From the publishers of THE HINDU
VOL.35 :: NO.12 :: Mar. 22, 2012
Rahul Dravid in the company of like-minded gentlemen, prolific scores in Test Cricket, Brian Lara and Ricky Pointing.
Team India was doing the pre-match warm up at the Wanderers on the second day of the Test in 1996 when Allan Donald ran past Rahul Dravid whispering the words, “Good morning Geoffrey”. The jibe implied that Dravid was taking too long to score his runs. Typical of Dravid, he ignored the taunt in the same manner he did the deliveries pitched outside the off stump. He went on to complete his maiden Test century and frustrate the South African attack for a long time. The same evening as the team was leaving for the hotel, Sachin Tendulkar looked at Rahul and said, “Aapan aaj raathri Chinese khavuyaa” in Marathi which I suppose meant, “We are having Chinese tonight”. The response for this invite cum compliment was a quiet nod from the polite rookie. Dravid had patented to respond to situations on the field as also the remarks with precision and aplomb. To do so over a matter of 16 years like a machine takes some doing and when he felt that the responses did not match the demands of the situation when the team needed them, Dravid decided to do something about it. His deliberation resulted in him quitting the international stage that he made his own with the utmost dedication, selflessness and commitment.
The press conference was addressed with the same precision that he handled more than 30,000 deliveries in Test cricket, but most importantly the best part about the occasion was the tie and jacket that Dravid chose to wear on the day he bid adieu. Even after all that he has achieved over the years, the inherent simplicity has remained intact in as much as the pride of wearing the India tie and blazer has. It is no wonder that parents wish that their kids emulate him more than the other superheroes of the World. He has been cited as an example not only within the cricketing fraternity but also in all other walks of life, a fact that I am sure will make even the modest Dravid proud.
The habit of citing Dravid for just about anything had reached a stage where it was taken for granted by a few that he cannot indulge in some personal pleasures and comforts. I heard of a very curious as well as a funny incident when Dravid acquired a fancy set of wheels sometime ago. Apparently a coach was in the habit of telling upcoming cricketers that focus on cricket should overlap the glitz and glamour and wound up by stating that Dravid still drove around in a mid-segment car. A few days later the coach saw Dravid drive into the stadium in his new car and grumbled to him that henceforth he would have to stop citing him as an example. When Dravid was appraised of the background he told the coach calmly to carry on with the same line but with a slight change that the fancy car was bought after 15 years of international cricket!
Dravid's timing of his retirement was discussed at length but what was missed amidst all the excitement was that he did not go to Australia because he succeeded in England. He went with the genuine intention of contributing to the team in Australia, a sojourn which was always a tough one. I find it strange to see people mulling whether he would have retired had he scored in Australia, but I seriously wonder if he would have been allowed to retire after the England tour as some have suggested. Quite obviously, he wanted the youngsters to have the benefit of easing into international cricket in familiar home territory. I am certain that he would have been picked for the home series if he were not to retire, but the point is that Dravid has been driven by challenges and true to his character he has seen things from the standpoint of Indian cricket even as he walked into the sunset. “I had to play for the right reasons,” is a statement that should be etched on the Wall that one gets to see upon entering the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Perhaps it should even be written and stuck by the youngsters on the insides of their kit bag.
The Colossus has left a huge void which may not be filled at all and if someone in the future ends doing half as much as Dravid did in his time, Indian cricket will become stronger and richer. However, I dare say that it will be a miracle to see someone play the game with such distinction in the dignified manner that Rahul Sharath Dravid did. He will be the one and only in that regard and it will be a trifle heart-wrenching in the months to come to see an Indian score sheet without one R. S. Dravid in it.
Thanks Jam, for all the joy you gave all these years while contributing immensely to Indian cricket. Please expect a call some years hence wherein you will have to confirm to my grandchildren that a legend called Dravid played under me for South Zone. I wish you all the very best in your future endeavours.
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