Writing on The Wall

Rahul Dravid

On Friday, March 9th 2012, Rahul Dravid announced his retirement from Test cricket. I wouldn’t say, the announcement hit me like a bolt from the blue! I knew it would happen and I also knew it would happen before the end of this year. However, I was surprised by the suddenness of the decision. Why now? I asked myself. And then, it dawned upon me. The best players go when the world is asking ‘why now?’ and not ‘when?’.

But then, I thought, shouldn’t he have got a swan song series, a chance to say good-bye to his fans? He deserved it; moreover we fans deserved it. We could cheer for him in the stadium, chant his name, and shed tears as he raised his bat to us fans in the galleries for one last time, before walking into the sunset. While I was thinking about all this, I read his statement which said while he respects the fans’ desire to watch him play one last time, the fans should also respect his decision that this is how he wanted to go. No hullabaloo, no hype, no build up, only the poignancy of leaving and the pride of having served the game for so long! Typical of the man! No distractions, just getting on with his game.

For cricket lovers of our generation the following players will always be special – Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, and Rahul Dravid. We grew up watching these heroes, we grew up watching them fight hard and win matches for India, watching them take Indian cricket to great heights. Especially after the dark clouds of match fixing had threatened the very survival of the game in this country. Kumble and Ganguly have already moved on and now it is Rahul Dravid. I still remember his debut Test at Lord’s in the year 1996. While Sourav Ganguly got all the attention for his well compiled century, for me it was Dravid’s 95 that stood out for its technical brilliance. Lovely strokemaking, so pleasing to the eye. The cover drives, the flicks through mid-wicket, the straight drives, the leg glance, and the ferocious pulls, all grace and elegance. Continue reading

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The Gentleman and the Brute

IPL fever has gripped the nation again and I’m enjoying every second of the action that is unfolding in the 2nd edition. Yes, the move from India to SA was unfortunate (I was planning to go to a couple of matches here in Bangalore), however, the even contest between bat and ball that we are witnessing in SA has more than made up for the disappointment of not getting to watch the action from the stands.

Cricket, they say, is a gentleman’s game. Hard to believe when you see brats such as Harbhajan Singh, Andrew Symonds, Ricky Ponting, and Shahid Afridi playing the game at the highest level. Mercifully, we also have some international players who are on the other side of the spectrum. Sachin Tendulkar, Michael Hussey, VVS Laxman, and Daniel Vettori. Players who know how to compete and play hard without being overbearing, in-your-face and boorish. Players who know how to handle the fame and adulation, players who conduct themselves with dignity, both on and off the field. And the player who sits at the top of this pile is Rahul Dravid. If I were to edit the Oxford Dictionary, I would write Rahul Dravid against the word Gentleman. His demeanour, body language, choice of words, even the shots he plays exude class and sophistication. The silken drives through cover, the delicate glides through third man, the wristy flicks through midwicket are a treat to the eyes. It seems as though the ball is being persuaded to go to the boundary rather than being smashed; as though the ball decides to go on its own accord, paying respect to the quality of the strokes being played.  Continue reading