The greatness of Rahul Dravid

Rahul Dravid Rahul Dravid was nicknamed The Wall

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The late Peter Roebuck, one of the world's greatest cricket writers, once exclaimed that removing Rahul Dravid from the crease would possibly need gelignite, an explosive material invented by Alfred Nobel.

Roebuck was observing Dravid withstand a fearsome Australian pace attack with his trademark fortitude, attrition and immense powers of concentration.

He wrote: "Only the most resourceful players can withstand such an intense Australian attack for a long period of time. Dravid is such a man. Something more than attrition is is needed to remove him. Gelignite is the most obvious alternative but the match referee might baulk at that. Australia searched for a weakness as a dentist does for holes and could find none. Thereafter, it was a matter of waiting for a mistake. It was a long time coming."

The decision to retire from international cricket didn't require that long. Dravid said on Thursday that he had been mulling over it for a while, and thought this was the right time to depart and make way for a new generation of Indian batsmen.

It will be difficult to replace the legendary batsman, for whom, in the words of my friend and cricket writer, Rohit Brijnath, "decency and determination were not conflicting virtues". Something which many of the talented and brash young cricketers would do well to remember.

On Friday, Dravid said he never took the media's nickname for the patient batsman, 'The Wall', seriously. The Wall conjures up images of a frustratingly impenetrable obstacle, but Dravid was much more than that.

Nobody describes it better than Roebuck again, writing on a carefully crafted 332-minute-long Dravid innings.

"Somewhat to his chagrin, Dravid has been described as the "wall' of Indian batting, a tribute to the sense of permanence to be found in his batting. Certainly, there is something eternal about his work in the middle. Moreover, his innings are constructed brick by brick," he wrote.

"But to regard India's first drop merely as an obstacle is to underestimate his abilities. Dravid is a batsman of the highest class whose form in recent years indicates that he deserves to be included in the ranks of the major batsmen of the period. He has scored runs against all sorts of bowling on all kinds of pitches."

As the innings continued, Roebuck summed up David's qualities as a true Test virtuoso.

"Dravid has a simple game founded upon straight lines. Reasoning that runs cannot be scored in the pavilion, he sets out to protect his wicket. Curiously, this thought does not seem to occur to many batsmen, a point many a long-suffering coach could confirm," he wrote.

"He defends his stumps with skill and strength of mind. Australia's fast bowlers tried to upset him and might as well have been attacking a tank with a slingshot. Attempts to test his patience were no more effective. Dravid reads long books and does not expect a man to be shot upon every page."

Another time, another place, another cricket writer of repute and Dravid's skills are again put into perspective.

It's the epochal 2004 India tour of Pakistan, Dravid is walking to the crease in Karachi, and writer Rahul Bhattacharya is in the press box.

"The innings was entrusted now to Dravid, who had emerged as the one man in the world who could be trusted with any situation," wrote Bhattacharya. "He accepted with customary poise; urgent, but still mindful of the fate befalling Tolstoy's peasant, who ran all day for land but died at sundown."

Dravid departed one short of a hundred in the 48th over. He had scored 99 of India's 349 runs. India won the match by five runs.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    An era in Indian cricket is coming to an end with the retirement of Rahul Dravid. Karnataka now will have no representation in the Indian cricket test team and the ODIs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Brilliant one can say a single bad word about him...

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I am not a huge *fan* of the game but i do have a lot of respect of Dravid. I enjoyed watching proper cricket fans get frustrated when he coolly defends against a delivery when everyone expects(probably because they deem it necessary at that particular time) a big hit. He deserves all the adjectives thrown at him here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    A gentleman,Good sportsman,liked by everyone,technically a sound batsman and a very good fieldsman especially at slips.Played for the team and the country and not for any records.A wise & correct decision allowing youngsters a place in the team. Thank you David ! Hope concerned authorities will take a note of this and build a young India cricket team. Wish him and his family a very best in life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    A true gentleman of cricket and the best I have seen.I grew up in India watching Dravid,Tendulkar,Laxman,Ganguly and Kumble play some fantastic cricket for India.End of an era and I will truly miss them all.Its rare to see a humble genius in sports and we have had a whole lot of them in these cricketers.Hopefully we will see Dravid at KSCA, post retirement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    It is hard to praise his career and character sufficiently. On field he had it all, shot variety, ability to adapt to conditions, comfortable with pace, spin and swing. He could score quickly but equally could build an impenetrable wall in front of the wickets when time was as much of an issue as the bowling attack.

    Off the pitch, a gentleman. A true inspiration to players and fans alike.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    There can only be one Dravid and it’s not going to be easy for the Indian team to play test matches without him. He was indeed a solid wall and will be missed by cricket fans all around the world.


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