As the whole world watches, amidst the thunderous applause from the crowd and the players, the man walks past the ground, ending a legendary era of class, passion, and rectitude in the game of cricket – a scene best wished for The Wall of Indian Cricket, Rahul Dravid as he plays his last ODI match. He is a man the world adores for his skills and techniques, but the real worth of the great cricketer has often been hidden in the shadow of his contemporary legends, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.
What will his absence mean to the world cricket? We are going to miss the graceful flicks, the breathtaking timings, and the poetry in motion on the crease – those standards of cricketing fast vanishing from the game in this new era of unorthodoxy and pinch hitters. He epitomized the test cricket and played the role of India’s ‘go-to man’ in pressure situations. Nearing the end of an embarrassing two-month England series in which victory looked far ahead of Team India, Dravid’s exit from ODIs will definitely leave a void in the squad, the dependability factor which many wonder if any can fill.
Great talents cannot be hidden and so was Dravid’s who was spotted by former cricketers seeing an amazingly skillful kid scoring a century on debut for his school team. Fondly called Jammy by his classmates, the Bangalore boy began his cricketing career in his early teens as he represented the state at the under-15, under-17 and under-19 level. He made his one-day debut in 1996 against Sri Lanka replacing the spoiled kid of Indian cricket Vinod Kambli. He mastered the art of this gentleman’s game and lived by it for over 15 years now, a great cricketing saga that can never be erased from the books of cricket. In 2007, he become the third Indian player and the sixth in the world to score 10,000 runs in ODI cricket and with one match to go, he has 10,820 runs from 343 matches to his credit. The 38-year-old right-hander has scored 12 hundreds and 82 fifties.
Records are many but to cite an unusual one, he is the highest scorer to be overlooked for the Man of the Match award. Despite his career best 153 against New Zealand, the MoM went to Sachin Tendulkar for his unbeaten 186. Though a fault of none, he has been overshadowed, not once but many a times, by some of the equally great performance from his contemporary stars. The delight of his debut ODI century in 1997 was sunk at the glory of Saeed Anwar’s then world record of 194.
Against the popular notion, Rahul Dravid holds the record of scoring the second fastest fifty by an Indian in one-day cricket. His 82 fifties in ODI is the second highest by an Indian and the third highest by any in the history of cricket. He has been a part of two of the largest partnerships in world cricket – A 331-run stand with Sachin Tendulkar for the second wicket against New Zealand in 1999 and a 318-run partnership with Sourav Ganguly.
He has always been in the scene, cricket never left him neither he did. His embraced the spirit of the game so tight that he emerged victorious at each falls. And now, as he walks down the crease, one last time in the blue jersey, it bleeds not blue but tears down the eyes of his loyal spectators who loved the glorious game in its entirety.
- 5th ODI Preview: Dravid’s final act in the ODI drama (thecouchexpert.com)
- India face the final curtain (espncricinfo.com)
- Statistical highlights: India vs England, 4th ODI (Cricket) (alternatingcurrentnews.wordpress.com)
- Dravid to quit ODIs after England series (espncricinfo.com)
- India spark controversy by skipping ICC Awards (espncricinfo.com)
Author – Binu Paul,SI