Batting at No.3 in a line-up is one of the toughest jobs in cricket. It calls for extreme precision and focus of the highest order for a prolonged period of time. In a cricket mad country which has produced several gems in the sport, one rare gem bats at No. 3, ever ready to shoulder the burden of the team, seldom disappointing fans. He is Rahul Dravid, ‘The Wall’ of India.
On the field or off it, Dravid has proved to be a true gentleman who never loses his temper, displays complete determination and dedication to his craft. In a career full of ups and downs, he has achieved a lot through his extreme hard work, unlike several greats like Sachin Tendulkar who are simply more gifted with extraordinary skills. Since his test debut in 1996, Dravid held the record of never being dropped from the side until a major injury brought a halt to his long run of 94 straight test matches. In 1996 on his debut at Lord’s, he missed his century by a whisker. But on that fateful day he emerged as one of India’s brightest prospects. 15 years later, ‘The Wall’ still stands strong, weathering every storm that comes his way.
Rahul Dravid is so technically adept and extremely patient that he can make the best bowlers in the business wilt under frustration. Famous incidents such as Shoaik Akhtar, known as the “Rawalpindi Express” charging at full pace on his home ground and bowling to Dravid at a pace of 156 kmph only see the ball stop right in front of the bat through Dravid’s solid defending, seeing his efforts shatter into pieces, are ones we have come to associate so often with ‘The Wall’.
Sourav Ganguly was one of India’s most successful captains, the man who arguably changed the face of Indian cricket. It is noteworthy that Dravid played a vital role in Ganguly’s victories as a captain. An average of above 100 in all matches won under Ganguly with 23 percent of total runs in those victories being his contribution speaks volumes about the man’s great contribution to an era which arguably shaped Indian cricket’s future.
Apart from his solid batting, Dravid is easily one of the most versatile and selfless cricketers around, having displayed his devotion to the team cause time and again during his illustrious career. The most notable moment was when he chose to keep wickets during the 2003 World Cup in order to let the team play an extra batsman. Sacrifice or compromise, Dravid’s willingness to adapt paid great dividends as India reached the final in a historic campaign.
A holder of innumerous records, sheer brilliance and technique make Dravid incomparable with any cricketer. A living embodiment of patience, he is one amongst the rare breed of batsmen ‘made’ for test cricket, capable of digging in for 3 days in a test match without losing his wicket. He may not possess an extraordinary strike rate to enthrall audiences like Sehwag or Afridi, but his text book strokes are a supreme joy to watch.
His fans are of the opinion that he is unlucky to have been born in the same era as that of Sachin Tendulkar, who is addressed as the God of Cricket. Dravid, though not the Superman that Sachin is, always contributes to the team cause, delivers when the situation demands and is thus a player who the team can rely upon. There is no one who can handle pressure better than Dravid, thus giving him the tag of ‘Mr. Dependable’.
A man who has been India’s most consistent player for over 15 years boasting a superb average of 53, the most successful fielder in the world, the second highest run scorer in the history of test cricket, holding the record of having scored a century in all test playing nations (not even Sachin, Lara and Ponting could do that), Dravid was cruelly left out of the ICC Greatest Test Team of All Time, despite being a model test cricketer. Ever the unsung hero of Indian Cricket, Dravid deserves more recognition and respect. In the recently concluded test match between India and England which saw nothing but Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th ton being talked about in the build-up, it was Rahul Dravid who stole the headlines in the end, working calmly from the background, getting his name into the history books which was seemingly reserved for Sachin Tendulkar, as he calmly went about his job of rescuing Team India and getting to the century, making amends for the mistakes on his debut at the very same ground 15 years ago.
People still love to mock him despite all his services to the game. I wonder why he doesn’t deserve to be in the ODI team! Why wasn’t he deserving enough to lift the World Cup? Why don’t experts and the media talk more about him? Only because Dravid is not entertaining. A model sportsperson, Dravid is a no-nonsense cricketer who doesn’t throw tantrums or pulls off his shirt to celebrate wildly. He chooses the non striker’s end, makes his partners comfortable and lets them hog the limelight. Fifteen years of unflinching service and he still hasn’t got the recognition that he deserves. That is Rahul Dravid for you, the man who will walk on broken glass, run through fire if his team asks him to, without complaining.
Edited by ZicoPublished 26 Jul 2011, 17:49 IST