<This is not a place where I quote pages of statistics. The man is far, far above all that>
“Greatness was not handed to him; he pursued it diligently, single-mindedly.”
The perfect technique; impenetrable defense and classy offense. His mere presence demoralised even the best of bowlers and bought a sense of calm to an entire nation. He was the world’s best No.3 batsman and the foundation of the Holy Indian Pentad (incl. Sachin, Laxman, Sehwag and Ganguly).
This man is, obviously..
Rahul Sharad Dravid.
As everyone must be knowing, on 9th March 2012, after a personally fruitful tour of England, where he finally immortalized his name on the Lords Honors board after 15 years and a dismal tour of Australia, Dravid bid goodbye to International Cricket.
The quiet man that he is, he never wished for a full house or the euphoria of the final match. Very simply, he made his announcement at the ground where it all started for him, the Chinnaswamy Std (B’lore). The fitting farewell for India’s most dependable batsman.
His retirement has also left an enormous gap at No.3 in the test line-up. His departure signaled the start of the end of the Indian greats.
Rahul Dravid’s batting reflected the man that he was; filled with poise, upright and ready to face any ball (read challenge) at any time. Dravid and his game could never be named flamboyant. He built each and every innings, brick by brick and slowly, with a workman’s precision building a giant monument.
Yes, I said I wouldn’t dabble much on statistics. But, when someone has amassed more than 13,000 runs in Tests and 10,000 in ODIs, it is unfair to not mention the same. Between July ’02 to June ’06, Dravid accumulated 4316 runs with an average of 69.61 rivaled only by Ricky Ponting’s 71.44.
Even the most die-hard Sachin fans would have to agree Dravid was by far India’s best at his peak. (I do not care how loudly you protest against this!)
He is the only cricketer to score 10k runs at the coveted No.3 position and the only one to have faced more than 30k balls in Tests. Something we can never expect the T20 generation to ever replicate!
Although his batting has been touted as the most technically sound in the modern era and that there would never be anyone in the future who could match his by-the-books batting, his weary and tired face betrayed the fact that batting never came easily to him. He didn’t have the brutality of a Segway; he didn’t possess the fluidity of Laxman nor did he possess the sheer genius of Tendulkar.
Yet, he’s the one you’d want your son to see as a role model. Why? Cos, unlike his contemporaries, what he did have was patience. Lots and lots of patience. And the willingness to work as hard as he could. As Dileep Premachandran had famously said, he had “powers of concentration that were almost yogic”. He was a master of the dying art of batting time and thus was famously nicknamed The Wall.
He was the ultimate team man too. Strikingly selfless, he would agree to pop up in the most unlikely places: he batted everywhere from No1 to 7 in the Test team.
No one can forget the 180 he scored in the 2nd home test against the Aussies in 2001. With Laxman’s epic 281, Dravid ensured India won the match that so rightfully, should have been lost! During India’s 2003 WC, he agreed to play as wicket-keeper to add depth to the line-up and India emerged as runners-up.
It’s with a very heavy heart I bid farewell to Jammy. His heart-warming shots, that impeccable cover drive with that enormous stride; the exquisite footwork and the lately timed shots through midwicket. He shall, like all the greats before him, be sorely, sorely missed.
We all are lucky that cricket was blessed with the presence of Rahul Dravid for the 16 years that he played. He has left the game sweeter and richer than when he came and we can ask for no more from the Indian Great.
With loads and loads of respect and a tear,
Sreedeep Sreekanth, A Dravidian.
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