Rahul Dravid – One of India’s very best quits international cricket
Rahul Dravid ends his career with a reputation of class and dignity and with a record of immeasurable quality
“My approach to cricket has been reasonably simple: it was about giving everything to the team, it was about playing with dignity and it was about upholding the spirit of the game.”
Thousands upon thousands of tributes spread across Twitter, a large proportion contained the words “dignity”, “gentleman” and “legend”.
Rahul Dravid could retire from world cricket safe in the knowledge that his approach has been an immensely popular and successful one.
The 39-year-old called time on his international and domestic career at a news conference in Bangalore on Friday after taking time to consider his future following the recent tour of Australia.
He ends his career with a reputation of class and dignity and with a record of immeasurable quality.
His nickname of “The Wall” was not attributed lightly, during his 164 Test matches Dravid faced 31,258 deliveries. No other batsman in the game has faced more than 29,000 – a stark indication of the extremely high price Dravid put on his wicket and the fight he had to keep it.
Dravid was a fierce believer in the team ethic and he fought tooth and nail for his 10 team-mates in every cause.
Perhaps the perfect example was his actions at Lord’s in the last tour to England. Dravid donned the wicket keeping gloves in the middle of England’s first innings.
MS Dhoni was required to bowl due to depleted numbers and needed a replacement behind the stumps, senior man Dravid stepped up.
After a lengthy spell in the field, Dravid was soon required back in the middle, this time with a bat in his hand, and played the type of defiant innings that had now become synonymous with his career. He scored 103 not-out from 330 minutes as his team-mates withered under the English pressure.
In the second innings Dhoni again needed to bowl, Dravid again stepped in to keep and the pair swapped roles countless times during the match.
However, a head injury to Gautam Gambhir put his ability to bat in the usual spot at the top of the innings in doubt. And, as the Indian second innings began Gambhir didn’t appear.
Needing to bat a considerable amount of time to save the match, Dravid opened the innings instead. He was the oldest player in the match, had been on the field of play for all but 18 overs up to that point and had kept wicket for the first time competitively in years, yet he still fought for his side when other, much younger teammates seemed happier to hide in the dressing room.
He didn’t make a career from just heart and fight though, he was a superb batsman. He ends his playing days as the second highest run scorer in Test match cricket, behind Sachin Tendulkar. His highest point was an extremely consistent and profitable period stretched over four years and 16 series, in which he averaged 68 and scored 14 centuries.
He was one superstar in a side of many, part of a cavalier Indian batting line up full of eccentric, wristy players that had millions of fans screaming with delight at every boundary.
However, they had their short comings and their flair could get into trouble during matches. There was always one constant and Dravid was it.
He was pivotal, an anchor that allowed the others to cut loose. A dependable, consistent man that excelled at every form of the game and at every discipline he encountered.
He was one of India’s very best.