March 10, 2012

The Death of a Class

Rahul dravid Candid Dressing room 
And so the man retired. It hasn't hit me fully yet, may be it will take time to realize that now, I will never be able to see one of my most cherished cricketing heroes on the field.

I don't quite remember how he made his debut for India. But in my initial years of watching cricket, I wasn't quite fond of him. His slow defensive style of batting was never exciting to see after the dismissal of the great Sachin in 1990s. But as the years went by and he improved his technique and I as a cricket fan learned that Cricket was more than just hitting 4s and 6s and what kind of joy watching a Test match can bring, I began to admire Dravid more and more.

Test cricket has always been his forte, but the way he improvised in One Day cricket (and recently in T20) was just phenomenal. It will remain a big lesson for cricketers that you don't need to be "God of Cricket", all you need is rock solid determination to excel, to earn people's respect.

There are a number of things that I loved in Rahul's batting. His rock solid defensive strokes were breath taking (a puritan will understand), his leaving the swinging and rising balls was a treat to watch, he was as good a hooker and puller of ball as anybody in Indian team, and his classic off-drives were the ones to pay for. But the most important thing in his batting for me was his flawless batting technique and elegance which can be matched by only a few in the world. What he brought to the batting crease was a sense of calm and a belief that at least one end of the batting was secured. And that sense, that belief, I never got even while Sachin was batting.

The tonnes of patience that he had, I believe if I could work with that much patience in my own field, I would be able to achieve virtually anything. He has always been a team man and the one who seldom showed his emotions. 

Dravid's records are incredible and something that any budding cricket would aspire for. But as Dravid himself once said, that if you are a decent enough cricketer you are bound to achieve all that if you play long enough. What makes great cricketers great is not the records they make, but how they play the game. Rahul sledging anyone is out of equation, but such was the respect for him in opposing teams and fans that I seldom saw Rahul getting sledged by anyone. I have stated that I don't have a role model as such, and I may never have one. But for me, he will always be someone to look up to.

When you play under the shadow of someone like Sachin, you are bound to remain under-appreciated. I always felt that his achievements were not as much celebrated as they deserved to be.

Interestingly though, he is a favorite of many a 'girl fans', which is surprising, since you would think that they will fall for some one like Yuvraj or MSD. I guess it shows women look more for stability in life rather than excitement.

He is called "The Wall" of Indian Cricket and I would say, aptly so. And that is why it was heart burning to see him, of all cricketers, getting bowled again and again and again Down Under. Dravid has said that he was going to review his future after the series anyway, so I wish like all other fans, that he could have had his last Hurrah at one of the best places to play cricket.

Pics taken from Flickr Under CC license.

This is not the way he deserved to leave Cricket. But I am glad he left Cricket on his own terms. Good Bye Jammy, without you Cricket will never be the same for me.