When the resilient Rahul Sharad Dravid retired after playing his first, last and only international T20 cricket match, he finished with a strike rate of an enviable 147.61. Whilst such a strike rate might not have raised many an eyebrows if the willow thrashing the ball were to have been wielded by a Chris Gayle or a Virender Sehwag, coming from the blade of Dravid, this certainly had a “shock and awe” effect!! The excitement and flurry created was incredibly more than the one created when all of 40 million sheep in New Zealand arrived in unison to watch the filming of the immortal epic “The Lord Of The Rings”!!! This classy cricketer soon afterwards bid adieu to the 50 over format of the game as well during the disastrous English tour of India, in which, coincidentally he distinguished himself with the blade.
Cricketing folklore has it that when the ferocious Gilbert Jessop deposited cricket balls outside many a stadia with his thundering hits, the sound of the willow striking the ball resonated across the ground. Legend also has it that when the regal Walter Hammond waded into deliveries in essaying his booming drives, a multitude of the audience flinched and felt sorry for the cherry. And a million of us have seen the best of then all, Emperor Viv plunder pitiful bowlers without a semblance of mercy in a fashion, which he almost patented with distinction.
But these things are almost a sacrilege when Rahul Sharad Dravid a.k.a “The Wall” meets the ball with the full face of what must be the broadest blade in the realms of cricket. But this does not make this resilient cricketer a lesser class act than his peers. Dravid, a technically perfect wonder, and an absolute marvel to witness at the crease, has patience as his virtue, concentration as his hallmark and consistency, his middle name. Whether it be playing on the bounciest surface, with a barrage of snorters intending to assault his anatomy, or facing the best of the spin wizards on veritable minefields, he has always put a price on his wicket and how!! Ranging from giving the classy VVS Laxman able company during the course of a legendary victory against an exasperated Steve Waugh’s team at Kolkata, negotiating notorious seam and swing at Headingly to provide India with a phenomenal start, to slamming a magnificent double in Australia and leading India to victory, this legend has to employ a much used and abused cliché been there and literally done that!!
Whenever his country has needed him to perform, he has unassumingly, willingly and courageously put his hand up and done the job in a clinical, classy and clever manner. The sight of Dravid depressing his helmet with a gloved hand and buckets of sweat streaming down his face has been a sight that has both amazed and endeared itself to many a cricket lover across the globe. In addition to being one of India’s soundest ever technicians at the crease, this genius has also been stupendous in the slips gobbling up catches in a metronomic vein. Though along with time, his reflexes also might have felt a natural wear and tear thereby leading to a few difficult ones as well as dollies being grassed, such lapses do not even for a second, take away the fact that this world record holder for the most number of catches is one of the safest ever catchers the cricketing world has been privy to.
Also the act of his donning the dapper’s gloves in the shorter version of the game has led to the fashioning of one of India’s best ever victories in limited overs cricket, and more importantly accommodating the proverbial extra batsman, a concept which personally gives me the jitters!
Equipped with loads of talent, unwavering temperament and a keen cricketing acumen, Rahul Dravid is Indian Cricket’s miracle-man. But for this fantastic cricketer and the down to earth human being himself, every achievement, every encomium and every adulation, might construe just another brick in the WALL!!!