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One of the great things about Rahul Dravid was how, without being falsely modest, he could leave cricket behind when off the field and connect with the world at a real level

Sambit Bal

March 9, 2012

Comments: 53 | Text size: A | A

Rahul Dravid greets a fan, Melbourne, December 23, 2011
Dravid: a normalcy about him that is almost abnormal © Getty Images
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It's hard not to feel a bit emotional today. Journalism has instilled in us the discipline of detachment, but it feels impossible at this hour to separate Rahul Dravid the cricketer I have watched from afar from the man I have come to know to a degree of proximity.

The last time I felt this way about a retirement was when Sunil Gavaskar went in 1987. I was merely a fan then, and it was through Gavaskar, my first hero, that I related to cricket. I felt personally cheated that his departure came without a warning. It left me with an emptiness that I dreaded I would never fill, and a gnawing feeling that I might never be able to feel about the game the same way again. Of course I was wrong.

Dravid's retirement doesn't come as a surprise. If you knew him, you ought to have expected it. The manner of his departure bears the stamp of the man: not for him the fanfare of a build-up to a farewell Test, the showmanship of a final doffing of the hat, or the milking of emotions.

He wouldn't be human if he hadn't wished for a better finish than an airy, un-Dravid-like waft far away from body that carried to ball into the lap of gully, but he was mature and pragmatic to accept that fairytale endings are a matter of chance: it would have been futile trying to wait for one or to try to manufacture one.

But though it feels right that Dravid should go this way, it's hard to feel uninvolved. Take this as a declaration of interest: with Dravid I strayed from the unwritten code of journalism of never befriending a subject.

It's not that I cultivated a friendship with him deliberately. It developed organically over the years, over phone calls about the occasional pieces he has written for us, over meals on tours, over chats about parenting and books, over shared thoughts and interests. That none of it has ever felt wrong has been down to the kind of person he is.

There are qualities about him that are naturally attractive. I remember the first time I spoke to him. It was in the second half of 2002. I was editing Wisden Asia Cricket, a fledgling magazine, and we were putting together a special issue on Sachin Tendulkar, who was due to play his 100th Test that September. I was unsure of what to expect. I had a small budget and I was determined to keep editorial pages free of sponsor logos. I was prepared for him to turn me down, but I dreaded having to deal with an agent.

Dravid was friendly over the phone. He heard out the brief, asked about word-count and deadline, and said yes. I offered to have someone call him and take the piece down, but he was clear that he wanted to write it himself. The question of a fee didn't come up. It was unprofessional of me not to have specified it, but I had been embarrassed to make an offer.

The piece turned up on the appointed date, more than a thousand words long, well-structured, thoughtful, with a touch of humour, and not a comma out of place. He later told me he had had it cleaned up by a friend, which I found even more impressive. He cared. We sent him a cheque, and he did write a few more pieces for us the following year, but the real motivation, I was to learn later, was to test himself at something different.

Indian cricket has been blessed in the last couple of decades with a group of exceptional cricketers who have conducted themselves with the kind of dignity that sometimes escapes celebrities. I have the good fortune to know some of them. Sachin Tendulkar's humility is not a posture; contrary to his on-field image, Sourav Ganguly is unfailingly courteous and charming; VVS Laxman has an endearing simplicity and a smile that reaches the eyes; and with Anil Kumble, there is a refreshing directness.

Dravid has many of these qualities. But there is something else. There is a normalcy about him that is almost abnormal. There are public figures who go out of their way to put you at ease, but the effort is palpable. Dravid does it just by being himself. There is no affectation and artifice to it. Not that he is unaware of his stardom or is falsely modest about his achievements, but he can step outside all that and connect with the world at a real level.

It's almost as if he leaves that part of his world behind him when he leaves the cricket field. And perhaps that's why he can see the cricket world from the outside, reflect on it objectively, and see the ironies and futilities of stardom. It's a rare and remarkable quality. It has helped him engage in relationships in the outside world without baggage.

And it made him one of the rare cricketers a journalist could afford to be friends with without compromising on professionalism. Through the years, our relationship has never been hostage to what was written about him on ESPNcricinfo under my watch. You could write about a poor performance or a poor run of scores from Dravid without worrying about his response, because you knew that unless it was malicious or patently false, he wouldn't hold it against you.

But for someone who rarely cared what was written about him, I found it baffling that he fretted so much about being misunderstood: the perception that despite being fairly accessible to the media he rarely articulated his thoughts and concerns about Indian cricket.

 
 
I asked if he regretted not having retired in England. His response was a further revelation of character. He would certainly have retired if he hadn't had a good series, he said, but after doing so well, retiring would have been selfish. There was a series to be won in Australia, and he owed it to the team to make the trip
 

He argued that he had his reasons. He once was a guest on a Time Out show with Harsha Bhogle and Sanjay Manjrekar, and while discussing India's younger players he wondered whether, even though many of them said the right things about Test cricket, they had an all-consuming desperation for it, given that they had other avenues. He went on to specify that he wasn't worried about the Suresh Rainas and the Rohit Sharmas, but the ones who came after them. By that evening it was being reported that Dravid had accused Raina of being uninterested in Test cricket.

It remained my belief that players needed to take more ownership of the game, and one of the most effective ways of doing it is to take stands on issues that mattered. That's why Dravid's Bradman Oration was impressive, not merely for its erudition but for confronting some of cricket's major challenges head-on.

Little were we to know that it would turn out to be his finest performance on his final tour.

Retirement has been on his mind for over a year now. We spoke about it during India's tour of South Africa in 2010. He dreaded the idea of lingering on past his time and was mindful of not standing in the way of younger players. Cheteshwar Pujara, to many the ideal successor to Dravid, had made an impressive debut in Bangalore and had taken India to victory with a confident fourth-innings half century, batting, incidentally, at No. 3.

But Pujara had already found a place in the team, and for Dravid the idea of a final series in England, where his Test career had started, and where Test cricket remains the most celebrated form, became appealing. With hindsight, nothing would have been more perfect than signing off after the hundred at The Oval. Even the most hopeless optimist wouldn't have forecast a better series for him in Australia.

When we spoke a couple of weeks ago, I asked if he regretted not having retired in England. His response was a further revelation of character. He would certainly have retired if he hadn't had a good series, he said, but after doing so well, retiring would have been selfish. There was a series to be won in Australia, and he owed it to the team to make the trip. And no, there were no regrets. He would do it no other way, even if offered a second chance.

There should be no sadness about his going. He will be remembered not for his last Test series, where he found every conceivable way to get bowled, but for an extraordinary body of work, for always putting his team first, for honouring the best traditions of the game, for impeccable behaviour in public life, and for being the perfect role model to his peers.

In the list of Indian batting greats, he will rank just behind Gavaskar and Tendulkar. For what his performances helped his team achieve, he is perhaps matchless. Barring his final hundreds in England, it's hard to recall a great Dravid innings that didn't either set up a win or help save a Test.

For me the man will always be even more special. Tendulkar said yesterday that there can never be another Rahul Dravid. He perhaps meant the cricketer. But it would be far tougher to find a man like him in the Indian dressing room again. In his retirement the side hasn't merely lost a man who could be counted on to stand up at the toughest times, but also a bit of its character.

His friendship counts among the most cherished rewards of my life as a cricket journalist. The cricketer will be missed, but the man will be around.

Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by zico123 on (March 12, 2012, 15:53 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.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2012, 13:33 GMT)

Apart from the already stated, what a great nickname..so approapriate.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (March 12, 2012, 10:16 GMT)

It seems to me that there are a large number of cricket fans in India who are blinded by statistics - hence the sheep-like adulation of he whose name has sent the rest of the cricket world to sleep long ago. A man, a cricketer, is not some gross aggregate of his stats - he is a member of a team; he possesses skill & resolve that will be tested on many important occasions. His conduct in various situations reveals his character - and his conduct is viewed and assessed by all who care to watch. There are no statistics that measure character, but give me a man of true & tested character - a man who shows the highest degree of integrity has a natural & easy dignity in all that he does, rather than a set of figures! In a decent society a man is not judged by his bank balance, but by the calibre of man he is: one cannot compensate for another. And as India grows to a major world power, choose men of the calibre of Rahul Dravid as the role model in preference to those with monster stats!

Posted by SatyajitM on (March 12, 2012, 7:35 GMT)

One of the true batting greats India produced and would always walk into the all time India eleven without any arguments (In fact all the first four places are easy to conclude). Self discipline is the best virtue the youngsters in the team can take from him. Many of his virtues are built on doing right things at the right time. Now that he is retired, team India would require both Sachin and Laxman to stay back for at least another year before one of them calls it a day. Wish Dravid having a fulfilling role in Indian cricket post his retirement.

Posted by skepticaloptimist on (March 12, 2012, 1:50 GMT)

@Mirza22 - By no means a Sachin fan, I smell jealously and outright condescension in your comment. I'm a much bigger Dravid fan because, of all the great batsmen, Dravid had the least talent, yet made it to the all-time greats. True class? Beyond a shadow of doubt. "Sachin a so called Master"? What kind of a hokey pokey is that? I don't see why people even have to bring Tendulkar's name into a page specifically written about Rahul Dravid. Keep the comments limited to Dravid

Posted by Mirza22 on (March 11, 2012, 8:28 GMT)

@Sachin86: You need to have a reality check mate. When it comes to playing match winning innings Dravid is far ahead of Sachin and here I must state that Sachin fans need not to be jealous or should be irked of any comparison as honestly there is no comparison. I fail to understand this mindset of Indian fans that no one is or can be better than Sachin. Dravid deserves an unconstrained appreciation for what he has done, not only for Indian cricket, but for the game of cricket. There is always going to be a comparison among the greats of game but it doesn't give us the right to be jealous of any association or comparison. Dravid was a True Class and Sachin a so called Master.

