Walls are concrete defenses that protect an area or a confine from external damage, interference or harm. But, when you take the word in the context of cricket, you find a dependable and an able personality.
Rahul Sharad Dravid, a modern day great is a name that you will most likely never forget whenever there will be a talk of test cricket.
What makes a Wall
Here in an India where Cricket isn’t just a religion but a heart-line of a nation that thrives on entertainment, Rahul Dravid together with icon Sachin Tendulkar, former captain Saurav Ganguly and timeless jewels like Sehwag, Laxman and Yuvraj formed a modern day colossus of Indian Cricket; regarded as a national obsession.
The ever pleasant Banglorean who even captained India in both tests and one days before MS Dhoni took over saved us time and again from many a downfall that was plotted by the enemy camps.
With Dravid around in the middle, no situation ever seemed potent enough to push India easily toward defeat. From the flair of Brett Lee to the enervating fear of Glenn McGrath or the biting accuracy of Shaun Pollock, Dravid was the tough nut to crack. He tackled in a 16 year long international stint the wizardry of Shane Warne, the magic of Murali, the puzzles of Greame Swann and the muscular strength of Jerome Taylor.
Never shy of offering his exemplary services as an able marksman in the test arena, Dravid, who can be regarded as that immovable force standing tall on the cricket pitch amidst a crisis was known for his cool temperament and a technique that tested the patience and grit of the world’s greatest bowlers and competitors.
Some may visualize a clock indicating time having come to a standstill, considering this lesser celebrated genius’s ability to bat for long periods. For others; ones blessed with creative flair, Dravid may represent an equilibrium with one half composing dedication and, the other, patience.
The most dependable Indian test batsman
The man who has just turned 43 on January 11, having left the game in March 2012 was seldom doubted for his abilities with the bat. The Indore born simpleton left the game with a grandiose contribution to Indian Cricket, scoring over 13200 test runs with 36 test centuries at an average of over 52. In the limited overs format, he finished with over 10,800 runs, a stark reminder to his critics who questioned his abilities in the shorter version. But, Dravid’s greatness didn’t rest alone on proving his critics wrong.
The fact that his dismissal brought Tendulkar to the middle a facet that was met with unmatched jubilation by fans who often forgot the valuable contributions of Indian Cricket’s greatest no.3 bat confirms Dravid’s status as a legend who seldom cribbed or made a face for this lack of recognition.
This was a painful truth that Dravid had to contend with throughout his career, a memorable stint where he would often be the rescuer and the fighter when greats like Sachin would depart for the pavilion cheaply.
Dravid the monk
It wouldn’t be incorrect to hail Rahul Dravid as the “Bodhisattva “or a Zen like figure in the game for such dignified has been his conduct all throughout his memorable stay in the game.
This did not only earn him regards from his own team-mates but importantly, adulation from the opposition.
The legendary bat renowned for a water-tight technique and an astonishing reservoir of concentration struck 5 double hundreds in his test career, with a top score of 270, compiled against arch-rivals Pakistan. For someone who grew up admiring Gundappa Vishwanath and Gavaskar to go 2 centuries more than Sir Sunny himself and stalwarts like Brian Lara with 36 test centuries speaks of the man’s incredible dedication.
There was a time when Dravid in the middle spelled silent terror for the mightiest of sides. The Australians often ran into Dravid at the peak of his immovable powers. His famous 233 at Adelaide during our famous victory of 2003-04 tour fetched him worldwide regard. This wasn’t the first time that Rahul gave Australia an indication of his batting strength.
In the 2001 timeless wonder played at the Eden Gardens of Kolkata, where VVS Laxman stroked his way to a career best 281, helping India to bounce back from a painful follow on, it was none other than “the Wall” who teamed with Laxman with a fluent 180, signaling India’s revival.
Adored as “Mr. Dependable”, Dravid often shifted himself from his usual fixed position (no.3) to step in to elevate the dire states of his team when needed the most.
Tour to England 2011
His special ability to play a handy role for India during tough situations continued even as the batsman began to walk into the twilight zone. In the 2011 England Tour, where 38 year old Dravid was once again the lesser fancied star in a line-up that had Gautam Gambhir, Sachin, Laxman and Yuvraj, England had other plans in the four test series.
MS Dhoni’s men who were routed in every test they played marred by shattering batting failures including those of the master blaster’s, the very very special Laxman’s and that of captain cool himself, it was the Wall of Dravid’s solid defense that brought India some salvo.
In the four test series, Dravid compiled 468 runs at an average of over 110 with three glorious centuries, including one at the ‘home of Cricket’; the Lords.
Leaving the cricket field in a fashion with which he played; with a certain calmness, poise and clarity of purpose, Rahul Dravid is fondly remembered as not just a pioneer of classic test batsmanship but as one of the finest ambassadors to have represented the great game of cricket.
An earnest tribute
When hopes died down, and the sun would begin to set,
when pressure climbed up the charts and my fellow countrymen would begin to fret,
when all looked for an answer but were only met with questions,
when a breather of fresh air was reduced to a spate of tension,
when the opposition attacked and reduced my countrymen to state of submission,
I knew what was going to be my mission
Stoking greatness for its feather of delight – in 1996 I took guard to take on the fight,
the motive was simple; soak up the pressure, take blows, and save batting collapses for India is my treasure
Playing ball-by-ball, never with a selfish motive, I wanted to devote
every breath that was in me to paint a picture that has gone on to connote:
The power of Dedication, Determination and Resolve
I think you may agree, that I gave it all in standing tall
Today am not around on the pitch, but I observe the game that has given me its all,
You know me as Rahul Dravid, but some regard me as the Wall