Bradman Oration December 14, 2011

Memorable at the Memorial

Rahul Dravid's meticulous, wide-ranging and fascinating speech proved very much the equal of a place that can rightfully be described as hallowed ground
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Had the orator been entirely unmemorable, the 2011 Bradman Oration would still have lived long in the mind's eye of all those present. The War Memorial in Canberra provided a backdrop that was at once breathtaking and sobering, heavy with the kind of meaning seldom found amid 21st century cricket's ever more commercial treadmill of fixtures. As it turned out, Rahul Dravid 's meticulous, wide-ranging and fascinating speech was perhaps the most significant delivered since the Oration began, and proved very much the equal of a place that can rightfully be described as hallowed ground.

The pathos of the Memorial was first apparent as guests walked into the halls commemorating Australia's military history. Passing through wings devoted to the first and second World Wars, the assembly of Australian cricket's great and good, plus the entire Indian touring party, arrived to dine in Anzac Hall. Pre-dinner conversations were as much about the venue as the cricket, for it was hard for guests to ignore the sights and sounds all around. The room is dominated by an Avro Lancaster bomber aircraft - those with a restricted view of the stage could take plenty of solace in the uniqueness of the obstruction. They might also have noted that India's players were dressed resplendently in team blazers, a gesture of respect the team had not managed to accomplish for the most recent edition of the ICC awards.

Not long after all had settled in their seats, word was relayed that Dravid's speech would be delivered earlier in the night than planned, the better to accommodate the jet-lagged bodies of an Indian touring team that had arrived in Canberra at 3am that morning. It was a concession to exactly the sort of crammed and muddled schedule that Dravid would go on to examine in one of the more striking passages of his speech, and a cause for some hurried shuffling of dinner plates in the Memorial kitchen.

After a few words of introduction from Cricket Australia's chairman Wally Edwards, and enjoyable recognition of the men who took part in the 1945 "Victory Tests" in England, Dravid walked to the stand, to deliver what he had confessed to CA would be his first significant speech of any kind. There were a few early nerves, and some self-deprecation to win over the audience, plus the observation that before India and Australia had been cricketing foes they were military allies, under the umbrella of empire.

Much as Kumar Sangakkara had done in his famed Cowdrey Lecture at Lord's earlier this year, Dravid spoke in a way that reflected his character as much as the occasion. There were jokes, but only a handful, echoing the studious nature of the man. More abundant were thoughtful, considered observations, sculpted with care and precision like so many of Dravid's strokes for India in Test matches over the past 15 years.

Dravid spoke in a way that reflected his character as much as the occasion. There were jokes, but only a handful, echoing the studious nature of the man. More abundant were thoughtful, considered observations, sculpted with care and precision like so many of Dravid's strokes for India in Test matches over the past 15 years

He did not criticise India for its wealth and power in cricket, preferring to demonstrate how that wealth and its television offshoots had turned the game of princes and well-to-do businessmen into that of the people, whatever their language, background or financial standing. This was artfully demonstrated by an illustration of the diversity now found within the Indian dressing room. He did not swing heedlessly at the ICC, so often an easy target for angry words. Instead he counseled all administrators to look at why crowds had recently fallen even in India, and to ask themselves how the erosion of support for the game would hurt everyone, even if today they can still negotiate a fat broadcast rights contract for matches attended by no-one.

The balance of formats was addressed carefully, for the matter is at the same level of complexity that Muttiah Muralitharan once concocted for the world's batsmen. Test cricket, Dravid declared, had to be protected in the manner of its scheduling, while ODIs should be contested less frequently, and with more care. Twenty20, the game Dravid has most cause to view with suspicion as a batting classicist, has its best place as a contest between domestic teams or clubs. Given their own similarly held views, the heads of CA chairmen past and present could be seen perking up at this point. Dravid observed that all formats have a place, but not an equal one, for to maintain the present glut of fixtures would be to overburden the public and the players to the point of no return, be it financial or otherwise.