Posted by ROI-today on (March 11, 2012, 7:54 GMT)

I am a big admirer of Dravid..I feel Tendulkar said it best in 2 separate comments at different times.....one was when Dravid became the second highest run-getter in Tests..Tendulkar said Dravid is one of the biggest unsung heroes in Indian cricket, and now when he retired Tendulkar commented there would not be another Dravid.. I believe Dravid is not give enough credit for all his great achievements since he is often unfairly dumped under Tendulkar's shadow..In mid 2000s Dravid averaged more than Tendulkar...captaincy bogged him down probably because of awful selectors like Vengsarkar....who bullied him..and later Greg Chappell did the same..Dravid was also not flamboyant compared to Lara, Tendulkar and Ponting..and did not often dominate bowling attacks..so he is not mentioned in the same breath as the other 3..But I rate Dravid for his other strengths..He was also very versatile..From a great Test player, he made a very successful transition to One dayers..

Posted by RandyOZ on (March 11, 2012, 6:39 GMT)

Dravid, the greatest Indian batsman of all time. Batting at 3 and not chasing personal records, and a true champion.

Posted by sachin86 on (March 10, 2012, 17:53 GMT)

He is a good batsman but overrated in terms of match-winning capabilities.He is no better than sachin in match-winning or saving. In fact,sachin has way more innings when chips were down and everybody were faltering.Can't say the same for dravid as he had support for every century he had scored. Sachin,Lara and ponting are in a different league and then comes dravid,sangakkara,hayden,inzamam etc.

Remember dravid was not even selected in second all-time best XI team recently.

Posted by henchart on (March 10, 2012, 14:22 GMT)

Dravid was a good batsmen .There ends the matter.Why must every journalist drag Sachin into his article ? It is just to incite ardent fans .Sachin is a better batsman than Dravid or anybody else but Dravid has ,probably ,played few knocks more which lead to Indian victories than Sachin.But that in noway makes Sachin a lesser player.Remember one fact,Sachin is one of the greatest batsmen to have played cricket.The list is Bradman,Sobers,Viv Richards ,Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis.Period.

Posted by AdrianVanDenStael on (March 10, 2012, 12:25 GMT)

Rather than comparing to Dravid to other cricketers or commenting on his ability, I think this article has hit the right note by commenting on what an exceptional individual he is, and will remain even without playing cricket. Another thing that stands out is his flexibility in the ways in which he has served Indian cricket. Middle-order batsman, opening batsman, wicketkeeper, captain, standing down as captain even after leading the team to a rare overseas win in England, Dravid is a man who has put the team first.

Posted by harshthakor on (March 10, 2012, 12:17 GMT)

Overall to me Dravid wins a place in the top dozen batsman of all time and the top 5 one down batsman of all. At one time(in 2006) in ratings analysis he even surpassed Tendulkar.Had he maintained the same tempo after 2006 he would have been rated even above Lara and Tendulkar.(scored 8000 runs averaging over 58 runs)In a crisis I vote Dravid the best batsman of the modern era.. Of the specialists in a crisis I rate Dravid the best of all, ahead of Alan Border,Javed Miandad ,Ken Barrington,Ian Chappel,Steve Waugh or Jacques Kallis.In an analysis conducted by Anantha Narayana on cricinfo Dravid is amongst the 5top batsman since 1969 and amongst the 12 best ever.Dravid lacked the flamboyance of a Lara,Tendulkar or Ponting but when the chips were down outscored all of them. I have never seen batsman so powerful in the mind. Above all one of the most modest and graceful human beings to have stepped on a cricket field .

Posted by harshthakor on (March 10, 2012, 12:15 GMT)

Sadly,Rahul Dravid has bade farewell to International Cricket. No more will we witness this great character on a cricket field whose very presence was a sight to behold. Few batsmen ever in the game possessed greater character and exhibited such sound temperament.Dravid reminded you of a military commander displaying ice-cool nerves in war, especially when his army was facing imminent defeat. He was literally an impregnable wall.Dravid's tenacity was simply phenomenal. From the bouncy Australian tracks to the seaming English surfaces to the turning subcontinent tracks,Dravid was an ultimate master. The concentration he revealed reminded you of a monk meditating.

