Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Rahul Dravid Tribute

Rahul Dravid, a player Indian cricket has so much to thank for. Equipped with a textbook technique and defence-first strategy, he truly was a rare breed coming from India, a nation that prides on trigger happy flamboyance. They called him The Wall, but I preferred to remember him as The Backbone.

His Test Match Legacy
India's overseas record in the nineties was a joke. Out of 39 test matches outside of Indian borders in the 1990s India won one test match, one single match in a full decade and that too in the sub-continent facing Sri Lanka. They were nothing short of flat track bullies who were ritually reduced to rubble when away from their comfortable dead wickets.

The resurgence of the 2000's largely came through a quintet of batsmen, however those other four would not have been enough alone. India needed Rahul Dravid.

Deliverance. © Getty 

His polished technique, unflappable temperament and unbreakable determination is what first got India on the cricketing map as a real threat, particularly overseas. Whether it was against McGrath or Murali, whether in Peshawar or Perth, he proved himself as the most important piece of the puzzle that pushed them to an eventual number one ranking.

The Cruel Limited Overs Fate
As an ODI player he was sorely misunderstood. Idiotic selections and favouritism ensured he missed a good fifty games for his country and didn't even play a single match in 2008 and in 2010. 'Too slow' they would say, and they would banish him in favour of hot shots who couldn't hold a candle on a bowling wicket. He was cautious at worst and he never cost India a match because of a poor strike rate, this was nothing but a myth.

For a period he was also unfairly given the wicket-keeping duties when they never belonged to him, and fought through a turbulent cyclone as captain fuelled by the egos of Ganguly and Greg Chappell. If that was not enough, he was cruelly denied the chance to be part of the 2011 World Cup victory, despite 12 centuries, over 10,000 runs and more rescue acts than Michael Bevan. A crying shame for he deserved far better, and yet he still managed to carry himself through it all with grace.

The 5 Best Test Performances:

  1. Scored the most runs in England 2002 when India first started competing overseas.
  2. He was there with Laxman during the Eden Gardens miracle with an equally important 180. No Dravid, no partnership, and the series would have been lost.
  3. His 233 and 72 double in Adelaide 2003 gave India their first real success in Australia, and an honourable drawn series.
  4. His 207 in Pakistan 2004 sealed a first ever series victory there.
  5. Was the only Indian batsman to make runs in the embarrassing 2011 England tour.

The 5 Most Memorable ODI Performances:

  1. Amongst the Sehwag carnage played a classy 99 only to be denied a century by Shoaib Akhtar.
  2. Smashed 50 off 22 balls against New Zealand to prove that he too can play the slog game.
  3. Top scored when eliminated by Sri Lanka in a horrendous 2007 World Cup.
  4. hard fought 76 was the only fight India had when eliminated by Pakistan in the Champions Trophy in 2009. He fell tragically to cramps and a run out. 
  5. Bowed out with style in 2011, with a typically solid innings of 69 against England.

That was just a sampler of the number of times Dravid was left last man standing among a crumpling heap of Indian batsman. He earns many compliments from critics and opponents alike, however he will never experience the blind worship and respect Tendulkar and Dhoni get back in his home country.

Perhaps for the better? India needed a better class of hero, and Dravid answered the call and delivered for more than fifteen years. A career and an individual that every Indian should be proud of.

Goodbye Rahul Dravid, and thanks.

1 comment: