Hava Nagila!

Everything does pass, and we can endure and we can survive!! – Rahul Dravid

Rahul Dravid – A tribute!

Rahul Sharad Dravid has retired from International cricket today saying he wants to enjoy the simpler things in life; with this he is denying me the greatest pleasure that I have had till date – watching him play! He has chosen to go as quietly as he came. Just a press conference and one of the best retirement speeches the world will ever hear marked his farewell. No gaga, no riding on team mate’s shoulders, no salutes; just the quiet dignity that he likes.

He was not talked about when he made his debut at Lords. He was constantly overshadowed by others when he reached his milestones. Yet, he made those milestones, like all of us do in our everyday lives. He was not flamboyant like Tendulkar, he was not as elegant as Lara, he was not the hitter that Viv Richards was; he was the best there was/ is/ can be and hence there can be no comparisons. Quoting Harsha Bhogle, “Dravid batted at No.3, the benchmark for which is the benchmark of batting itself.” I would call him as would many others – The Don Bradman of our times. Often splendour overshadows class, but then class is class and Rahul Dravid is arguably the best in that space. He is elite when it comes to gentlemanly behavior on and off the field, putting the team and the game above himself, being humble and other such noble traits.

He possessed awesome will power, an undying passion for cricket and exemplary attitude among many other qualities. He had the ability to focus on the game for long periods, unwaveringly; he had the courage to face and come out of failure. The fervour with which he played for Team India has few similes.

For 16 years, the India cap stood proudly on her greatest son. In my opinion, he is the greatest player to have worn the Indian colours. What is the Indian team without Rahul Dravid? I cant see another person walking in at No.3.

If someone had told me greatness takes human avatars, I wouldn’t have believed it. But then I have seen Rahul Dravid – a perfect combination of perennial class and brilliant mind. And hence, I believe it!

It is not the quantity of runs (which he has in plenty) that made him nonpareil, it is the quality of his conviction, his brilliant technique and his unreserved love for cricket that make him irreplaceable. The quality that endeared him to me most is his willingness to do anything that the team asked for. Open the innings, batting at No.3, No.7, keep wickets, captain, on a rare occasion even bowl. I have seen in his rise a very structured approach, a very constant improvement; something that every man must have, not just in cricket, but in everyday life.

As a child in Class 4, when his teacher questioned them what he wanted to become, Dravid had replied, “I want to play cricket for India.” What else would you expect from such a man?

  • 13288 test runs, an average of 52.31, 36 test centuries, 10889 ODI runs at an average of nearly 40, a century in every test playing nation and against every test playing nation, twice winner of the ICC Player of the Year award, the statistics are, for want of a better word, staggering.
  • Together with Sachin, he holds the record of the highest aggregate partnership ever by any pair – 6920 runs in 143 innings with 20 century stands and 29 fifty run stands.
  • He decorated the slip cordon and has the highest number of catches in the world – 210.
  • He has 14 stumpings in ODI matches; infact, Brendon McCullum and Alec Stewart have just one more. He is India’s 4th successful wicket keeper with 86 dismissals from 72 innings, just 4 short of Kiran More and much more than the great Syed Kirmani, Parthiv Patel and Dinesh Kartik who were/ are full time keepers. Such was his commitment to the tasks which he took up.
  • In IPL, he is the 13th highest run getter; in fact he has more runs than Yuvraj Singh, Mathew Hayden, Chris Gayle, who are known as big hitters. Like it or not, he is a more successful captain than Ganguly. His winning % as a captain in ODIs, even after the infamous World Cup 2007 debacle is 56%, Ganguly’s is 53.9%. He is second only to MS Dhoni. In Tests, his WinLoss ratio is 1.33 – very much comparable to Ganguly’s 1.61.

He is the one the team has turned to when faced with utter turmoil including the forgettable Guru Greg era, the numerous scandalous overseas performances without Dravid and many more. He has always responded positively. Many of his beautiful knocks, long stands and centuries have come in the toughest of conditions. He is an epitome of character and mental stamina. His batting DVDs are lessons for any aspiring cricketer.

I love every run of his, nonetheless, my favourites are the feat at Rawalpindi, the one at Adelaide 2003 – 2004, the century knock at Johannesburg, his centuries at Lords and Jamaica in 2011 and that unforgettable match winning act at Kolkata. There is a definite something that his bat does other than just hitting runs. In ODIs, I love his exploits in the 1999 and 2003 World Cups, his centuries in Sabina Park and New Zealand and the wonderful runs he made in Chennai against Pakistan, albeit to a lost cause.

Other pens, blogs and mouths will describe his achievements too, much better than I will ever be able to. Some of which he will read and hear, some of which he won’t. I know mine will belong to the latter. Yet, how can I not talk about my idol, my favourite cricketer, my greatest strength, my hero?

I am still not able to come to terms with his retirement. It is a wrench to think that I will never see those classic cover drives, that lovable, rock solid forward defence, those graceful leg glances, the spectacular square cuts and superb flicks off the pad. The world has lost its best batsman today. No other public event has made me shed tears. I suppose then, that this loss is greater than all others.

I get angry if after just 7 years in an IT company, they ask me to prove my worth. Here is a man who has consistently proved himself at one of sport’s highest stages. It is easy to appreciate and criticize Rahul Dravid, but it is just impossible to BE Rahul Dravid. Like Sachin has rightly summed, “There can only be one Dravid and I salute him.”

He is not the God of cricket, he is not the Prince of Kolkata, he is not Punter; he is Cricket itself. According to me, cricket has retired today. With his retirement, I feel that there is nothing left to watch barring perhaps Sachin’s 100th ton. He surely is, much more than just The Wall.

Who said good guys don’t come first?

Close on the heels of the splendid Bradman Oration comes his final note – with sadness and with pride – Finally, I would like to thank the Indian cricket fan, both here and across the world. The game is lucky to have you and I have been lucky to play before you. To represent India, and thus to represent you, has been a privilege and one which I have always taken seriously. My approach to cricket has been reasonably simple: it was about giving everything to the team, it was about playing with dignity, and it was about upholding the spirit of the game. I hope I have done some of that. I have failed at times, but I have never stopped trying. It is why I leave with sadness but also with pride.

He has been one of the finest sportsman that the world has seen thus far. He has played like a true legend, grew into a veteran and is now entering into the realms of eternal glory! Very deservedly so!

To one of the best ambassadors of Indian cricket and sport in general, I raise my hat and toast – Thank you Rahul Dravid! What would Indian cricket have done without you?

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2 comments on “Rahul Dravid – A tribute!

  1. Anonymous
    March 10, 2012

    Fantastic……… I hve been open in showin my dislike whn ppl praise or compare Dravid over Sachin or Ganguly………… I really think these 3 r uncomparable…. they all played the same game (ones still going), almost during the sametime, however their contributions have not been exact, though the final goal was Indian team winning the game………… one commanded the team, one commands the game and another one was high above all tryin to make sure that the opponent does not penetrate with the strange swinging yorker or crafty spin………… man how can anyone knowing this compare these three…………. Im here to say “meeena its a fantastic article…. whn i was watchin news today I could imagine u n chithi sittin arnd n discussin abt his retirement n im sure both of u must hve lost few hours of sleep as well today, talkin abt how much he has played n alll :-)………….

  2. Ramesh Swaminathan
    March 16, 2012

    Great Article on the Great Man …I also liked his sense of humour during the press conference… he said he never took the term WALL seriously and told that the media was setting him up and any batting failure they would say.. a hole in the wall… etc

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This entry was posted on March 9, 2012 by in Thoughts and tagged , , , .

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