With the ‘Gentleman Warrior’ Rahul Dravid calling it a day, the Indian Cricket has lost its very WALL. The relatively young Dravid (39 years) who retired from international cricket recently was not just a good and reliable cricketer, who bailed out Team India from many tricky and hopeless situations -- that too on hostile wickets, and against quality oppositions -- was also someone around whom the very fortunes of the Indian cricket revolved for long.
Perhaps, the best thing about this wonderful player from Karnataka was that despite the presence of the likes of Sachin, Laxman, Sehwag and Ganguly in the team with whom he shared several memorable partnerships, Dravid continued to be India’s biggest hope and the ONLY gladiator for long. Whenever these top guns let us down, and which happened too often, Dravid – the second highest run-getter in Test history -- raised the bar and almost single-handedly took the fight to the various opposition camps.
Who can forget his fighting knocks against the English Team recently in England. He was the ONLY batsman from the Indian side, who literally toyed with the English attack when our star players had failed to even last a few overs, let alone make handsome contributions.
Lovingly called ‘Jammy’, Dravid appeared on the cricketing horizon somewhere at the same time when Ganguly made his appearance. Though the latter eventually became the Indian captain and led India to many memorable victories, it was actually Dravid who made it happen. Had he not performed exceedingly well under the former’s captaincy and come up with wonderful knocks even overseas, Ganguly would perhaps not have managed to become what he became eventually.
Besides, for also much of the India’s resurgence -- post match-fixing scandals that almost threatened the Indian cricket of extinction -- much credit should go to Dravid, who at such difficult and taxing times, gave his very soul to the Indian cricket and shone on the cricketing map of the world as only he could have done.
Who can forget his amazing partnership with Laxman at the Eden Gardens at Kolkata against the Aussies in 2001? Had Dravid not given yet another display of high class performance during that match (he made 180 runs in the second innings of that memorable test) India would have badly lost the plot, and the match.
But then this is just one instance of this great player’s commitment to the cause of the Indian team, and much importantly, the game of cricket. That he loved the game much more than anyone else is no secret. He did not play for money, it was secondary for him. He played for the sheer pleasure and honor of representing the country and enjoying the game which he loved more than anything else in the world.
Though he is more known for his wonderful nocks in the Tests -- and is more famous as a classical Test match batsman -- his contributions in the shorter version of the game is equally amazing. At a time when his so-called younger contemporaries were finding it tough to survive, Dravid not only continued to be a part of the teams at the various levels – be it the national level or the Indian Premier League (IPL) level – he also often proved to the biggest scorer. His exploits in the latest edition of the IPL is too well known.
We will badly miss you Jammy! You have signed-off with your head held high – for giving your best to the cause of the Indian team and for keeping cricket a truly gentleman’s game!