Finally, Dravid directed his words towards the cricket pitch, to the place he finds from time to time where the wider issues of money, attendances, formats and corruption are swept away. Every now and then, Dravid said, it was possible to feel the same rush of excitement that accompanied his first boundary, first catch, or first victory. The timelessness of such moments gave him pause to consider his link in the game's long history, and the role cricket's players and organisers must play in the preservation of its future. As he concluded, the room rose to applaud, having been kept enthralled for more than 40 minutes.

As the audience drifted off into the cold Canberra night, the nature of most conversation had changed. Where beforehand much of the talk centered on the majesty of the venue, now it was all about the content of the speech and the character of the speaker. Plenty of words were used to describe what Dravid had said, but among the most common of all was "insightful". Dravid had provoked plenty of deep thought, and it can only be hoped that his words will go on to inspire equally thoughtful action.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on December 17, 2011, 23:14 GMT

    to liten to this speech. one fo the greatest speeches i have ever ever heard. Full of humility and spoken gently. A true representation of the wonderful nature of rahul dravid. And how much he will be missed when he is gone.

  • sweetspot on December 17, 2011, 17:38 GMT

    @Sanath-aiyya - I don't care if Dravid delivered this speech in his underwear. The content is where the man really scored for all of us - in case you didn't care to notice.

  • on December 16, 2011, 0:18 GMT

    Dear Rahul, You have been a role model for me for many years. You moved me to tears with that fantastic speech. I play cricket as an enthusiast. The moments when all I am is a cricketer - when I cease to be a husband, a father, a son - is something that stirs my soul. Thank you for capturing the essence of the game. My warmest wishes to you and yours in this Holiday Season. With Respect, Murali

  • on December 15, 2011, 21:34 GMT

    Sanath-Aiyya: Seriously? You seriously think Dravid, of all people, would get to the Bradman Oration in THAT attire?

  • on December 15, 2011, 19:46 GMT

    @Sanath-aiyya

    It is a file photo.. check for the video you will know... coment before knowin..

  • on December 15, 2011, 16:07 GMT

    The true indian man, the one and only foreigner who give has given chance lecture on bradman oration programme, honest indian rahul dravid...i m proud of him..

  • Sanath-aiyya on December 15, 2011, 13:27 GMT

    typical indian - doesnt wear a suit and wears a baggy shirt lol

  • bumbles11 on December 15, 2011, 12:51 GMT

    Dravid is a class act on the pitch and more so off of it, highlighted by his speech. I read it today and agree with everything he said. He should lead the ICC when he retires as he is a gentleman and a leader with principles.

  • on December 15, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    Speechless..... A salute to the cricketing legend who redefined cricketing genres

  • veerendrac on December 15, 2011, 7:06 GMT

    Indeed very thoughtful and honest opinion from Dravid which should be addressed by the cricket administrators (ICC , CA, BCCI ..) Kudos Dravid !

  • on December 17, 2011, 23:14 GMT

    to liten to this speech. one fo the greatest speeches i have ever ever heard. Full of humility and spoken gently. A true representation of the wonderful nature of rahul dravid. And how much he will be missed when he is gone.

  • sweetspot on December 17, 2011, 17:38 GMT

    @Sanath-aiyya - I don't care if Dravid delivered this speech in his underwear. The content is where the man really scored for all of us - in case you didn't care to notice.

  • on December 16, 2011, 0:18 GMT

    Dear Rahul, You have been a role model for me for many years. You moved me to tears with that fantastic speech. I play cricket as an enthusiast. The moments when all I am is a cricketer - when I cease to be a husband, a father, a son - is something that stirs my soul. Thank you for capturing the essence of the game. My warmest wishes to you and yours in this Holiday Season. With Respect, Murali

  • on December 15, 2011, 21:34 GMT

    Sanath-Aiyya: Seriously? You seriously think Dravid, of all people, would get to the Bradman Oration in THAT attire?

  • on December 15, 2011, 19:46 GMT

    @Sanath-aiyya

    It is a file photo.. check for the video you will know... coment before knowin..

  • on December 15, 2011, 16:07 GMT

    The true indian man, the one and only foreigner who give has given chance lecture on bradman oration programme, honest indian rahul dravid...i m proud of him..

