Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell: Why Rahul Dravid didn’t get an equally deserving reception

There is very little to choose from between Sachin Tendulkar (left) and Rahul Dravid in terms of numbers when they played together © Getty Images

By Aayush Puthran
The world can be well divided into two — workaholics and work shirkers. Workaholics are like well-oiled mean machines, possessed by anything that keeps them busy, away from the devil’s workshop. But even they enjoy a bit of serenity and respect the beauty of timelessness. They don’t mind stopping to hear the gush of a wave or hold on to give some time to appreciate Van Gogh’s work. They don’t mind sitting cozily on their couch to spend some time with a Beethoven’s symphony or stop the world around them when Sachin Tendulkar is batting in his 90s. There is a reason to take a break from work even for workaholics, to stop and breathe, not simply to contemplate, but also to see the world around them and rejoice in things that bring peace and make them happy.
Peter Roebuck once famously said of Tendulkar, “On a train from Shimla to Delhi, there was a halt in one of the stations. The train stopped by for few minutes as usual. Sachin was nearing century, batting on 98. The passengers, railway officials, everyone on the train waited for Sachin to complete the century. This Genius can stop time in India!!”
For Tendulkar, the clock has stopped many a times in the last 24 years and it was inevitable that it would stop again, on Friday, November 15. However, it would lead to a curious question as to why a Rahul Dravid, standing at the other end of the pitch with the broadcast team, didn’t get the kind of attention that Tendulkar did. Because for most part of the period they played together [in Tests], the former performed equally if not slightly better than the latter. Dravid carried himself with as much dignity and was as respected by the opposition as Tendulkar was.
There has to be a reason for the disparity in their popularity. If a sane mind does not have the answer to it, maybe irrational arguments need to be assessed. It is important to explore the reason for the failure to understand the disparity of what both richly deserved. Even if it means assessing arguments like, “Dravid was a boring cricketer”, so be it. Irrational arguments spiced up with a tinge of logic could give us the answer.
To start with, it is easier to assume legendary status post retirement. Very few do it while they are still playing. Dravid never brought crowds to the stadium, especially like the intensity with which the Little Master did. This is not to demean the efforts of the rock solid guard of the Indian middle-order, but maybe a common Indian didn’t relate to him. In a liberal economy, where the nation looked to go global, Dravid stood as the old guard of honour and respect, and of security. It was Tendulkar who put a step on the accelerator and symbolised an aggressive and progressive India. Dravid was more in the Mahatma Gandhi mould who would in his own calm way pass on the message to the opposition, ‘Burn us if you can, we are not going to let you march forward.’ He played cricket for the cause of the team and maybe in the process, he didn’t exercise the eccentric wishes of the fans. On the other hand, Tendulkar carried the burden of expectations and come this day, he was honourably thanked.
Tendulkar was the man of hope for a helpless India, Dravid was a vital cog of a promising one.
There are innumerable sob stories of precarious talent going wasted because a certain player was born in the wrong era. The fact that Dravid could make a name for himself and become a legendary figure in world cricket while playing in the Tendulkar era, is in itself a mark of his true greatness.
Dravid was exceptionally good, but he couldn’t stop time. He didn’t have hopes burdening his shoulders like Tendulkar did for almost his entire career, hopes of bringing a smile and making every Indian proud. And thus, the gratitude flows for the Master, like it never does for anyone else. The workaholics show it with their time, while work shirkers with their love.
Because love, unlike hate, has no rationale.
(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)