E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: When will we ever see a cricketer like Rahul Sharad Dravid again?
Facing the fastest of bowlers in spotless flannels not a crease or button out of shape; executing classy cuts and drive on off and leg; crouched at first slip with the same intensity of focus and concentration that made him the most difficult batsman to get out… the wall, if you will.
He is only retiring from the beautiful game, of course, but rare will be the cricket eye that will not wipe a tear of memory.
Dravid brought to his cricket that rare steely determination to rough out any situation out in the middle and rarer grace and conduct that embellished the game even more.
Taking upon himself things which he had never done before for the sake of the team or for sake of his captain was what cricket all about for him.
Be it opening the innings with Virender Sehwag in Pakistan or donning the wicket-keeper’s gloves for one-day internationals so that Sourav Ganguly could get the balance right, it was all part of Dravid’s unsaid commitment for the team. He took upon the new roles himself with nary a complaint.
Never was a word said against anything or anyone in public, for the cricket he had learnt and practiced would always be fair and can never be ungentlemanly.
If Lord’s didn’t bestow the rare honour of scoring a century on debut, when he was out for 96, Dravid came back after 16 years to score that elusive century on a tour in 2011 where he alone played a lone hand in the entire series, though for a losing cause. Dravid’s name went up at Lord’s as a centurian, a fitting honour for India’s best ever one-drop cricketer.
Dravid’s failure with the bat, if we can call the two months out of 17 years of Test cricket in Australia, surprised the cricketing world including his opponents. That is understandable. Time and again he was the wall between abject submission and victory.
Steve Waugh, looking for victory in India in what he called the Final Frontier ran into Laxman and Harbhajan Singh—and Dravid—who turned a certain defeat into victory at Eden Gardens.
Indian cricket will never be the same without Rahul Dravid, but then a generation of fans all over the world have been lucky to see one of the best cricketers of the game who had combined the craft of excellence in batting with grace, elegance and humility as his hallmark.
Good Bye, Rahul Dravid. And thanks for what you did both on and off the field.
So, when will we see a Rahul Sharad Dravid again?
Not in our life time, I guess.
Photograph: Rahul Dravid, Test cricket’s second most prolific batsman, after announcing his retirement from international cricket in Bangalore on Friday (Karnataka Photo News)
External reading: Suresh Menon in BBC: A special player