England v India, 1st npower Test, Lord's July 19, 2011

Dravid returns to where it all began

Lord's operates on the same characteristics that have defined Rahul Dravid's career: discipline, order, balance, elegance, simplicity and respect
116

Rahul Dravid may as well confess he feels at home at Lord's. The ground operates on the same characteristics that have defined Dravid's career: discipline, order, balance, elegance, simplicity and respect.

He is an honorary MCC member and part of the MCC's world cricket committee and has been making an annual visit to NW8 since 2008. He intimately knows the walls and the portraits in the pavilion that houses the committee room and the famous Long Room.

So when Dravid says Lord's is a "very special" place for him, believe it. The respect is mutual. Dravid, who will become the first active member of the world cricket committee to play a Test at Lord's on Thursday, was even allowed today to enter the inner sanctum of the pavilion in the Indian team's bright blue tracksuit.

In the past, this would have been an unpardonable act at the 224-year-old MCC, long known for its insular and closed attitude; a place where you cannot enter without wearing a jacket and tie. It was an exceptional allowance granted to Dravid.

"It always brings back some special memories. I think this place is personally very special for me," Dravid said, when asked about his relationship with Lord's, the ground of his debut. The ground where he fell five runs short of a maiden century in his very first innings. He has only made 215 runs in the three matches he has played there but the hunger that was evident on June 20, 1996 hasn't diminished one bit. The appetite for runs is still the same.

"To start your Test career, at this venue 15 years ago was indeed very special for me. And coming back here, in some strange way you always feel at home. You feel that this is the place for cricket. This is the place that truly understands cricket, and history and tradition of the game," said Dravid, who along with Sachin Tendulkar, is the only member of the current team to play at Lord's in the 1990s.

Our first experience at anything, regardless of the outcome, invariably becomes the inerasable reference point of our lives. For Dravid, the third day of the second Test 15 years ago is that point. "It meant a lot to me. I had played five years of first-class cricket to break into the Indian team. I'd scored a lot of runs in domestic cricket and got an opportunity to come on the tour of England."

"At the start to series I wouldn't have given myself very good odds to even play with the kind of team that we had," he said. "There were a few injuries and I was lucky to get the opportunity and I knew that probably it would be the only one. Otherwise I would have to go back to domestic cricket and start the cycle all over again, scoring runs. But in India everyone scores a lot of runs in domestic cricket and sometimes it is very tough to break in. I had waited five years so I knew the significance and importance of it. So I was lucky. It was great for me, it meant so much. I never expected it to lead to anything. I never expected to be here 15 years later talking about it. Absolutely not."

Usually a reticent gent, and a bit stiff in front of the media, it was interesting to see Dravid open up about his insecurity as a youngster. But it is a nice example for today's youth like Abhinav Mukund and Suresh Raina in this squad and Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma and Murali Vijay back in India. Most of them are on the same wobbling platform that Dravid stood on in 1996.

"I remember when I was 50 not out at the end of the day and I was walking back to the hotel with [Javagal] Srinath and I knew somehow that this was probably a very significant innings. I knew I had some more breathing space, I got a few more Test matches at least. It gave me a lot of confidence scoring 95 here and 80 at Trent Bridge. It gave me a lot of confidence for me as a player and as a person, too."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on July 22, 2011, 22:09 GMT

    He deserves the spot light after all that he has done for team India.

    I am really angry at ESPN Cric info that they haven't placed Rahul Dravid among the 'Legends of Cricket' column.I mean he deserves it so much.He has 32 test centuries(5 Double centuries),A century against all test playing nations and a lot more records and achivements.How come he still didn't make it to the list ?

  • Ahsan_Shere on July 21, 2011, 16:55 GMT

    Dravid was a better player techically than Tendulkar during the first decade of their mutual career but after that Sachin showed so much of the improvement which resulted in almost 95% perfectness when it comes to Tendulkar's technique & 90% to Dravid. Heads off to you......you both are legends!!!!! But Dravid achieved only two-third of what player of his class should have achieved.

  • dummy4fb on July 21, 2011, 9:06 GMT

    Hats off...a century here is expected. I also thank for the ECB that they showed such a respect to Dravid- for allowing him in pavilion on his tracksuit...And in India whatever good hppens it is.......u all know the persons..name it..

  • dummy4fb on July 21, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    AM VERY PROUD TO BE AN BANGALOREAN, BECAUSE SUCH A HUGE CRICKETERS LET HIS PROMINENT WORK TO OUR INDIAN CRIC TEAM OVER 40YEARS, IN THAT LIST ONE OF THE BEST CRIC IS NONE OTHER THAN RAHUL, HE'S THE REALLY MASTER OF STROKING HITTER, HIS WAY HITTING THE BALL TILL NOW I NEVER SEEM FROM ANY BATSMAN, AND HE HAD PEASANT, CLARITY, SUPERIOR IS THE ALL PLUS POINT TO HIM, KEEP GOIN RAHUL WE R ALL DER IN YOUR BACKYARD, ROCKZZZZZZZZZZ.... FROM LUCKY

  • dummy4fb on July 21, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    True Legend of Cricket ! If Sachin is God of Cricket n Then Rahul s certainly the One standing next to Him !!!

  • bigdhonifan on July 20, 2011, 19:47 GMT

    At Adelaide in 2003, when India won a Test in Australia for the first time in a generation, he batted 835 minutes over two innings. A few months later, he was at the crease more than 12 hours for the 270 that clinched India's first series win in Pakistan.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on July 20, 2011, 17:58 GMT

    Dear Rahul, thanks a million for playing cricket. Please continue to play until you feel your body is not holding up or when you feel that you don't have that passion to continue. The humble man you are, you would be embarrassed if I say that you have had an unbelievable impact on my life and my profession. Vice-Principal Charles Noronha of St.Joseph's Boys School still fondly remembers your message at the back of the winning team picture from 1988. Your coaches at the school level made you practice with seniors as they understood that you are ahead of your age group. When you could have a lasting impact on somebody like me from this far, it's no wonder that people around you must be in awe of you. You never ceased to impress your teachers with your impeccable manners and you never cease to bring happiness and glory to Indians with such knocks that are of immense and unparalleled significance. God Bless You Sir. I wish you to continue to succeed in bringing more joy and glory to India.

  • stormy16 on July 20, 2011, 16:10 GMT

    I must say watching thsi bloke bat is one of those special moments because he so technically correct with his skills and temperement. He never ever seems to panic and the execution of his skills are simply awesome to watch. Also what a great bloke - cant ever recall him being caught up in anything remotely ugly and as a few of you have pointed out, the guy gets a raw deal because of Sachin. Its a strange thing but you cant have great players all over the place or they wont be great and with Sachin to content with, Dravid's simply been overshadowed but his record is second to none. Where does he stack with Lara, Ponting, Waugh - guess we can only decide when he finishes.

  • anilsamra09 on July 20, 2011, 16:02 GMT

    Rahul Dravid is an idol for me. I Like This Man Attitude Very Hard-Working Player. He will Play well In This Series.

  • Sanath-aiyya on July 20, 2011, 16:01 GMT

    ******************************** I am a diehard Sri lankan fan. But i have tremendous respect for Rahul Dravid. He is one indian cricketer that pleases the eye with his stroke play and his humility off and on the field.

    India s great wall indeed. Players like Yuvraj, Kohli , Harbhajan and Gambhir need to learn a few things about grace and humility from this great man

  • No featured comments at the moment.