Last of the dying breed - Sachin and Dravid
There seldom comes a time when certain special individuals come and change the culture of a game forever. They do it with hard work,elegance,professionalism and above all,humility. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid are such special individuals. These two legends retired from all formats of cricket leaving behind big shoes to fill and millions of broken hearts.
Sad but true. This is the end of an era of these two legends who are more than athletes to us. They are role models. Their greatness is the benchmark of success. Let's talk a little about them individually.
I don't give a damn about Don Bradman's monstrous 99.94 test average. He never had the burden that Sachin had throughout his career. As a matter of fact, I think no athlete in the world faced so much burden than Sachin did when he entered the field to bat. He had more than 2 billion eyes watching him. There's a reason why a billion people stop what they’re doing for a moment and watch Sachin Tendulkar bat. Sachin is kind of like The Pied Piper of Hamelin (in a good way of course) ,hypnotizing people with his masterful strokes. When he scored a memorable match-saving century against England at age 17, even Geoffrey Boycott realized that this 17 year-old kid is no ordinary 17 year-old. From that point on there was no stopping this guy. Even his father’s sad death didn’t faze him from scoring an amazing 140 against Kenya in the 1999 World Cup. You can’t intimidate this little guy. Brett Lee bowls a full-length in-swinger, Sachin just hits it straight and the ball goes for a beautiful drive down the ground. Shoaib Akhtar with all his might hits the deck hard with a bouncer at 96 MPH and Sachin just cuts it effortlessly above the third man for a six (Yeah that upper cut in the 2003 WC match). That is Sachin Tendulkar’s killer instinct.
Fearless. Ruthless. Merciless.
He deserves to be the first batsman to eclipse the 200-run mark in ODIs (And he did). He is a stat monster – Most runs scored in an ODI career.Most runs scored in a Test career.Most centuries scored in an ODI career.Most Test matches played etc....You name it,he holds it.And it's great that he got that world cup that he desperately deserves to win in 2011.
If you want to learn how to bat and plan a test innings, watch Rahul Dravid bat. His batting is as professional and calm as the man himself. He built his every innings ball by ball, brick by brick forming an impenetrable wall. He was a selfless team player. He only cared for the success of the team around him. I think that's why his performances are sometimes overlooked by many. When V.V.S. Laxman scored that sensational 281 against Australia in that epic 2001 Kolkata test, Dravid was right there supporting him, scoring a phenomenal 180. Similarly when Sourav Ganguly demolished the Sri Lankan bowling line-up on his way to scoring 183 in the 1999 World Cup, it was Dravid again who stayed with him at the other side of the crease with his own 145. There were so many moments like these. The thing is, Rahul Dravid does not care about the spotlight. He does not care about being the center of attention. I’m not saying that other Indian batsmen played for the spotlight. The spotlight followed them automatically. Early in his career, Dravid was heavily criticized for being an unreliable and a slow ODI batsman. So he worked on his game and became more attacking. He wasn't a great wicket-keeper. But he took the job of keeping the wickets for the team because there was no one else who could at that time. He didn’t mind looking bad for the good of his team. But it’s really sad that he wasn’t a part of any world cup-winning team.
They are amazing players who made batting look so easy. But let’s understand how hard they must have worked to make it look so easy. They didn’t allow their phenomenal success get to their heads. They were self-disciplined, methodical and most importantly humble. It’s one thing to be a great cricketer. But to be a great human being over that is the icing on the cake. They had doubters. They had haters. But these two great men have shut them up and answered them with their bats. They were two of a kind. The last of a dying breed. Cricket will never be the same without them.