Rahul Dravid's retirement March 11, 2012

'He taught us to value our wicket'

Four young Indian batsmen speak to ESPNcricinfo about what they've learnt from Rahul Dravid

During Rahul Dravid's retirement announcement, one of the main questions asked was about filling the void in India's middle order with a worthy replacement. Dravid, stopping short of identifying his successors, replied, "I think there is a huge group of players that can be better than Rahul Dravid." However, MS Dhoni cautioned that it would be unadvisable for them to strictly focus on emulating Dravid, as it could put them under tremendous pressure and hence impede their growth. ESPNcricinfo asked four young Indian batsmen, on the fringes, what they've learnt from Dravid

Cheteshwar Pujara

I was 20 or 21. He was playing for Karnataka against Saurashtra in Rajkot. He is one of my idols. I just wanted to ask him that if I wanted to play at the international level, what should I do and how can I improve myself.

He was very happy to talk to me. He was very friendly. He told me he had heard a lot about me scoring in domestic cricket and he was really impressed with that. When you hear from a big player, that he has heard a bit about you, it is very nice. After that, he gave me a few tips about succeeding at the top level.

If it is similar to your game, it is easier to communicate and even he can understand my mentality, what I am thinking and how I can improve. Because he has gone through this stage many years back, he can understand a youngster's psychology.

(One thing you would take from Dravid's game) I would say his positive attitude towards the game. A bowler has to work really hard to get his wicket. That quality I admire a lot because even I don't like to get out.

In the Durban Test, I played a pull shot and got out. He saw that and when I asked him what went wrong, he told me to play my normal game. He had seen me play in the Ranji Trophy and said that normally you don't play those kinds of shots. "It is not your strength. You should play to your strength. The ball was skidding off the wicket and the bounce was so high you can't control the shot."

Ajinkya Rahane

He showed us how important your wicket is and to value it always. Another thing about him is how humble he always is on and off the field. That quality really stands out. I had made 165 and 98 in the 2008-09 Duleep Trophy final in Chennai against South Zone. He [Dravid] was part of that side. I wanted to go and ask him about my batting but was feeling hesitant about approaching such a big player. Instead, he himself came up to me and told me that I was doing well and needed to continue playing the way I had been playing.

He also told me that I belonged to the international level and would play for India soon. He asked me to develop more confidence in my batting which is so important at the highest level. To have my idol, who I had grown up watching, reposing so much faith in me was a huge thing. I have had the privilege of sharing two dressing rooms with him - India and Rajasthan Royals.

Abhinav Mukund

He is a very, very meticulous man. He is very careful about all the cricketing gear in his kit bag. It is all in order. It is never out of place. I saw it when I started playing alongside Dravid. He was just next to me and you could see all the pairs of gloves arranged neatly in one row. You could see the bats in one corner. You would never see things out of place. He is a man of order, I think. He is known for his professionalism and his ethics so it comes alongside his character.

There was one game where the ball flicked his shoelaces and he got out in England. You could notice the next day that he had changed his shoelaces and tucked them in deep. When you say that the man leaves nothing to chance, that is the biggest example of that.

He has definitely been very approachable. He is known to be a very quiet man but once you approach him, once you start talking to him, he keeps talking to you.

[One thing you would take from Dravid's game] Temperament. Ability to fight it out in the middle. Ability to prove to himself and to others that he can do it and he can do it outside the country. I think the biggest example would have been the tours of West Indies and England where he got four hundreds in seven Tests. The ability to prove people wrong again and again.

Rohit Sharma

I've learnt quite a lot from him. The first thing is putting a price on your wicket. Secondly, no matter what condition and situation you are batting in, never give up. Just be there, feel the heat, feel the pressure. That is when your true character shows. He showed us that. That is the biggest thing I learnt from him.

As told to Tariq Engineer and Abhishek Purohit

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 14, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    @Rohit Sharma: LOL. Really?

  • kan on March 12, 2012, 15:34 GMT

    Dravid is an absolute legend, he is one of finest, greatest cricketer World have ever produced, 10,000 runs in both Tests and ODIs !!! and he is so humble, gentleman, great ambassador of the game. his technique is best in the world and so is his slip catching, it will be big boot to fill, Pujara should be like for like replacement.

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2012, 14:00 GMT

    Grooming young players is the duty of seniors like Rahul and i think above expressions by young guns is testimony of Rahul role and contribution in this regards

  • Sam on March 12, 2012, 11:05 GMT

    Rahul Dravid epitomises the true batsman. Throughout his international career he conducted himself in a manner that was admirable to cricket lovers everywhere. We will still be able to watch him play in the IPL, and no doubt he account for himself well. India have a wealth of young talent that may have been transitioned too slowly into international cricket. Dravid's retirement provides an opportunity for one of the emerging young players to step up. If anything it cements Virat Kholi's place in the side. At some stage the young batsmen that have played with Dravid will actually start to apply his advice. When that happens I think we will see some new heroes.

  • Aabhas on March 12, 2012, 8:45 GMT

    We all salute Rahul Dravid. He has truly been the best contributor in the test team - in India and overseas. He is irreplacable. A void almost impossible to fill.

  • Sanjiv on March 12, 2012, 6:47 GMT

    Rohit, you are so slow to put into practice what Dravid taught you. Rohit doesn't knowit.

  • sudeep on March 11, 2012, 18:15 GMT

    Well!! I guess the following could be better lines for the kids to ponder if they really want to come anywhere close to him: "I was living a surreal life" "I have never stopped trying" " I have left no stones unturned" " I have done all best possible to become a player I can be" " I have always tried to give best my best shot" " I didn't think to drag it any more just in order to play that last one match" "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"

  • saran on March 11, 2012, 17:46 GMT

    Of all the young players.. Pujara is the most suited player for Tests... he has a good defence... and he is good both in front and back foot... hope to see him as Number 3 batsmen for india... it would be great if BCCI asks Rahul dravid to be a batting consultant or a Coach for India A...

  • sudeep on March 11, 2012, 17:27 GMT

    It will be foolish to learn a lesson from Dravid that is delimited by the line"Value one's wicket". He used to dream cricket and live cricket, he used to love cricket like a beloved. That is how he got a tremendous concentration and power which he used to transform in battling the pressure which came his way while he was batting. He challenged the pressure and he started having a love affair with it, as if he would go forsaken had there been no pressure, such was his passion, not a mere joke.He could not have held high prize of his wicket just because he longed for it, he had done all that was needed and he virtually established a religion, a path of batsmanship that had its sermons about enjoying the pressure,not only chew it but injest it,digest it and imbibe it leaving no trace of it whatsoever .He was a notorious sorcerer who had a mastery in exorcising the devil so-called pressure.If players like Rohit just wants to value his wicket, he is going to conjure the devil.Good luck!!

  • BALASUBRAMANIAN on March 11, 2012, 17:16 GMT

    The word thanks would not be a ryt one bt still the whole nation wud salute u for your contribution fr Indian cricket . You have don every role in a cricket . As a batsman scored more 20000 runs , as a fielder took more than 200 catches holds a record, as abowler u gt te wicket of Saeed anwar (Precious 1) . And most importantly u kept wickets during te tough phase and vice captained for India under dada. AS a captain u did a fine job in tests (Overseas wen compared current captain). WAT ELSE A PLAYER CAN DO FOR THE TEAM. A right decision to step down and nw u have become a REAL Hero. Hope ur palce can go for a better player like Pujara or Badrinath who has the test level maturity.

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