By Baiju Joseph
Rahul Dravid has largely been in the shadow of Sachin Tendulkar, despite his humungous achievements right throughout his career. And that is how it was till the very end. When the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) 2013 final ended the other day, Tendulkar got a hero’s farewell, while Dravid — bidding a final adieu to the game — made a quiet and unceremonious exit. Dravid would have taken it in his stride, like he has all along in his career.
Dravid does not have the magnetism of Tendulkar, the cockiness of Virender Sehwag, the aesthetics of VVS Laxman, the swagger of Sourav Ganguly or the bludgeoning power of MS Dhoni. What he has is quiet confidence — in large measures — which helps him get the job done.
Whatever the situation, Dravid would always be the first one to put his hand up. There cannot be a better example of a team man who has taken up multiple responsibilities with such selflessness and effectiveness. He has done virtually everything a person can possibly do on a cricket field. He has bowled, kept wickets, opened the innings, functioned as finisher, has been a phenomenal slip catcher. You name it, he has done it, and what’s more. If it’s done by Dravid, it would be perfect. Take any great match from the last decade that India won: Hyderabad and Taunton 1999, Kolkata 2001, Adelaide 2003, Rawalpindi 2004, Dravid always had a hand in while others walked away with the glory.
Unlike other seniors in the team, Dravid readily agreed to bat at any position, be it Tests or One-Day Internationals (ODIs). It speaks volumes about his versatility and the ability to put the team interests before self. He was the go-to man in every sense of the word. Captains knew that if no one else was willing to take up a challenge, there was always Dravid to turn to.
Here is a man who has been the epitome of sustained excellence in an international career spanning 16 spectacular years, over 500 matches for the country and scoring 24,000 runs and 48 hundreds. He has also been exemplary in his conduct on and off the field — arguably India’s greatest-ever cricketing ambassador. The gems that he mouths are sheer delight to the ears: be it the Bradman Oration or insightful interviews in the media. It’s a pity while one great cricketing son is heaped in hosannas, another cricketing son — not far behind in terms of cricketing excellence and achievement — is largely ignored as both say sayonara to the game.
(Baiju Joseph is a Bangalore-based Junior Scientist at a Bio-Informatics firm who is deeply passionate about cricket and likes to bowl fast whenever he gets an opportunity to ply his cricketing skills)