Rahul Dravid's retirement March 27, 2012

'Dravid walked through obstacles, not around them'


It was an evening filled with emotion in Mumbai - Rahul Dravid almost cried and VVS Laxman had moist eyes, while Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni sang praises of Dravid, one of the flagbearers of Indian cricket's golden generation.

The occasion was Dravid's felicitation by the BCCI, following his recently announced retirement from international and first-class cricket. Two of the biggest men in Indian cricket, BCCI president N Srinivasan (unwell) and Sachin Tendulkar (reasons unknown) might have been absent, but the event, which took place on the plush lawns of a five-star hotel, was still very well attended. Many prominent former cricketers - including Sunil Gavaskar, Ajit Wadekar, Bishan Bedi, Mohinder Amarnath and Dilip Vengsarkar - and the entire India squad that will play the one-off Twenty20 against South Africa, along with senior BCCI officials, were there.

After a recorded message from Srinivasan played out, Kumble, Ganguly, Laxman and Dhoni walked up to the podium to pass on messages of thanks to Dravid. He was 'Jam' to his contemporary, Kumble, and 'Rahul bhai' to younger team-mate and captain Dhoni, who said Dravid was Indian cricket's man Friday.

"He was someone who would walk through obstacles, not someone who would go around the obstacles," Dhoni said, summing up the character of Dravid who, all the speakers agreed, was always willing to give his all at all times. "He was someone who was ready to do anything and everything needed for the team: whether it came to opening the innings, wicketkeeping, or standing at slips or silly point, his answer was always 'yes'," Dhoni said. He also reserved special praise for Dravid's wicketkeeping skills, saying "some of the catches he took, may be a regular wicketkeeper would never have taken [them]".

Dhoni said it was not only him, but all the younger players who were paying a tribute to Dravid through him. Dravid, he said, always prepared the same meticulous way, no matter who the opponent was.

Ganguly, under whose captaincy Dravid played some of his best innings, said having Dravid as a deputy was a 'pillow of comfort'. He held Dravid and the then coach John Wright responsible for him finishing as one of the most successful India captains. "A lot of people talk about me being the captain, but behind the scenes lot of work was done by you [Dravid] and John, which made Indian cricket successful," Ganguly said. "To sum-up your career I can say only one word: outstanding, and I'm sure you must be a proud man today. The contribution you made to Indian cricket [was] not just the runs you scored, but [the fact that] you played in an era in which Indian cricket went from strength to strength."

Kumble said one of Dravid's biggest strengths was his commitment to the task. "We shared a lot of evenings out. He knew what I hated, what I'd order … he'd know what it was. When we were having discussions, we'd be lost in our own thoughts. He would probably be preparing [mentally] for the next day's batting, or analysing the day's play," Kumble said. "This is what his commitment and pride for the game was. This is something that'll be missed in the dressing room."

Laxman, Dravid's best man on so many occasions including the historic Kolkata Test against Australia in 2001, said his forte was humility in the face of big accomplishments. "Even after so many achievements, he has always been level headed and for me that is his greatness," Laxman said in an emotional speech, during which he urged everyone present to stand up and give his friend, Rahul, an ovation.

Dravid, who walked in with his family, wife, children, parents and brother included, listened intently to every speaker and did not forget to thank each of these four former team-mates when his turn to talk came around. He said it was the players' performance along with the support from the BCCI that had helped India move from being regarded as "second-class citizens" to "dictating terms" in international cricket.

Before he said his final goodbye, Dravid told Dhoni and the rest of the India squad that he was certain that Indian cricket's legacy was now in safe hands. "I may not be playing for India anymore but to the present Indian team what I would like to say is: guys, I will watch with great interest what I think is an extremely exciting and really talented group of young cricketers," he said. "I hope Indian cricket will always be a strong force, both on the field and off the field. And I have no doubt that I would take great pleasure, with a cup of tea and a biscuit in my hand, in watching you guys achieve great things."

