PILCOM account maintained with Citi Bank in London. But the BCCI says there is some ambiguity about this amount, and therefore the confusion.