Rahul Sharad Dravid has been my favorite “Cricketer” since the summers of 1996. I’ve followed his cricket way before he came to international cricket, through sport magazines. This article was due since long and after many of such articles trashing out, finally I’ve decided to write for this humble, brilliant and knowledgeable cricketer.
We have seen so many promising cricketers not getting an opportunity at the top level or if they get a chance, not performing at international arena. The best example of the first category is “Amol Mazumdar”, the Mumbaikar who never made it to the big league despite of his extraordinary talent, at least for longer version of the game. Whatever the reasons may be, the chap never got a chance at the top level.
Rahul Dravid may had fall in the same category, when he was given an opportunity in a resurgent Indian One Day squad, the team with bruised reputation and dented confidence after 1996 world cup semi-final. The batsman (Dravid) considered a future hope for Test Cricket was given opportunity in limited version of the game. Such things happen in India and BCCI, but one cannot blame those “wise men” sitting in the board room about everything.
Dravid the “Test Batsman” has done a lot and there will be very few who’ll genuinely argue over his achievements in the longest format of the game. However, many of the experts, non-experts and critics have time and again raised the question about his ability in limited overs game. Let’s talk something about Dravid the “ODI Player”.
After a disastrous run in his debut series in Singapore, Dravid announced his arrival at the Lords, as a test batsman batting at number seven. Thanks to the injured Manjrekar and agitated Siddhu who decided to quit the test in between a tough series over some issues with the management. However, Dravid tasted very little success in limited overs with few innings against Republic of South Africa which were reputation saving innings for Indian Batting lineup. After few more matches and some failures, Dravid was dropped from the squad.
The fighter inside Dravid took every opportunity during his career positively and after each failure, he came back strongly and better equipped. After the New Zealand Tour in 1999 he never looked back. Be it a top scorer in 1999 World Cup, the tours of Australia, Pakistan and West Indies, he remained the main stay and proved his value in the team authoritatively. Just to provide the right balance to the team, he took up the job of wicket keeper; remember he was the vice-captain and a regular in the ODI team.
The contribution of Dravid to the ODI team cannot be quantified or measured. We cannot measure the discipline and utmost dedication towards his game and that so when he was on peak of his game and was almost having a fix place in the team. What Dravid showed all of us, that nothing should be taken for granted and no matter how big you make, keep your feet grounded, that will help you keep your head high. He also taught how to enhance your limited skill through hard work and dedication.
He took up the leadership when arguably one of the best leaders of Indian Cricket “Sourav Ganguly” had resigned and the Chappelgate had struck the Indian Cricket very badly. He led the team to a world record run of winning while chasing (16 in a row), that was the time when the Team India became better chasers. Thou the dip came during 2007 world cup disaster, but there also we witnessed that he was the lone warrior fighting it out there against Sri Lanka. The bad performance of team India has nothing to do with his leadership, which was also realized by the team of selectors and they continued him as the captain of the team. However, looks like the guilt of such disastrous performance of the team has invigorated the resignation from captaincy, which finally surfaced during England tour the very next year. And very quickly he lost his position in the team.
Thankfully after getting dropped unceremoniously, he was given the chance to retire on his own terms or at least gracefully announce his retirement.
With Dravid retiring from limited overs cricket, a different art of batsman ship has retired. With him a master of mastering the skill beyond one’s ability has retired. With him the best partnership builder has retired. With him has retired a sportsman who was often marked unfit for the shorter version of game and still managed to play 300+ games and 10000+ runs, and involved in top two 300+ partnership only because of his ability to sustain at the highest level.
The players like Dravid are born once in an era. He may not as gifted as Sachin Tendulkar, he may not be as flashy as Sehwag or Yuvraj, he may not be as aggressive as Ganguly, he may not be having as big a fan following as some of the players in his era had, but he is an example for all those players having limited skills that they can achieve big with their hard work, grit, discipline and dedication.
The ODI career of Dravid started and ended in the Shadow of the biggest sensation of cricket history, Sachin Tendulkar. But you cannot compare both of them as they are of different category. How can you compare the heat of fire with the coolness of iceberg? How can you compare the aggression of fire spreading in a jungle with that of overflowing river during flood? Dravid has his own, unique way of showing aggression, which is silent, less glamorous yet effective. His conduct on and off the field has earned a lot of respect for him in the cricketing arena including the toughest competitors.
“The Great Wall of India” (a title which he hates) will stand tall and will inspire many of us who may have a different career path than cricket, that if we follow good work ethics we can succeed. As every good thing has to, the “Dravidian Era” has ended in ODIs