5 instances showing Rahul Dravid is the ultimate team player
Rahul Dravid exemplified the qualities of a perfect teammate and a gentleman. He is one of the few cricketers who is beloved by teammates and opponents alike. While remaining comfortable in his role as an oft unsung hero, Dravid consistently showed that he is more than deserving of the accolades showered upon him while refusing to bask in the adulation. His dedication towards his team is an example to one and all. Here are 5 instances which show that Rahul Dravid was and remains to be an ultimate team player.
#1 Saving his hometown team
In front of just 15-20 spectators, Rahul Dravid took to the field to help his childhood club BUCC and Friends Union Cricket Club (FUCC) in the Karnataka State Cricket Association’s (KSCA) Group I Division II avoid relegation. Without any fanfare Dravid entered a game in a league which most top level cricketers wouldn't be caught dead in without a heavy purse in return. For loyalty's sake Dravid batted for his team and helped them to live another day.
Dravid played for the two days of the match, and even fielded for his team. He scored 113 runs to help his team avoid relegation.
#2 Test Cricket Maestro
Let the numbers put this into perspective. Rahul Dravid has faced 31,258 deliveries. That's more balls in Test cricket than any other player. Dravid is the only player to have faced more than 30,000 deliveries. Dravid played 164 Tests for India and made 13,288 runs at an average of 52.31 over 16 years. It is a testament to Dravid's consistency and poise that he maintained his strike on the crease with such productivity. This allowed the more risky shot takers to bat freely, safe in the knowledge that they have a solid presence alongside them.
#3 Opening for India
Rahul Dravid made his mark as the Wall which stayed put when all else failed. He created his niche and cherished his role. But there were times when the team required Dravid to open for India. He didn’t bat a lash while agreeing to do what is best for the team, even though it was not something he was comfortable with.
Harsha Bhogle has said of Dravid’s opening: “There were two things Dravid didn't really love in cricket: opening the batting and keeping wicket. He was asked to do both at various times, and I asked him if he ever contemplated saying no. He didn't enjoy it, he said, but took it as a challenge, to see how good he could be. This acceptance of challenges is what has defined his cricket and made him one of the finest team players there has been. A challenge, he said, allowed him to understand himself better, it gave him a reason to play sport.”
#4 Keeping wicket for India
Rahul Dravid was never a fan of opening. He has said "As a middle order batsman, all my routines have been set. The 10-minute changeover period when I have to change and comeback, I find myself rushed. I remember at Lord's, I had to keep wickets, run up and down and felt really rushed,"
"I was determined to ensure I did not get that feeling. I went in bit taking more time. At number three, there is some breathing space even if it is a little bit,” Regardless of how he felt, Dravid did what was asked of him cheerily.
Harsha Bhogle has said of Dravid opening “He kept wickets in about 70 One Day Internationals, never most convincingly, but he allowed himself to look bad for the team to look good. It was always the team for him and in the little piece he wrote for the book that my wife Anita and I did, he quoted Kipling: for the strength of the wolf is the pack and the strength of the pack is the wolf.”
#5 Still helping team India
After slogging for years to make a name through the bat, many cricketers choose less taxing post playing careers. For Rahul Dravid though, the choice was simple. Even though he can’t play for India any longer, he will continue to have have his impact on India’s future in cricket by coaching the U-19 Indian cricket team.
This is poetic justice for the end of Dravid’s playing career. The man who continued to be the reliable, dependeble force which India needed is now continuing to produce the next generation of players for the country. If a sliver of his humility rubs off on the next generation, we can be assured of steady progress from them as well.
Dravid has said “I'm still learning about coaching and dealing with players - what kind of messages to give through, when is the time to intervene, what is a good way to intervene, should you intervene now or not, what is best for a player in the given situation.” That shows the level of self awareness and empathy he possess, qualities essential for a coach who is working with the youth.