Well, though this article is about Rahul Dravid, as you go through it, you might find references and comparisons to other great Indian Cricketers, most notably Sachin Tendulkar because time and again we have seen that when some columnist talks about Dravid, he invariably makes a mention of Sachin and i am no different, though vice versa may not be true. You can find enough material written about Sachin without mentioning any other cricketer. And if you find me biased, Please excuse me for that.
Not so long time ago, A young Rahul Dravid made his tryst with Destiny when he debuted at Lordsâ€™ in England(i say not so long time ago because it seems like yesterday when i was at my Maternal grand motherâ€™s home to spend my summer vacations and i saw him bat for the first time). Time Really flies by. Rahul Dravid struck an instant cord with me. What better place could destiny choose for the arrival of My GOD of Cricket on International cricket circuit than the Mecca of Cricket itself!!
And now 15yrs later, he continues to do what he does best, that being, guiding Team India to glorious Test victories on foreign soil pretty much single-handedly and maintaining a low profile.
The Three Muskeeteers
Dravid is probably the most â€˜under-talked aboutâ€™ Cricketing Great. He never mind living in the shadows of The Great Sachin Tendulkar- The God of Cricket and The Maverick Sourav Ganguly- The God on Off-side as said by Dravid himself. His stint with getting over-shadowed started way back on his debut itself. Since then, its been a trend. Whenever Dravid excelled, someone over-shadowed him be it Sachin, Ganguly, Laxman, Sehvag or anybody else. And this has happened on more than one occasion. What people donâ€™t realise is that on all such occasions, there were different people on one end, but there was one person consistently on the other end. Silently going about his work, Dravid carved his own Legend in the Tales of Indian Cricket.
When he first started, Dravid was tagged as a Test Specialist, and probably he was, because that was his natural style of playing. He wasnâ€™t a gifted talent like Sachin but he adapted to the needs of the current style of cricket. He wasnâ€™t Born Great but He became Great.
Before being dumped from Indian ODI team unceremoniously after the 7 match ODI series against Aussies in 2007 in favor of promoting the â€˜Young Gunsâ€™, he had gone on to score 10,000 + runs in One day Cricket. But that still doesnâ€™t deter people from saying that he is a test player. As they say, First Impression is the Last Impression.
We Indians by default are extremists and our minds are not flexible. We just donâ€™t want to see how this man went against his natural play and adapted himself to the needs of ODI cricket and actually developed as a Finisher batting at Position 5 or 6 for India. He even donned the wicket-keeping gloves for the sake of the team. While some people call it a compromise to salvage his place in the team, i choose to call it â€˜Sacrificeâ€™ because it seems so out of place to say that a man who went on to score 10,000 runs and who was the vice-captain of the side was actually trying to salvage his place. But in Indian Cricket, there are no points for Adaptability. Once a Test Player, always a Test Player. Even the IPL team which was assimilated by him in the first season was termed as a Test Team. Though everybody forgot that the same team went on to play finals in IPL-2.
But nothing matters. People still love to mock Rahul. The other day, when RR was playing against MI at their home ground and trounced them by 10 wickets, at one point, Rahul was batting on 17 and Shane Watson on 71. A guy in my Hostel Common Room made this interesting observation and the other guys felt it their National Duty to laugh at it. I felt really annoyed and wanted to ask him, where the hell were you the day when RR had 84 runs on board against CSK and Dravid had scored 66 of those?? Ironically, Indiaâ€™s 2nd fastest 50 in ODI has been scored by Dravid.
But i guess his Credentials regarding Faster Format of the game will always remain doubtful. and i will never understand why. Because the stats tell me that He scores just 2runs/100 balls slower than the ODI specialist Sourav Ganguly. Even in IPL, he is the 13th highest run-getter, with a strike rate better than the likes of Kallis, Ganguly, Gibbs, Duminy and Graeme Smith, and an average better than Gilchrist, Yusuf pathan, Yuvraj, Uthappa and many other so called Specialists of Faster format. He was the highest run-scorer for RR this season for Godâ€™s sake. I guess its just a Taboo that Rahul has to live with forever. Not that he minds it, but i do being his Staunch Fan.
I wonder why he dont deserve to be in the ODI Team or Why He didnâ€™t deserve to touch the WC Trophy or Why He didnâ€™t deserve to be retained by his IPL Team or Why He doesnâ€™t deserve as much money at the auctions as the â€˜Godsâ€™ and the â€˜Gunsâ€™ or Why He doesnâ€™t deserve the worldâ€™s attention or Why the commentators, expert columnists, fans, media, and franchisees shouldnâ€™t go ga-ga over Rahul Dravid. Why??
May be because he is not entertaining because to be entertaining, you need to dance on the wicket(like Kevin Peterson) or down the wicket, because he is not vocal or expresses his emotions in public, he is not flashy, he doesnâ€™t give tantrums, He doesnâ€™t give you stare in the eyes with Cameras taking close shots of your face, he doesnâ€™t have hook-ups with bollywood heroines(the only thing he hooks beautifully is a bouncer), or may be because He doesnâ€™t pull of his shirt, may be because he is not surrounded by controversies. May be his biggest sin was playing in the era of The great Sachin, because in any other era, may be 10 years before Sachin or 10 years after Sachin, it would have been Dravidâ€™s era, or may be his biggest sin is that He manages all those runs in IPL and Tests with just 19 sixes each.
