Rahul Dravid: 1996-2012
Rahul Dravid announced his retirement from test cricket. Deccan Herald reported his last press conference:
“I will miss that process of training,” he admitted. “I have lived the routine, going to the KSCA or NCA every morning. My wife says you have to get out of your routine! My new routine will be buying the groceries and going to pick my sons from school, dropping them to school…”
Being an international sportsperson means not always being in a position to do everyday things. At 39, Dravid will take his first tentative steps towards a ‘normal’ life, having spilled blood, sweat and a few tears in improving the stock of the Indian cricket team.
As Dravid saunters away into the sunset, he leaves behind a million doubts. Who next? Who will be the next Wall? “I’d like to say that there is a huge group of young Indian players who can be better than Rahul Dravid,” he said, and sincerely so. “I would love to believe that in 16-17 years, you will be attending a press conference of a player who has done lot more than I have.”
What a lovely thing to say!
The Hindu quoted several older cricketers. My favourite of the comments:
G.R. Viswanath: “I remember when he repeatedly got out to a moving ball on one of the tours, he came back and hit 1000 hanging balls to rid of his problem.
He was a thinking cricketer with vast amounts of concentration. In my time, Sunil Gavaskar had that quality and after him it was Rahul.”
The former India captain and coach [Ajit Wadekar] also felt that like Dilip Vengsarkar before him, Dravid’s great innings had been overshadowed by others during his long career.
“Some of his greatest innings (notably of 180 against Australia) was overshadowed by VVS Laxman (281) (in 2000-01 at Kolkata). In this respect, he was like Dilip Vengsarkar whose knocks had been overshadowed by Sunny (Gavaskar),” Wadekar said.
Interestingly, Cricket Country quoted Gavaskar taking a long view:
Legendary Sunil Gavaskar said Rahul Dravid’s decision to bid adieu to the game has left a big hole in Indian cricket.
“It will be a big hole to fill. It was a decision in the pipeline for some time, because once a player gets 35-36, talks of leaving the game are at the back of his mind, so really didn’t come as a surprise,” he said.
“We always think, not only in cricket but in different walks of life, it will be difficult to replace somebody. While obviously the style will be very different, there will be younger players coming,” Gavaskar said.
“The results will not be immediate but they will be soon enough. Indian cricket fans will have some new hero to look up to, some new idol to cheer. That is the nature of the sport,” he further added.
That’s true of course, but Gavaskar must have said something nice about Dravid. Turn to the UK Telegraph for that:
“There was and is only one Rahul Dravid,” Tendulkar said. “There can be no other. I will miss Rahul in the dressing room and out in the middle.
“I have shared the best moments with him. Our many century partnerships are testimony to the hours we spent together in the middle.
“For someone who has played 164 matches and (made) over 13,000 runs, no tribute can be enough.”
Sunil Gavaskar, India’s outstanding batsman of any previous era, also spoke eloquently of Dravid’s contribution and legacy to cricket.
“On and off the field, (he was) a terrific role model to youngsters with his work ethic, the way he carried himself and applied himself,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“He was the guy youngsters in the dressing room looked up to. Sachin would always be the guy who inspired awe. But a lot of players knew Sachin was something special, while they could all be Rahul Dravid.
“Rahul was one of them, working hard – there really is going to be a big void in Indian cricket now.”