Read the transcript of Dravid's speech here.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Harish on March 30, 2012, 19:53 GMT

    I cannot accept that Rahul Dravid has retired. I am somehow controlling my emotions that the team India is only playing a test match in September. But when finally that day comes and when there will no Rahul Dravid walking onto the pitch when the first indian wicket falls, we will really start to miss this great man. But I am sure that Rahul will come back some day in future and start contributing to the welfare of Indian cricket with the same excellence, commitment and dedication that he did all these 16 years with the Indian team. I wish Rahul all the best in his future endeavours and personal life.

  • Matt on March 29, 2012, 1:19 GMT

    Can someone please explain to me why Dravid is retiring, his recent form in England and Australia was not grounds for being dropped, in fact if anyone should be shown the door its VVS Laxman! Dravid has 2 more years of test cricket in him.

  • Niraj on March 29, 2012, 0:01 GMT

    I don't understand why people are thinking that Sachin skipped this function purposely. When Dravid decided to retire, Sachin was the first one to pay him the tribute. Another reason to bash Sachin-wow! May be you guys should find something better to do with your time than spending it in bashing the once-in-a-century cricketer :). Sachin and Dravid always were good teammates. Dravid will go down as one of the greatest cricketers, but come on people, you don't have to say things about the little master just to prove that Dravid was a great man and a great cricketer. His feats speak for themselves. By bashing Sachin, you are not only insulting Sachin, but also the great man Dravid. If you admire Dravid, admire him, but why bring SRT in the discussion.

  • Dummy4 on March 28, 2012, 23:01 GMT

    @RasCric..no dude..dravid is not selfish according to tendulkars definition/./.those who retires on high are selfish...dravid retired on low so he was not selfish...dont say anything without any logic

  • Subash on March 28, 2012, 19:51 GMT

    @Kumaran: Very well Said. We may see another Sachin but we will never see another Dravid. @Prodigy: What about Javagal Srinath who redefined fast bowling for India. Unfortunately he was overused and thus had to retire well before the end of his time.

  • Dummy4 on March 28, 2012, 18:45 GMT

    The only way to comment about retirement of Dravid is, "The End of Test Cricket in India".There can be many talented players competing to be the next sachin but to be a next Dravid, not only requires to be a great batsmen but great team man and great human being which is a tougher challenge.

  • Shiv on March 28, 2012, 17:22 GMT

    I think the players who really changed Indian team together were Sehwag, Sachin, Dravid, VVS, Saurav, Kumble, Bhajji and Zak. There were other people coming and going but i think this core team should be given credit.

  • Dummy4 on March 28, 2012, 17:20 GMT

    Hey dont say some thing like that about Sachin. He is just trying to give his place to his Son, just what most politicians do in India. By 2015 his son will be 17 and is fit to make it to the international stage..

  • Sajid on March 28, 2012, 16:14 GMT

    Being a Pakistani and a cricket lover, I think Ganguly and Dravid changed Indian cricket. Without any doubt Sachin is the greatest player India has ever produced but when Gangs and The Wall came around, they were different team altogether. The biggest difference between Rahul and Sachin was that Rahul won many matches for India and Sachin los many matches for India. Dravid was not a leader but he was excellent executioner as directed by his leader. He was brave to open against Akhter when India could not find any one to do that and when they needed him to bat for longer periods and then keep wickets for opposition's entire innings. He was probably the best in technique wise in his era and most importantly he was a man of character and charisma which you can hardly find in subcontinent except Imran, Sachin, Waseem, Waqar, Gavaskar, Javed and Kapil. I would just wish Rahul to have a wonderful life from now onward, We all shall miss your batting and class.

  • Dummy4 on March 28, 2012, 15:24 GMT

    A great man with a great insight of the game. That is how I would sum up Rahul Dravid. An era has come to an end. Off the famous five (Sachin, Laxman, Rahul, Kumble and Souav), three off them have called it a day. The other two are also not going to hang around for very long. I wonder what interest will be left in watching cricket after these guys?. Virat, Dhoni etc. are good cricketers but cannot be matched with the famous five who have seen the rise of Indian criket. Sounds dogmatic but that is the fact. I wish Rahul a great time ahead.

  • No featured comments at the moment.