If only he had learnt to hit 6â€²s, If only he was as Lucky as Dhoni, If only he had learnt not to be a Gentleman both on and off the field, if only he was flamboyant enough to be in news for all the right or the wrong reasons, He would have been something else. May be then he would have been a hit amongst the Media and the Corporate franchisees. But Thank god he is not all of that because then he probably wouldnâ€™t have been my God of Cricket.
Now Dravid is just Playing Tests, 14-20 innings in an year, always under scrutiny. One failure, and people want to hang his boots till death. Unlike other players who have the chance to redeem themselves in the ODIs and T20s if they fail in tests.
Unfazed by all these questions and scrutinies, Dravid is still silently going about doing his job, that being guiding India to Famous Test wins on Foreign Soil.
Soon he will be standing at the same place where he started his journey in International Test Arena for the 4th and probably the last time. Another circle will be completed. From there on, how long Dravid will extend the arc, nobody knows. But sooner or later He will hang his boots and so will Sachin Tendulkar. They Both will Walk away helding their heads high. One with all the glory and Spot-lights, other will just silently walk away into oblivion. Rahul could never manage to be in media spotlight even when he was active in ODIs or even still when he is active in Test cricket. How can we expect him to remain in limelight after his retirement(Probably with Sachin around, Media has enough on plate. They donâ€™t feel like talking about anyone else. Thats why Sachin completed his 50th 100 in Test matches and everybody rejoiced, but Dravid completed 12,000 runs in the same match and nobody realised). One will remain etched in memories of crores of Indians with the list of all the records and the Tag of â€˜God Of Cricketâ€™, other will just vanish.
But one thing makes me wonder. Would Sachin be able to amass all those glory and records had Rahul not been there?
Case Study: India vs England at Leeds in August 2002. A deadly Pitch and some furious bowling. Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Bangar put up a brave front. Bangar went on to score 90 odd runs while Dravid made a fighting 148. But in the Same innings Sachin scored 193 runs. Inspite of which, it was Dravid who was awarded Man of the match award because everybody realised that the amount of Grit, Courage, Struggle and Sweat that went into those 193 was not even half of what went into those 148.
The above was a Prime example of how Dravid usually makes it easier for the later batsmen to score runs. Because by the time Sachin or Sourav arrived, the bowlers were already tired and frustrated, the bounce and movement had decreased and the dew had evaporated. It is well known fact that Sachin never prefers to leave his no. 4 Spot(except probably for a night-watchman). Even after being a regular opener in ODIs, he would never volunteer to bat as a makeshift opener in Tests if need be. He always prefers Top 3 batsmen to take the shine away from the ball, and who better than Dravid to do that job?
I wonder if Dravid was not there to score those 148, could Sachin still have gone on to score those 193?? May be.. May be not. We will never know but Dravid has played not one but many such innings.
As they say, In a Temple, Even â€˜Godâ€™ lives behind and protected by â€˜The Wallâ€™. If there was no â€˜Wallâ€™ to weather the storm as Dravid himself puts it, i donâ€™t know how much greatness could the â€˜Godâ€™ have achieved. It would always remain an unresolved debate whether Dravidâ€™s brilliance at No. 3 had anything to do with Sachinâ€™s mountain of runs? Would Sachin still have got those many runs had Rahul not been there at No. 3? There is no Genius who is genius enough or a Super computer which is advanced enough to estimate or compute Dravidâ€™s contributions in Sachinâ€™s Greatness. And we will never know. But i dont care.
The Writing is on The 'Wall'
For me Rahul Dravid is My God of Cricket. When i stand outside the â€˜Temple of Cricketâ€™, i wouldnâ€™t care about the â€˜Godâ€™ sitting inside. Iâ€™d rather bow to the battered and bruised â€˜Wallâ€™ outside and walk away.
Currently, Cricket has become a dirty Game of Slogging, edges and ugly unorthodox 6â€²s and 4â€²s. They play all sorts of weird looking strokes which resemble more like Tennis, Golf or Baseball shots. There is also one Helicopter Shot. Few people call it Gully Cricket. I call it Ugly Cricket. Thank God, I have Rahul Dravid. His Drives are still awesome and his Hooks, Pulls and Square Cuts are still Pure Divine. Iâ€™m watching Cricket as long as Rahul Dravid is playing the shots.
Love You RD. But more than that, I Respect you for all that you have done for the Cricket, Team India and for me. You are a Hero. May be unsung, but still a Hero.
Brilliant write up...the best article about RD i have ever read...Thanks BC for sharing this.
The reason why i love dravid is one of the points given in the article i.e. living in the shadows of great Sachin and hence has definitely not got the recognition, credit that he deserves. The below para sums up all...outstanding
"Whenever Dravid excelled, someone over-shadowed him be it Sachin, Ganguly, Laxman, Sehvag or anybody else. And this has happened on more than one occasion. What people donâ€™t realise is that on all such occasions, there were different people on one end, but there was one person consistently on the other end" :amen: :amen:
This article made me like RD by many folds. Happy birth day Rahul Dravid, "My GOD of Cricket" too :amen: :amen: