Safin’s got one, why shouldn’t Dravid (get one)?

Quoting from an article of Dravid’s teammate:

“What motivated him still, after all these years and so many runs? Dravid said that as a schoolboy, he remembered many kids who had at least as much desire to play professional cricket as he did – they attended every camp and net session, no matter what the cost or the difficulty of getting there. But you could tell – from just one ball bowled or one shot played – that they simply didn’t have the talent to make it. He knew he was different. “I was given a talent to play cricket,” Dravid explained. “I don’t know why I was given it. But I was. I owe it to all those who wish it had been them to give of my best, every day.”

What a brilliant inversion of the usual myth told by professional sportsmen: that they had unexceptional talent and made it to the top only because they worked harder. Dravid spoke the truth. Yes, he worked hard. But the hard work was driven by the desire to give full expression to a God-given talent.”

 Quoting from an article of Dravid’s wife:

“Only once, I remember, he returned from a Test and said, “I got a bit angry today. I lost my temper. Shouldn’t have done that.” He wouldn’t say more. Many months later, Viru [Sehwag] told me that he’d actually thrown a chair after a defeat to England in Mumbai. He’d thrown the chair, Viru said, not because the team had lost but because they had lost very badly.”

Quoting from an Englishman who saw him play at the Oval:

“While Sachin – perhaps distracted by the hoopla over breaking a record that nobody even knew existed until it was created for him, bespoke – floundered on that 2011 tour, Rahul’s reputation grew even greater in this country. It is hard, sacrilegious I dare say, for Indian fans to consider, but I believe that in the UK at least, Rahul’s bravery, modesty, professionalism and courtly determination make him even more loved than Tendulkar.”

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I am not Dravid’s wife. Heck, I am not even a girl to wish I was Dravid’s wife. I didn’t take care of his kids when he went overseas. I didn’t share a dressing room with him. Nor did he share any batting tips with me. He never presented me with a bat, and I never ever shook his hand. I didn’t share a record number of century stands with him, and I wasn’t at the other end when he brought up his 13000th test run. No, I wasn’t at the other end when he got his 10000th ODI run either. Truth be told, I wasn’t even in the stadium on each of those occasions. Was he disappointed by my absence? Absolutely not. I am not his Dad, and I didn’t watch every innings of his.

If I said I would choose him to bat for my life, would anyone even care? It’s not as if I have a 400 to my name. He didn’t discuss his retirement with me, nor will he discuss his future plans with me. 

All I can say about him is therefore from what I have seen of him on the TV, and how bland is that? Why would anyone want to read this? Anyone having a TV at home could have written this. 

Apart from his debut at Lords and his Jammy commercials, the earliest memory I have of him is him fielding at short leg, particularly in test matches against South Africa. Even to this day, I feel a bit disappointed whenever a commentator passes an opportunity to mention his name while recalling some of their favorite short leg fielders. He took quite a few screamers squatting in that position but one catch I am particularly fond of. This one catch was to get rid of Gary Kirsten and what made this catch remarkable and long lasting was that Dravid in his desire to get to the ball which had looped up generously over Kirsten’s head crashed into him in order to complete the catch. Both the batsman and the fielder ended up in a tangle right there on the pitch and the umpire, too engrossed by all this commotion didn’t bother to raise his finger. That is, until Dravid emerged out of the tangle appealing for the catch. As soon as he did that, the umpire’s finger went up. Oh, what a legend. (To be honest, I don’t quite remember if he was given out lbw or whether he was rightly or wrongly given out caught. All I remember is Dravid appealing and the umpire’s finger following suit.)

Another favorite memory of his is that time when he opened with Sachin in an ODI against South Africa. The lights had come on, the target was stiff, Donald was a fearsome proposition, and worst of all, it wasn’t an ICC knockout match. But Dravid did deliver a knockout blow to all his detractors (there were was no dearth of them back in the day) when he hit the mighty Donald for an all-mighty six. You know I kid when I use Dravid and ‘all-mighty six’ in the same sentence. For all I know, he must have just cleared the fence, but that’s not the point. The point is, that shot revolutionized the way his defenders defended him. From then on, “remember the time when he hit Donald for a six” became the rallying point. (It’s not that he was a lesser batsman before that six, that six was needed to get the point across to some ignorant fools who didn’t get the game of cricket, but still had the loudest voices and the harshest things to say.)

After this, there was the 1999 WC where he topped the points system designed to adjudicate the Man of the Tournament, but still lost out to Lance Klusener. He did, however, end up as the tournament’s highest run-getter, inspite of his team getting knocked out in the super-six stage. ICC later tweaked the rules and made the points system the sole basis for deciding the Man of the Tournament in the 2003 WC (won by Sachin Tendulkar.)

Once the new decade started and a couple of years were left outside off stump, Dravid really started coming into his own. His strike rates began to improve and simultaneously, all sorts of weird things began to happen on the cricket field. Douglas Marillier happened, Matthew Hayden started walking ala Ranatunga, but before the bowler had released the ball, Ajit Agarkar was blossoming, with both bat and ball, South Africa went crashing even before a knockout game, Afridi had stopped ageing, the Aussies had stopped losing, Anwar was in mourning, Azhar was in hiding, and all sorts of crazy things kept happening. (Might have got the timelines a bit screwed up there, memories aren’t organised neatly in a stack, as you must be knowing.)  

Anyway, the point is Dravid had matured into such a complete all-round cricketer that the ICC felt obliged to start its yearly awards honors. Dravid picked up the inaugural awards for both ICC Cricketer of the year, and ICC Test Cricketer of the year. After this, Dravid went on playing for a good part of 8 more years and I see no reason to speak about events just passed, especially since even those with weak memories can recall very vividly this time-frame. Adios, and thank you Dravid! 

//The only time I watched him in a stadium, he got a 50 off 22 balls; and the effort at Eden Gardens, you all are familiar of; should have written about that time when Azhar gave him a 10 over spell during that fixed series against South Africa and how he duly delivered with a neat spell of 2 for 40-something, including the wicket of Lance Klusener for a duck//  

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