Australian cricketing legend Matthew Hayden once said: “All this going around is not aggression. If you want to see aggression on the cricket field, look into Rahul Dravid’s eyes.” Rahul Dravid, was the Batman of Indian cricket, a hero the nation may not have wanted, but always deserved and needed. If Sachin was a talented God, Rahul was determination personified, and artist in his own way. These two were arguably the best batsmen our country had ever produced. But any argument which starts with who was a better batsman always ends with a sad quote that Dravid was unlucky to be born in a Tendulkar era. Cricket in India has been a religion, ever since Kapil Dev’s team won us the world cup in 1983, but Sachin was the one who glued us to the screens with his swashbuckling stroke making, breaking every record on his way. But it was Dravid who took matters into his own hands when the going went tough, and with his absolute bloody-minded refusal to accept loss showed us how to become a soldier. When the shit hits the fan, some guys run and some guys stay. Dravid stayed, and how! He stood tall, even amidst fierce bowlers, leaving deliveries with utter disdain, yet one straight drive or one square cut and you just know what elegance is. Dravid was given every job that there could be on the cricket field and he shone. He was a great batsman, an amazing fielder in the slips and a formidable wicketkeeper. He could bat for hours, day after day, tiring bowlers out and ensuring India won the game or clinch a draw from a lost game. Navjot Singh Sidhu, once said, “Rahul Dravid is a player who would walk on broken glass if his team asks him to.”
Rahul Dravid was a reliable warrior, who could give fans a faith when in their God could not go beyond his landmarks. Sachin might have scored centuries, but when he failed, no matter how tough the conditions, Dravid knew how to stand like a ‘wall’. Yes, aptly titled, ‘The Wall’ was, however, overshadowed by the ‘God’. We often imagine what Dravid would have been, if Sachin was not in the team. In more ways than one, Dravid helped a lot of batsmen including Sachin to gain a win for the team. Some of his innings might not have been entertaining to watch, but his methods went beyond that. He would tire the bowlers out, frustrating them to the point, that the batsmen on the other end also reaped the benefits and scored runs.
Dravid was relatable to the common man, as we could see him struggle with imperfection to victories, while Sachin was a flawless giant, a God. When Sachin is something too good to achieve, Dravid is motivation personified. But Dravid’s best achievement was, that he brought back the ‘gentleman’ in the game. Dravid’s was a personality with an aura and grace. Once, he came to the field, there was a certain sense of calm, while the opposition trembled with the sheer thought of the amount of work they have to do.
Batting great, Brian Lara had once said, “If I have to put anyone to bat for my life, it’ll be Kallis or Dravid”. Rahul Dravid deserves all the success he has received and some more.