  • Sanath-aiyya on December 15, 2011, 13:27 GMT

    typical indian - doesnt wear a suit and wears a baggy shirt lol

  • bumbles11 on December 15, 2011, 12:51 GMT

    Dravid is a class act on the pitch and more so off of it, highlighted by his speech. I read it today and agree with everything he said. He should lead the ICC when he retires as he is a gentleman and a leader with principles.

  • on December 15, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    Speechless..... A salute to the cricketing legend who redefined cricketing genres

  • veerendrac on December 15, 2011, 7:06 GMT

    Indeed very thoughtful and honest opinion from Dravid which should be addressed by the cricket administrators (ICC , CA, BCCI ..) Kudos Dravid !

  • on December 15, 2011, 6:59 GMT

    I always respected this great man , only one thing after reading your whole speech - I salute you. Thanks for inspiring me.

  • Positive_Critic on December 15, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    Its so nice to see Rahul Dravid catching the limelight for a change..... Feels good... High time he gets his due back home in india too... Still remember the guy scoring his 12000th run and the media were frenzy about some missed landmark of Tendulkar..Even Harsha Bhogle could not stop himself from writing an article on such an act of the media/peope

  • on December 15, 2011, 6:38 GMT

    Hats off to a man and character for the ages.

  • India_boy on December 15, 2011, 6:35 GMT

    ROBERT DE NIRO to WESLEY SNIPES in the movie THE FAN - "A simple Thank You would have been nice" this speech reminds me of this dialogue, strangely it comes from the player itself :)

  • on December 15, 2011, 6:08 GMT

    Great speech by a Great Cricketer as well as Great human being...Well done Rahul Sir

  • SouthPaw on December 15, 2011, 5:42 GMT

    Hey Guys, Isn't it time that people talked about what Dravid spoke rather than discussed about the guy? I mean, he is talking some serious stuff & here we are debating about who is a better speaker and such. Instead, why don't we talk about why test matches are scheduled for Monday starts, ODIs on work days instead of on weekends (recent India - WI program), etc.?

  • Fast_Track_Bully on December 15, 2011, 5:01 GMT

    @Matricfail. The same applicable to the rest of the world too! some blind fans of Ricky Ponting or Afridi or Bell! and GenX fans of Watson, Styen or Broad!

  • vinodkumar on December 15, 2011, 4:32 GMT

    Dravid's speeach like his game was impeccable. It was well researched and had enough humour to evoke laughter from both Indians and Ausssies. It also expressed the involvement of the man in the game and his true concerns about the future of the game. Remarkable. The guys present there should feel privileged and honoured to hear the great man speak .

  • Farce-Follower on December 15, 2011, 4:22 GMT

    @Matricfail and findadiat : What both of you have said is very true. But believe me, there is a vast audience in India, be it Bangalore, Kolkata or Mumbai, who acknowledge Dravid as the Ultimate Cricket Ambassador. He has made us proud once again, just as his state-mate, Kumble did in Oz in 2007-08.

  • Srini_Indian on December 15, 2011, 3:47 GMT

    Rahul the legend. One of the greatest batsman of all time and the best no.3 batsman country miles ahead of Ricky Ponting.

  • on December 14, 2011, 23:52 GMT

    Legend!! 'nuff said...

  • pitch_it_up on December 14, 2011, 23:26 GMT

    Ofcource, a speech of this quality from an Indian has to come from this great simple man only!

    -Prashanth

  • on December 14, 2011, 22:04 GMT

    Dravid is the Perfect example for the word "INSIGHTFUL" ....!!!

  • on December 14, 2011, 21:54 GMT

    Every Cricketer,Every Critic & Every FAN should listen to this speech....I'm sure this will boost and also realize the importance of this game..

  • Parsuram on December 14, 2011, 19:09 GMT

    This is an excellent speech by Dravid. He demonstated great command of the English language and reminds us all that being a quality cricketer does not prevent anyone from being an excellent orator. I hope his advice is taken seriouslyby the ICC. We need test cricket to be preserved. I am hoping that Dravid's fabulous speecch would encourage Cricket Australia to invite other cricket greats to deliver the Bradman speech. Sachin Tenddulkar is also a great public speaker. I would love to hear him deliver this prestigious speech. Other cricketers who should come in the reckoning include Brian Lara, Stephen Flemming, Nasser Hussain, Jacqes Kallis, Sourav Ganguly, Micheal Atherton and Ramiz Raja. Criket Australia should be congratulated for making a fine choice in Rahul Dravid. I hope that will create a precedent for cricket lovers to hear other fine speeches by great cricketers, including Australians.

  • on December 14, 2011, 18:56 GMT

    I would have loved to watch this live. A video of this speech would would be great. I read the entire text and it was very thoughtfully written. In any case, nothing less was expected from someone like him.

  • kabe_ag7 on December 14, 2011, 18:56 GMT

    @Matricfail - "Unfortunately third categories is smallest." I don't think so. These '3rd category fans' only happen to speak less, just like Dravid and hence less visible to you.

  • on December 14, 2011, 18:23 GMT

    His eloquence at the podium, matched his smoothness and mastery at the pitch. He caressed the words like the ball middled to the boundary. His insight was as keen as his cuts on the offside and he analysed the tribulations of the game like he dissects the covers. Such touch. A formidable ambassador for the game and the players

  • docnil on December 14, 2011, 18:20 GMT

    I'm really impressed regarding his analytical skills in surgical perfection. This genius has much more to offer in future in this game if he is allowed to do so, unlike what happened in NCA with Kumble. Just not sure how it has been penetrated inside the grey matter of our respected ICC technical committee members!!!!

  • on December 14, 2011, 18:13 GMT

    insightful speech by the gentleman of cricket..hope the icc listens..

  • on December 14, 2011, 18:12 GMT

    @FitzRoyMarsupial LOL...he's got the second highest number of test runs, the fourth highest number of centuries only behind sachin, ponting, and kallis, and nobody has won more test matches for India. He's not just a class act, he's a modern day legend.

  • prashkannam on December 14, 2011, 17:50 GMT

    Words from an extremely Intelligent Bloke....who has every right to say what he has to and feels abt cricket in general.....being the oldest cricketer in this generation hes...not only a classy batsman...but a classy person as well..i do feel once he gives up cricket he should be heading BCCI one day...or be a selector bcos Rahul has so much 2 offer 2 indian and world cricket in general.....a think cricketer to boot...take a bow rahul!!

  • on December 14, 2011, 17:26 GMT

    What an excellent Speech! Take a Bow, Rahul !! Is the vid availale anywhere? Can cricinfo help with this please?

  • on December 14, 2011, 17:25 GMT

    Dravid tried to play the perfect stroke each time. For people who have never ever touched a cricket ball, test cricket might seem a bore. Do they know that Nari Contractor had a serious injury as those days they played the westindian quicks without helmets? Raman Lamba died fielding at forward shortleg, that Courtney Waslh refused to run out Salim jaffer in a world cup match, that Mohinder Amarnath helped India draw test matches against the westindian bowlers, that the life of a cricketer can be ruined by a wrong decision, that getting up early and running and cutting down on wrong foods is not easy? It all seems easy but the cricketer and in fact sports persons have to struggle a lot. Only a few of them move on to better lives. The sacrifices the families make. For us, there is luxury in life. You can make about 2000 mistakes and still have a decent job. A cricketer drops a catch and...So respect the game like Dravid. For Sir Don's sake, let the game be a game like when we were kids.

  • FitzroyMarsupial on December 14, 2011, 16:59 GMT

    Everyone can feel proud about this. Nice touch by CA to ask Rahul to give the Oration. Typical of the man; he took the task seriously, prepared a moving, thoughtful speech and represented himself and his country fantastically in the process.

    There are others who have scored more runs, more centuries, won more games - but RS Dravid is universally regarded as one of the game's class acts. Would be great if a video of the speech was made available on cricinfo/youtube.

  • on December 14, 2011, 16:52 GMT

    Great to listen to one of the very few gentlemen left.....Hope everyone else sees it in same light...

  • Matricfail on December 14, 2011, 16:27 GMT

    There are three type of cricket fans in India, first Sachin Tendulkar fans because they think there is nothing to cricket than Sachin. Second, GenX fans who follow Dhoni, Veeru, and Raina's from their point of view its all about hitting and no one can hit more than these, all GenX players are in India they say. Third,well informed genuine cricket lovers who respect players like Dravid, Sangakara, Smith, Kavin Pete etc etc. Unfortunately third categories is smallest. Dravid has highest IQ and thoughtfulness in Indian dressing room... He speaks very less because half of the players won't have a clue what he is saying and he knows that.

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  • Matricfail on December 14, 2011, 16:27 GMT

    There are three type of cricket fans in India, first Sachin Tendulkar fans because they think there is nothing to cricket than Sachin. Second, GenX fans who follow Dhoni, Veeru, and Raina's from their point of view its all about hitting and no one can hit more than these, all GenX players are in India they say. Third,well informed genuine cricket lovers who respect players like Dravid, Sangakara, Smith, Kavin Pete etc etc. Unfortunately third categories is smallest. Dravid has highest IQ and thoughtfulness in Indian dressing room... He speaks very less because half of the players won't have a clue what he is saying and he knows that.

  • on December 14, 2011, 16:52 GMT

    Great to listen to one of the very few gentlemen left.....Hope everyone else sees it in same light...

  • FitzroyMarsupial on December 14, 2011, 16:59 GMT

    Everyone can feel proud about this. Nice touch by CA to ask Rahul to give the Oration. Typical of the man; he took the task seriously, prepared a moving, thoughtful speech and represented himself and his country fantastically in the process.

    There are others who have scored more runs, more centuries, won more games - but RS Dravid is universally regarded as one of the game's class acts. Would be great if a video of the speech was made available on cricinfo/youtube.

  • on December 14, 2011, 17:25 GMT

    Dravid tried to play the perfect stroke each time. For people who have never ever touched a cricket ball, test cricket might seem a bore. Do they know that Nari Contractor had a serious injury as those days they played the westindian quicks without helmets? Raman Lamba died fielding at forward shortleg, that Courtney Waslh refused to run out Salim jaffer in a world cup match, that Mohinder Amarnath helped India draw test matches against the westindian bowlers, that the life of a cricketer can be ruined by a wrong decision, that getting up early and running and cutting down on wrong foods is not easy? It all seems easy but the cricketer and in fact sports persons have to struggle a lot. Only a few of them move on to better lives. The sacrifices the families make. For us, there is luxury in life. You can make about 2000 mistakes and still have a decent job. A cricketer drops a catch and...So respect the game like Dravid. For Sir Don's sake, let the game be a game like when we were kids.

  • on December 14, 2011, 17:26 GMT

    What an excellent Speech! Take a Bow, Rahul !! Is the vid availale anywhere? Can cricinfo help with this please?

  • prashkannam on December 14, 2011, 17:50 GMT

    Words from an extremely Intelligent Bloke....who has every right to say what he has to and feels abt cricket in general.....being the oldest cricketer in this generation hes...not only a classy batsman...but a classy person as well..i do feel once he gives up cricket he should be heading BCCI one day...or be a selector bcos Rahul has so much 2 offer 2 indian and world cricket in general.....a think cricketer to boot...take a bow rahul!!

  • on December 14, 2011, 18:12 GMT

    @FitzRoyMarsupial LOL...he's got the second highest number of test runs, the fourth highest number of centuries only behind sachin, ponting, and kallis, and nobody has won more test matches for India. He's not just a class act, he's a modern day legend.

  • on December 14, 2011, 18:13 GMT

    insightful speech by the gentleman of cricket..hope the icc listens..

  • docnil on December 14, 2011, 18:20 GMT

    I'm really impressed regarding his analytical skills in surgical perfection. This genius has much more to offer in future in this game if he is allowed to do so, unlike what happened in NCA with Kumble. Just not sure how it has been penetrated inside the grey matter of our respected ICC technical committee members!!!!

  • on December 14, 2011, 18:23 GMT

    His eloquence at the podium, matched his smoothness and mastery at the pitch. He caressed the words like the ball middled to the boundary. His insight was as keen as his cuts on the offside and he analysed the tribulations of the game like he dissects the covers. Such touch. A formidable ambassador for the game and the players