Rahul Dravid unarguably and I use this word with much confidence here, was India’s finest no 3 batsman. A position he owned because of the amount of runs he made and how he got them. He made runs all over the world in difficult conditions where it seamed and swung he was more at ease than other Indian batsman because of his tight technique. A brilliant slip catcher, a record holder for playing 84 test matches without a break is a testimony to the dedication and his fitness. He is the record holder for the number of catches as a fielder in test cricket. Dravid was the quintessential team man, he kept wickets to provide the team the luxury to go in with seven proper batsman and then opened in test match cricket in few of the games.
Dravid played his cricket like the person he is, very studious methodical approach to the game. He lead India for almost two years but the batting was his forte. One of the best technicians of the game he was nicknamed THE WALL just for the impeccable defence he possessed. Yes, his defence was as perfect as it could get, his steeliness so admirable, but he played shots that warmed the heart. The cover drive, with the big stride forward, and the prettiest of them all – the whip through midwicket played so late and while so nimble on his toes. Few of us know he is the joint record holder for the fastest fifty in ODI cricket of 22 balls. He once played a stunning innings of 92 of just 63 balls against England at Bristol that showed if you are good enough to bat for hours in test cricket than you are more than good to smash them around when the need of the hour is to bash them.
But test cricket is where he made his mark and gained the respect of not only his teammates but also of the opposition and that’s what I think is his biggest achievement. He played his cricket at a time when Sachin was the toast of the nation and in later half Sehwag made a niche for himself but the people with the knowledge of the game will know that Dravid played some of the more crucial innings that made a generation believe yes we can win outside India and was one of the solid reasons why India attained the no 1 ranking. His double hundreds each one of them whether it’s Adelaide , The Oval, Rawalpindi or his innings in Headingley in 2002 on a seaming pitch and many more resulted in famous Indian victories.
Apart form cricket He is one of the best speakers in Indian Cricket the skill He showed when he delivered the Sir Bradman Oration lecture where He showed his deep rooted knowledge of Indian Domestic Cricket and the importance of a cricket fan and what should be done to take Indian Cricket forward. He is missed as the greats always are and I hope that BCCI will make good use of his knowledge by making him a part of the administration.
He retired a year ago but every time we are in a mess I wish he could once again pad up and come out and do what he has done all through his career that is to steer India out of the trouble. A batting coach could easily play his tap and take rest if he wants to and tell his pupils to just watch and say this is how you should bat if you want to excel in all conditions. His home and away averages have sat close together. It is the mark of a genuinely great player.
Today I write this article for the sheer joy of a Dravid fan on his selection for the Padma Bhushan award. Well played, Sir. You have the honour of leaving the game richer with your legacy and none of us can ask for anything more than that. They don’t make them like that any more. Thank You Sir it was a pleasure watching you bat.