I am not one of those people who can rattle off cricket stats at the drop of a hat. I don’t watch every match, own an Indian jersey or sit motionless fearing a dismissal if I move a single inch. I myself would not call me a ‘fan’. Infact I would much rather watch one of the movies/ TV shows that I have recently downloaded instead of a match. You then maybe wondering what I am doing writing this post.
The fact that I am writing this after saying “I am not a cricket fan” should tell you about the aura of this man.
I admire him because through his single-mindedness he has achieved greatness. And he has not shirked away from the labour that was required. He is the only cricketer whose biography I have read & it tells the story of a simple person whose strength was demand for perfection. He is the gentlemen in the gentlemen’s game
“Some people are born great, some people have greatness thrust upon them” Rahul Dravid has demanded his greatness.
Living under the shadows of a man the nation considers God, he made his mark with the flick of his wrists. The true team man, changing, adapting as the situation demanded. He bore the brunt of the opposition, shielding the struggling “stars” on a nasty pitch & he bore the brunt of the spectators when there was a dot ball with the same stoic face. He gets dropped for youngsters when the team is riding the winning wave because he is too old, too slow. The same team wants him back when the youngsters fail, the hard hitters injured. Does he complain? Never.
When he does fail, because he is after all a man, he doesn’t make excuses. He does the only thing he knows: gets back to the grind. A sword, now blunt after so many battles is heated, hammered, quenched & sharpened back into shape.
He has done it all:Batting, fielding, captaincy, wicketkeeping. And has done them brilliantly.
There are lots of Rahuls but only one Dravid.
He has batted up & down the order, sometimes opening, many times consolidating & also finishing. What was to be a stopgap solution of a temporary wicketkeeper became permanent, because it allowed flexibility in the lineup. Still he played masterful knocks after those long squatting sessions behind the wickets. He was the captain during one of the toughest times. Even with all the mudslinging he came out with his head held high.
Others awe the crowd with their aerial shots, smashing aggressive boundaries. Flashy shots are not his forté, silken touch is. And the statistics tell you that. You could breathe easy knowing he was still there….as long as he held on there was hope. And boy can he hold on! So many indian wins have been sculpted with him as the bedrock.
A typical day in the life of Rahul Dravid:A big target, openers back in the pavilion, morale low, outlook bleak. he walks in, takes his stance & gets going. Swingers, bouncers, yorkers, spinners nothing fazes him. Dripping sweat, fighting cramps [oh those cramps!], losing partners he gets us home. Stuff of legend.
Today he will wear the Indian Blue for the last time. For us it will be emotional watching him play his last ODI, but like always he will be in his zen. Calm eyes looking dead ahead, bat tapping away, unmindful of the sweat dripping off his nose & the chaos around him. The Gladiator.
[images from espncricinfo]