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In a widely-predicted move, Rahul Dravid announced on Friday he would be retiring from Test cricket in order to come out of T20 International retirement. Arriving at the Vodafone-sponsored press conference on a Gatorade segway and demanding the assembled media now refer to him as ‘The DLF Wall’, the batting legend said he was looking forward to finally gaining some respect as a player, a feat he said could only be achieved by mastering Jade Dernbach’s death bowling variations in the shortest form of the game.
After making a brief statement in which the renowned egotist described his Test career as ‘not so bad, I suppose’, India’s greatest ever No 3 went on to anger journalists by discussing his own playing days instead of answering questions about what colour socks he thought Sachin Tendulkar might wear in the upcoming Asia Cup.
In further heated scenes, two reporters walked out when Dravid selfishly chose to talk about his classic 270 against Pakistanin Rawalpindi instead of commenting on decade-old rumours of team discontent stemming from the time Harbhajan Singh once ate an orange that might possibly have belonged to Sourav Ganguly.
Away from the commotion, a clearly emotional Dravid revealed why he had made the decision to focus solely on ‘his first love’: “Even during some of my more acceptable Test innings – Kolkata 2001, Leeds 2002, for example – I must admit I felt incomplete as a cricketer. I asked myself, where are the fireworks? Where are the dancing girls? Where, oh where, is Shibani Dandekar? Their absence left me feeling a bit empty, to be honest.”
Dravid also added he had ‘unfinished business’ with Ravi Bopara’s dibbly-dobblers – a constant thorn in his side throughout his one-match T20 International career – and that he would be ‘open to offers’ from the inaugural RIPL (Russian Invitational Premier League) if he felt the experience could help raise his T20 International strike-rate from its present unimpressive 147.61.
Reaction to Dravid’s announcement has been mixed, with former, current and future ex-Pakistan talisman Shahid Afridi labeling his comeback plans ‘lame and indecisive’ and claiming that ‘these people should just make their minds up instead of all this faffing about’.
There was support, however, from legendary Indian all-rounder Kapil Dev, who heaped praise on Dravid’s decision to prolong his career: “As I was saying to Richard Hadlee the other day, timing is everything when it comes to retirements. It’s not about individual records, it’s about the team and Rahul is only 1,321 behind Brendon McCullum in the T20 International run-scoring charts. For me, it will be utterly selfish if he doesn’t just play on until he’s No 1.”
It is not yet clear if VVS Laxman, another of India’s elder statesmen under pressure to retire, intends to pursue a similar strategy to extend his international playing career, but the middle order maestro did confirm to an ecstatic Ravi Shastri that he has recently spent many moments furiously practicing his ‘Citibank switch hit of success’ in his back garden.
(James Marsh is a TEFL teacher based in the Czech Republic, although his real occupation is alienating those close to him by wallowing on statsguru. He blogs on cricket at Pavilion Opinions and can be found on Twitter at @PavilionOpinion)
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