Let us look at some important cricketing statistics for Rahul Dravid first:
- Test match batting average: 53.19; ODI batting average: 39.49
- Batsman + Wicket-Keeper (part-time)
- Former Captain of Indian Cricket Team in both ODI and Test matches
- Second highest run getter in test matches (13,000+ runs); More than 10,000 runs in One Day Internationals
- Only batsman to score a century in all test playing nations
- ICC player of the year and Test player of the year (2004)
- Top scorer in the 1999 World Cup held in England
- Holds the record for the highest number of catches in test cricket
- Averages 5 runs more in away-pitches when compared to home-pitches (a rare feat for an Indian batsman)
- Involved in the highest partnership in ODI’s (331 runs, with Sachin Tendulkar)
- Holds the record for the second fastest fifty in ODI’s (for India)
- Holds the record for the longest innings played by an Indian batsman in a Test match
How’s that for a (partial) professional career record?
I happened to watch one match during the recently concluded IPL (the finals between CSK and KKR) and guess who got the maximum applause on that day? Gautam Gambhir? MS Dhoni? No. It was Rahul Dravid! He won some fair-play award and when he came to receive it, Harsha Bhogle rightly noticed that, ‘Only rock stars get this kind of applause!’
Cricket is the first love of many guys born in India. Though I have broken up with my first love long ago (the match fixing incidents helped a lot), when I saw the above mentioned incident I thought that I should write something about the player I admired the most in the Indian cricket team.
Here it is.
All of us came to know that two future stars were in the making, when Dravid was involved in a successful partnership with Ganguly during their debut match in a test series in England. Dravid, Tendulkar and Ganguly became the threesome who would thereon steer India to great heights in all forms of cricket.
If anyone had the best technique and could stroke the ball all over the ground with ease and confidence, it was Dravid. When Dravid comes to bat, the whole nation heaves a sigh of relief because we know that he’s going to stay. And stay, he did. Always. Even though he was not among the biggest run scorers every time, he ensured that his contribution to the team was consistently significant. He was one of the few players who was as competent on the off-side, as he was on the on-side. Bowlers were fed-up searching for weaknesses to penetrate the wall!
How many people play for the team, disregarding their personal statistics? Dravid always did that. He could not only take the charge during critical moments, but he was happy to leave the charge to Sachin or Ganguly when the situation so demanded. Whether he played the second-fiddle or the first-fiddle, he would always put the team interests before his own and played to his best potential, every match. I don’t think anyone doubts this.
At a point of time, he was considered to be fit only for playing test matches and was criticized for ‘slow batting’ in ODI’s (Not sure what all these people were doing when Ravi Shastri was playing ODI’s!). But Rahul Dravid adapted his match style rather quickly and became the mainstay in the limited overs version of the game as well. He was consistently sent to play in the one-down and two-down positions, which were very critical for the team.
Even though I don’t want to get into individual match statistics, who could forget his mammoth partnership with VVS Laxman during the 2001 test series against Australia? That changed the course of the series (which India was sure to lose) and India actually won it! After some time, the duo struck again in Adelaide to help India gain another test comeback victory. Even as late as 2011, he scored three centuries against England (in England) in a test series that was otherwise a washout for India.
No. If I start with the specifics, this article will never end!
One of the things that I admire about Dravid is the grace and poise with which he ended his cricketing career. It was the same grace and poise that started it all. It was the same grace and poise that carried him through. Very few people are that dignified!
He was the real Gentleman of the Gentleman’s game.
Reference: Wikipedia article on Rahul Dravid.