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Two and a half years after hanging up his boots in international cricket, Rahul Dravid, one of the greatest batsmen ever produced by India, looks as trim and fit as he did in his playing days. All that one finds odd while looking at his dapper form is the absence of a bat in his hand. CricketCounrty’s Arunabha Sengupta caught up with the maestro in Nottingham for a brief chat during the on-going Test match.
Two and half years after his graceful farewell from international cricket, Rahul Dravid looks as fit as ever as he walks into the lounge of the Hilton Nottingham Hotel. If anything, he seems leaner than ever before. Merely two hours have passed since the last ball of the day was bowled at the Trent Bridge Test, and he is already in his workout attire. It turns out to be even more amazing when one discovers that he has already had a session in the gym after returning from the cricket.
On the table where we sit, plates of finger food lie scattered, tempting the nibble like the most seasoned master of swing bowling. Dravid does not touch the mouth-watering fried potatoes, looks as closely at the platter as he did at anything bowled to him, and chooses the snack that looks rich in protein and low in calories.
So, carrying on the perfectionism from his playing days, is he overcompensating for his retirement from competitive cricket through excessive work in the gym? Dravid laughs in his characteristic self-effacing manner. “Nothing like that, I just do some workout. Nothing special.”
So, how has it been working with the Indian team as a batting consultant? “I don’t quite know from where this technical term ‘batting consultant’ evolved. It is nothing so formal. The boys hang out with me, talk to me and I share my experiences.”
Is he working on the techniques of the batsmen to adapt to the English conditions? “Not really. As I said, the boys hang out with me and I share what worked for me what I found difficult. We don’t make changes to technique or style.”
‘What I found difficult’ reminds the writer of Bhuvneswar Kumar’s remark that Dravid’s tips were helping the bowlers as much as the batsmen in the team. If Dravid found something difficult in England, there would be few batsmen negotiating it with ease.
Since the topic of technique has popped into the discussion, I ask him something which I have wanted to know for long. Did he enjoy playing in the Indian Premier League? “Did I enjoy playing it? Of course I did enjoy playing IPL. It was a different, a new sort of challenge and I really liked it.”
But given that he had one of the purest techniques in the game, didn’t the format jar with his cricket? “Of course I knew that I was never going to be a Chris Gayle. But, I enjoyed leading the team, working with them, trying to work our ways through the tournament. As I said, it was a different type of challenge and I really enjoyed it.”
One of the senior members of the hotel staff approaches the table, apologising profusely. There is a group of Indian guests from the United States and they have requested her to ask whether it would be possible to get a photograph with the great man. Gracious as ever Dravid says yes. The group is delighted. They had been sitting in the lounge watching a crucial World Cup football game, but Dravid remains a far bigger draw in India. One of the greatest of all time.
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry.He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)
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