“Commitment, Consistency, Class”. These are not merely words, but a reflection of the persona of Rahul Dravid. Inscribed on the wall at the entrance of the home ground of Rahul Sharad Dravid, M. Chinnaswamy stadium, Bangalore, the phrase amiably justifies Rahul Dravid’s class. It is indeed an undeniable fact that Sachin Tendulkar is one of the greatest cricketers when it comes to the Indian cricketing fraternity, but it also goes without saying that Rahul Dravid, is one of the unsung heroes of the game.
Discipline, Obedience and perseverance are what flowed in his blood. He is a perfect example of the fact that cricket is about sheer dedication, gentility and hard work. English batsman Kevin Pietersen once said,” I’ve seen how Rahul goes about his innings and that is something I want myself to get involved with”. This clearly shows the dedication level of this player. Starting his career at the Mecca of cricket, Lords, Rahul Dravid scored 90 odd runs at the debut and rest is history as they say. His entire career is studded with beautiful innings. 180 versus Australia in Kolkata which was instrumental in India’s greatest test win, 144 versus West Indies in 2002, etc. His loss saving innings at Oval in 2007 against England, which is one of the cricket’s slowest innings, showed that this player had something which kept him ahead of the pack. Navjot Singh Sidhu once said, marking his one such fine innings, “Some players are successful because they are destined to. He is successful because he is determined to”.
For the larger part of his cricketing career, Rahul Dravid was regarded as a “Test Batsman”. But 10000+ ODI runs, at an average touching almost 40 is not just a fluke. Leading his IPL side, Rajasthan Royals to Clt20 finals and IPL playoffs proves his mettle in limited over Cricket. His 22 ball 50 was the fastest half century by an Indian (then). Thus, the numbers are in itself proof of the fact that Rahul Dravid was not only a Test or slow format cricketer. In-fact he has a better T20 record than most of his contemporaries.
Often it is said that with age and time, even the best wears off. But it seemed an exact opposite for Rahul Dravid. I can clearly remember the disastrous Indian tour of England in 2011. India was 0-3 down in the series. It was last test match at Oval. India was trailing a mammoth score of 591. Absence of any strong opening partner made that man took it upon himself to restore dignity and immersed himself in a day long vigil. Wickets tottered around him but he was fully dediacted and yet again he proved why he is labeled ‘The Wall’. He carried his bat with an unbeaten 146. Any other Indian batsman failed to register even a 25. The entire English crowd gave a standing ovation, like they had given the entire series as Rahul Dravid registered a series average of 77 and top test Batsman ranking at the age of 38.
This article will be incomplete without the description of his ‘Team First Ideology’. Rahul Dravid was a complete team man. Going beyond his comfort zone just to help team is what he was known for. Ian chapel once said, “Team in trouble, whom to see: Rahul Dravid”. Whether be it keeping behind the stumps when team wanted to include an extra batsman, or bowling to aid the frontline bowlers, Rahul dravid has always kept team above all. A commentator once quoted,” Rahul Dravid is a player who would walk on broken glass if his team asked him to”. His devotion towards the game and above all team is what makes him great. His career is filled with innings where precedence to match situation is given rather than individual feat.
Generally with retirement, athletes prefer to spend time at home with family relaxing. But when BCCI bestowed an added responsibility in the hands of Rahul Dravid to coach India U19 team and be a part of advisory committee, he whole-heartedly accepted the responsibility. Exceptional performance of the U19 team down under proves his dedication for the game even after retirement. He is indeed a true devotee of Indian Cricket.
Rahul Dravid has been a strong pillar in the rise of the Indian team especially abroad. It was under his captaincy that India won series over-seas. As a Batsman, bowler, Captain and above all a team person, Dravid has been a perfect example of a complete player in all sense. Muttiah Mulidharan once said, “Rahul has always been in the shadow of Sachin. If you take his record, it is as good as Sachin’s, but you can’t compare both. Rahul is a complete player”. During one of his innings, a placard near the pavilion read, “Only if you were born in any other nation than India, you would have been a greater cricketer than Sachin”. Indeed! he has been a real unsung hero of Great Tendulkar era.