rahul-dravid

Rahul Dravid has been Indian cricket’s 911. In every crisis situation, including jobs other team members did not want to do, he was the go-to man. He was India’s quiet saviour in the dressing room as much he was the rescuer out in the middle — a quintessential team man.

Through his career Dravid had found many of his exploits getting overshadowed by a team-mate. On his Test debut alongside Sourav Ganguly at Lord’s in 1996, his innings of 95 was eclipsed by Ganguly’s 131; in the following Test, he got 84, but hundreds by Tendulkar and Ganguly stole the limelight. When he scored his first One-Day International (ODIs) in 1997, Saeed Anwar’s record 187 stole the thunder. In the epic 2001 Kolkata Test against Australia, which India won in Riplesque fashion afterfollowing 274 behind, Dravid’s 180 was outshone by VVS Laxman’s 281.

Dravid was a batting grammarian who stayed committed to the tenets of the coaching manuals. Even though he scored 10,000 runs in ODIS, he kept faith with orthodox methodology. “Dravid was akin to an elegant exposition of mathematical arguments or grammatical structures, timeless in significance, enjoyable to the connoisseurs of the subject,” as Arunabha Sengupta succinctly put it.

He batted with the patience of a monk: in India’s win at Adelaide in 2003 he batted 835 minutes in the Test while scoring 233 and 72 not out. Four months later at Rawalpindi, he batted 740 minutes for his 270 to help India win the series against Pakistan.

The end of his cricketing career was tragic. After three hugely successful series, Dravid had one poor series in Australia in 2011-12. The stinging criticism through the series was too much for a man who lived his life with dignity. He announced his retirement and left without any fanfare that has one has come to expect in the modern era. Even in retirement, he went an unsung hero.

Dravids’s volume of work over a 16-year period in Tests and ODIs combined is staggering: 508 matches, 24,177 runs, 48 hundreds and 396 catches. He was arguably the best Indian batsman after Sachin Tendulkar.

Dravid is universally acknowledged as one of the finest and most respected ambassadors of the game. The invite to deliver the Sir Bradman Oration, which he did with aplomb, underlined the cerebral side of his persona.

Rahul Dravid is an ornament to cricket.