Beauty and THE WALL: A look at the final year
The left foot moves to the line of the leg stump, the bat is tapped to the ground gently, sweat drips from the helmet, the right leg moves to the line of the leg stump as well, HE adjusts his stance, looks up, head still, eyes filled with determination as they watch the ball closely, the right leg moves back, left leg towards the pitch of the ball, weight of the body is shifted forward as the bat comes down straight and makes contact with the ball. Pause.
What happens next does not matter. The sheer beauty of this frame is enough to keep one’s eyes glued to the screen for 5 days. The artist at work is Rahul Dravid.
Yes, he has retired, but he will forever remain as one of the greatest the game has ever seen and will ever see. Sadly, he is getting all this attention after his retirement. But however he deserves every bit of it. Let’s take a look at what were the final steps in the magnificent career of ‘THE WALL’.
The year 2011 had a lot in store for cricketing fans. With the World Cup being the main event, it was one-day action that was the point of focus. After a not so good South African tour and Test matches scheduled for the later half of the year, Rahul Dravid was back to the drawing board trying to improve his game as what was lined up were the three important away tours of West Indies, England and Australia each posing a completely different challenge than the rest.
India in the West Indies
Fresh from the World Cup victory, the Indians flew to the Caribbean high on confidence. They managed to win the 3-match test series 1-0 with the lone victory coming at Kingston. It was Rahul Dravid who provided the match winning knock as he slowly began to find his form. He ended the series as the highest run-getter amassing 251 runs in 3 matches at a healthy average of just above 50.
India in England
Then came the all important tour of England. With the no.1 spot in Test rankings at stake, a lot of hype was given to this series. It was the famous Indian batting line-up against the England pace attack. But the series ended in a whitewash, India ending up on the losing side. If there was one man who tried to salvage some pride, it was Rahul Dravid. He anchored the Indian innings every single time as wickets kept tumbling at the other end. He even opened the innings in the absence of Sehwag and Gambhir. He managed to score 3 centuries in tough, swinging conditions. He was in the form of his life as he fought like a warrior, trying to pull India out from the dumps, but sadly in vain. He however was the highest run-getter for India scoring 461 runs at a terrific average of 77. Due to his terrific performance in the Tests, Dravid was picked for the T-20 and ODI series as well. His performance was decent in both the formats and showed he is capable of scoring quickly by slog-sweeping the world’s best spinner for 3 sixes in an over.
West Indies in India
Then came the only home series of the year, the West Indies’ tour of India. Dravid yet again was consistent with the bat scoring 319 runs in 3 matches at an average of 63. Once again he was the highest run-getter for India in the series scoring a century and 2 fifties.
India in Australia
Just when everyone thought Dravid was having the perfect year, he provided the icing on the cake at the Bradman oration. The entire world watched in awe as he in his true, impeccable style delivered the speech. It was clear, simple and straight from the heart. It provided the perfect beginning for the tour of Australia. On the cricketing front however, India faced another whitewash and Dravid had probably one of his worst tours. Though he began well in the Boxing Day test, it all fell apart as the series unfolded. The famous Dravid defence proved to be imperfect as he was bowled 6 times. That surely was a mighty blow to THE WALL. He managed just 194 runs at an average of 24. Maybe that’s what prompted him to retire.
All in all 2011 was one of Dravid’s best years. He ended up as the highest run-getter in tests amassing 1145 runs at an average of 57. By no means you can consider it a bad year for him. However, many might feel he should have retired after the England tour, but he wanted to challenge himself by playing in Australia. As Dravid himself said- he might have failed, but he never failed to try. He has always been the under-rated, the man in the background. He always prefers to stay away from the limelight and is more than happy to let others take the glory. However, he is a true legend, a gentleman, the greatest ambassador of test cricket. People say- Lord wanted to play cricket, hence he created Sachin Tendulkar. I feel- Lord wanted to watch cricket, hence he created Rahul Dravid. A salute to the great legend, true sportsman and team-player.
Mr.Rahul Dravid. Respect!!!