Dravid calls it a day

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Friday, March 09, 2012


I was in my high school when Dravid made his Test debut at much coveted Lord’s. I remember discussing with my friends about the century made by Ganguly – the other legend and the then debutant in the same game and a nearly missed century by Dravid. This episode made me like Dravid, like the way I love any underdog! In later games and tours, I realized, I was loving Dravid for all the wrong reasons! After all, he was not an underdog; he was a silent giant with unmatchable patience and determination, always masked by his modesty. 

We choose our heroes. Dravid could be a very unlikely hero. He was not termed a genius like Sachin, he seriously lacked aggression that Ganguly showed on and off the pitch, most of his good performances were often overshadowed by other legends in the team. I have cringed many times, when the match was actually saved by Dravid, but he ended up being the 2nd top scorer of the side. Dravid was never an attacking batsman [I had jumped off my seat when he had scored a six off Allan Donald, that went like a rocket propelled parallel to the ground and very few such handful of moments I remember and cherish], his strength was his solid defense, his perseverance, his ability to take back seat and let his partner at the other end attack. I am sure, when The Wall was at the other end of the wicket; batsmen have swung their bat freely without any inhibitions. Ravi Shastri once rightly said, it is not the number of centuries of half centuries that measures the greatness of players like Dravid. It is his number of double and triple century partnerships he has produced with his teammates. Yes, he was such a player. He was the damage controller of our team, when we lost wickets in quick succession, when our openers could not stand against the pace attacks on foreign pitches, Mr dependable at No.3 would take over. 

Sometimes when India used to lose badly in tests on foreign pitches, ignoring the team’s performance, I remember glancing through the scorecards hoping to see Dravid as the lead scorer of the team. Such was and still is my loyalty for Dravid. 

I am bad at statistics. Ask me the best centuries by Dravid, I would surely fumble. But I do remember things like how Jonathan Trott wished Dravid after latter’s last ODI innings in England in last September. I am sure Indians would want to forget this tour of England where we were beaten black and blue in test series. Then selectors threw a surprise to Dravid and his fans by selecting him for the ODI side after many years. Soon Dravid announced his retirement and said, that ODI series would be his last which left BCCI red faced. So in September 2011, Dravid was to play his last ODI international, the last of the 5 match series. India batted first. After scoring a half century and sharing a good partnership with Kohli, Dravid was bowled out by Swann. Dravid, being a true gentleman, started to walk towards the pavilion. Then most of the English players came to Dravid and shook his hand wishing him on his last ODI. But, Jonathan Trott did something unusual. He took his cap off before shaking Dravid’s hand. Now, that’s the respect Dravid had earned from his opponents. That’s greatness of Dravid, to be respected by his teammates as well as by his opponents. It’s easy and very natural to be disliked by the opponents, but it requires true character to be respected by the opponents. Well, it was nice of Trott too to gesticulate that way. That’s how Dravid played Cricket. That’s what he meant when he said, it is important to be respected in the dressing room as well as on field by opponents in Sir Bradman Oration speech he delivered recently in Australia.  

Well, retirement in sports is tricky. It has to come at the right moment, before you are made to feel your services are no longer required for the team. Not all get a heroic farewell. Dravid too did not get. Even if he had got big scores in the last tour of Australia, I doubt it would have fit into Dravid’s scheme of things. He made a silent entry; he has now made a silent exit. In the midst, he has scored a whopping 24000+ runs collectively in both the forms of the game. I think this figure speaks volumes about this man.

To end my tribute to my hero, I would like to quote from my favorite cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle from this column about Dravid – “He will be missed, as the great always are. He will see his children grow, take them to school, imbibe in them the reading habit (for he read more than most people I know and couldn't understand why others didn't), but from time to time he must tell the new flowers that will inevitably bloom in our cricket of the need to put grit over beauty, team over self, challenge before rejection, humility before arrogance, for that is what he stood for.”

Good bye Dravid, you will always be my hero…….