Hiding behind the wall
Hey Rahul, some of these youngsters don't seem to fancy tough pitches, and those bouncers in the World Twenty20 in England were plain nasty. Do you mind playing ODIs in the South African pre-summer?
Hey Rahul, we know you were our second-highest run-getter in the matches you played on your comeback, but look at those flat pitches full of 400 runs, do you mind making way for the future of Indian cricket? Then again, we are sending an even worse message to the youngsters: that they are not good enough for tough conditions.
Two years later, with Dravid well past his 38th birthday:
Hey Rahul, our strike bowler has pulled up sore, do you mind keeping wicket while the captain bowls a few overs?
Hey Rahul, one of our openers delayed his surgery so he could play IPL and is missing now, and the other opener got injured during the match. Do you mind opening the innings soon after you have finished keeping wicket?
Hey Rahul, these English conditions seem tough again. We know we are world champions in this format without you, but do you mind seeing us through this series?
Yes, we know we punted on an untested opener in the most important Test series of the year, but we don't trust one of the youngsters to face the semi-old white Kookaburra that does less than the red Duke, loses its shine earlier, and cannot be bounced over the shoulder more than once in an over.
Never mind that you might not make it to the XI, because we might need all three of Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma to fill in the fifth bowler's quota anyway. Balanced squad has never been our forte, you know, otherwise how would Wriddhiman Saha have made his Test debut as a batsman? By the way, you could keep wicket again, freeing up the captain to bowl a few overs. Or do you fancy having a bowl yourself?
And just so that there are no hard feelings later, after this series, when Rajkot and Hyderabad are pregnant with the possibility of 400 runs and knee-high bounce, we might have to drop you again. But you know that already from how we didn't tell you what we expected of you the last time, and then left you out without a word on your future. You can't stand in the way of the future of Indian cricket, can you?
And we know you will show little sense of entitlement despite having scored close to 11,000 runs in the format. You won't moan in the press, there won't be any tantrums or disillusionment. Who knows two years down the line we might call you up for ODIs again? So keep hitting that gym, or whatever you do to stay in top condition.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo