Rahul Dravid has announced retirement today from all forms of cricket. It is a sappy moment, more sad. Even though it’s a Fri eve, I just wanted to come home (with a coffee).
He was one of the strong pillars of THE golden era of India’s batting line up. Batting at No. 3, he would often find himself at crease with team’s score in single digit. It gives a flashback of many many overseas test matches. But he will be remembered not for how many runs he scored or how many catches he grasped, it’s the manner he got them. If there is one word to describe him, discipline! Think about it. What will happen if you bring the same discipline in your work what Dravid brought with his bat? You will be surprised by results. I remember my Mama, for whom I have utmost respect, used to tell me: Become like Dravid, not like Sachin. Dravid is more disciplined and consistent. I would give a vertical nod but silently disagreed.
He became Mr. Dependable and I was privileged to witness that process. He has enjoyed support of millions of fans and rightly so. He went about his business in a methodical way and was highly acknowledged. No man can make every one happy. A man shouldn’t waste his time in trying it either. Pick any famous person, he will always have a for and against team chasing him. But in Dravid’s case, the against team is seriously weak and left behind. He became recipient of such love and trust only because of his hard work and work ethic. If I had to pick 2 batsmen to bat for my life, it would be Sachin and Dravid. They are the unnamed coaches of thousands of kids who pick up a cricket bat.
Ganguly is correctly credited for changing mind-set of a billion that we can win overseas. But Dravid was the catalyst in bringing that change. If Ganguly was the King, then Dravid was the King-Maker or the Queen. Like a Queen moves in Chess, Dravid moved in all directions: captained, vice-captained, opened the batting, batted at 3, batted at middle order, kept wickets and even attended the press conf when asked to do. Most of these did not come to him naturally. These were tough challenges, but he tried to fit in. He was like the joker in deck of cards. But even a deck has 2 jokers.
He did reasonably well in everything he was forced to do. This is what separates him from other cricketers and makes him a role model material. Captaining, I believe, was the toughest challenge. It coincided with Greg Chappell’s tenure as coach, we all know that didn’t help. We exited from 2007 WC in 1st round. It was a shocker. But like a good leader, he took the blame on chest. He himself was going through a tough form. The cricketer in a man can be sine function but the man in a cricketer must be linear function. Dravid was only heading north in that graph…
The innings at Adelaide when he scored more than 300 runs in a match remains my fav. Not because of the amount of runs, but venue and image of Indian team overseas. I remember following that match live. On Day 5, I could almost sense that am witnessing a historic moment. Dravid square-cut MacGill for a boundary and out came his baggy cap and up it went with his bat. He has played many such impact innings that changed the result of the match, often series.
His firm defense, cover drive with forward stride, front foot pull, whip through midwicket will always be cherished. But as I said earlier, it’s the correctness, cleanliness and never-say-die approach that makes you admire him. He has performed at the highest level for 16 years. It’s a tribute to his hard work, consistency, sportsmanship, focus and stamina.
You can sense a method in almost every thing Rahul Dravid did. Even off the field. His retirement thankfully did not become a joke. Every sportsman knows when it’s time to call it off. If they go by fans opinions, then players like Dravid and Sachin will even have to take their cricket gear to heaven :). His gear will still be used in IPL, you got to thank IPL for at least (or only) that.
I hope Dravid stays close to the game in some way. He would make a fine ambassador for the game. It’s hard to see it though after what happened to Kapil Dev, Vengsarkar and recently Kumble. But as he mentioned in his address, his wife has been like a single parent raising their kids while he was touring to play. He deserves to spend more time with family and his family would hardly complain. I thank Rahul Dravid for exemplifying such values and wish him best luck for his 2nd innings with family!
Leaving you with his retirement address…