By Megha Sinha:
He made a pact with himself not to cry, but his eyes defied his resolution, they were moist, the demeanour though, was calm as usual, as he announced his decision to hang his boots. For a lesser mortal who grew up idolizing him, the floor seemed to drop away from feet. No consolation was offered as India’s crisis man infatuated with the satisfaction of winning matches for the country turned down the request of playing one last farewell match. The highest run getter in Tests the previous year didn’t want to drag it on further, even for one match, at the cost of a youngster.
Unlike some of his contemporaries, ‘The Great Wall of India’ wasn’t born great; it was built over the years by the way of sheer hard work and determination. The tree of patience, his talent branched with every innings, inspiring the mortals to work hard and achieve greatness. His passage to greatness has been tough and long, but once achieved, has become prime example of the benefits of hard work, commitment and perseverance. It is the sweat gone into perfecting the grammar of the game that has fetched him 24,208 runs in international Cricket. While the 30,000 plus balls faced in Tests alone are testimony of the contribution to the team’s cause by wearing down the bowling attack and making batting easier for his team mates at the other end. From the seaming English surface, bouncy tracks of Australia, deadly West Indian turf to turning sub-continent tracks, he has set his fort everywhere.
Perfect ambassador of the gentleman’s game as a captain he thanks every touring team for being brilliant representatives of their country and never misses any chance to appreciate the spectators for their support even when they boo him for not playing their out of form local favourite. His speech at his felicitation ceremony acknowledges the contribution of grounds men and the scorers. First and only Cricketer to have a scored a century in and against every test playing nations, he attributes this accomplishment to the changed international cricket scenario, where teams are sent for tours to unexplored Cricketing destinations. On breaking the record of playing highest number of tests without any gap, he shrugs off any credit but doesn’t forget to thank the physiotherapist and the support staff.
A team man to the core he has consented to open for the team when ‘greater’ players opted the convenience of not swaying their batting position. Not a regular keeper himself assented to keep the wickets to accommodate an extra batsman in the team; relishing every gauntlet thrown at him. 48 players might have carries their bat in test history, but it required one and only one Rahul Dravid to come back and open in the second innings with the follow on being enforced and all that without any fuss. The milestone of 210 is special for him because it reminds him of his contribution to the bowler’s and team’s success.
He possesses a rare combination of love, respect, knowledge and vision for the game. Not just his countrymen but also the game itself took pride when its most sincere student enthralled the audience with his meticulous, wide ranging and fascinating speech at the Bradman Oration. A gentleman right to the boot, across the globe, he has won not just matches but also hearts, saved not only games for his country but also the game itself in the face of the looming danger of it being stripped of its gentleman epithet. His name deserves to be taken in same breath as Bradman. Cricket encompasses honour, fair play, devotion to the team’s cause ahead of one’s own, gentlemanliness and he embodies them all, qualifying this second highest run getter in tests to be called the greatest Cricketer of the modern times. The After-Dravid (AD) generation will find it hard to believe that such a noble form cloaked in serene white walked in flesh and blood on the Cricket field. Cricket has lost its gem. RESPECT!
Image courtesy: http://jawknockraazaa.blogspot.in/2012/03/rahul-dravid-great-representative-of.html