Technically, he was the best batsman of his era and arguably with Sunil Gavaskar technically the best batsman to have played for India. His defence was watertight and he wore down the best of bowling attacks like a boulder. His grammar was near perfect displayed by the timing of his footwork, which resembled a programmed mach

Posted by Ejaz1987 on (March 10, 2012, 10:21 GMT)

just one word......"The Most Legendary Indian cricketer ever ". he is higher than stats master Sachin in my list...he always played for the pride of the country.....a real genius and the most honest Indian cricketer of current era....

Posted by Narbavi on (March 10, 2012, 9:08 GMT)

@Makkumatr: i know everyone is entitled to make their opinions, but if u feel he was a bit overrated then i am sure u r not an ardent follower of the game!! its as simple as that!!

Posted by bangaloreboyy on (March 10, 2012, 8:14 GMT)

The retirement of Rahul Dravid feels like an ending of a chapter of my life. Thats indeed a strange and sad feeling..and that is the level of attachment I had with his persona. His first test brings me back nostalgic memories of that particular phase of my life that I still cherish, how I admired the arrival of this new cricketer who embodied class and a gentlemanly demeanor. Its sad that the kids growing up will never get some one like Dravid to emulate. Salute to you Dravid.

Posted by SriUSA on (March 10, 2012, 8:08 GMT)

Good post. There are three stars Sachin, Dravid and Laxman whose behavior off and on field should put rest of the stars to shame in any field. What humility and impeccable qualities. Have not seen in any other stars.

Posted by AtticusFinch on (March 10, 2012, 5:13 GMT)

"he will rank just after Gavaskar and Tendulkar..". Hmmm... Definitely the three form the Holy Trinity of Indian Batting of all time, but behind Tendulkar? I really dont agree. Dont want to make a comparison on a Dravid Tribute page, but dont you think that Dravid has played more Match saving and Match winning innings than Tendulkar? My ranking of the Holy Trinity would be Gavaskar, Dravid and then Tendulkar.

Posted by suman2 on (March 9, 2012, 21:23 GMT)

I have always thought that if I had to chose a couple of batsmen at their best to start their innings from zero to battle and save my life I would chose Steve Waugh and Rahul Dravid; not Tendulkar nor Lara. I can imagine what it is like having him as a player in the team. He is the closest to a guaranty that is possible in batsman-ship.

I hope he enjoys life after and remains as useful to cricket in retirement as he has been on the field.

Posted by ASHISH_RN on (March 9, 2012, 21:15 GMT)

I grew up watching Dravid playing, when I was in school. When I was in college - Dravid inspired me with all his hard work and right attitude. I look at people like Dravid and Tendulkar not as cricketers alone- they are excellent prefessionals too. They had been doing the top job in cricket world for 16-22 years. At times they failed too and faced lots of criticisms. But the best part what I learnt was- how to bear that tough time and how to come up with flying colors. While working just for 11 years in my job I feel tired and feel annoyed when I get any failure or criticism- but again people like Dravid and Tendulkar have showed a way to many people like me how to be focused, hardworking while being humble. Thanks so much Rahul for being one of my role models who inspired me in a way to groom in my career( in my job) upto certain extent. I owe that to gentlemen like you.

Posted by m3in_h00n_k0un on (March 9, 2012, 19:13 GMT)

hi. I am from Pakistan. and i rarely comment on articles. but this one is hard to pass on without saying something. Being a Pakistani Fan, i don't know much about many Indian players. but DRAVID U ARE GREAT. i mostly didnt' care what u scored, how many hundreds, catches or match winning performances but after now u retired, if i recall your contribution to the Indian TEAM, it was more then just saying THANKYOU. I wouldn't probably accept any Indian to coach a Pakistani player, but i wouldn't mind saying "except Dravid" . I wouldn't compare u with Tendualker, but if i was Asked, U are way above him in my opionion.

Thankyou for your contribution to the game and it was pleasure watching u.

Regards. Awais

Posted by CricHarsh on (March 9, 2012, 18:56 GMT)

Amazingly well written Mr Bal. Its interesting to observe how well you have first defined a journalist's moral boundary of detachment and then tread on that boundary with such gracious poise.In some sense thats make believe and in other magic realism. Quite like the fully stretched cover drive of Dravid.

Posted by JavinGoyal on (March 9, 2012, 18:41 GMT)

One thing which i keep noticing whenever somebody discusses Dravid or Sachin is that ppl keep comparing them... its always one against the other... dravid was better here, sachin wasnt... sachin cud withdstand such and such bowling, dravid cudnt..... y is always there this either/or attitude attitude guys?? y cant we just say and accept that our generation has literally seen many legends together in the same dressing room in the form of sachin, dravid, laxman, ganguly, kumble and sehwag..... PS Dravid, cricket wont be the same without u.... i always remember when there was a cont phase a liitle time ago when every single ball u got out to had to be exceptional.... but even more than ur batting skills, its ur presence and ur role as an ambassador of cricket that will be missed... AND plz dont become a commentator like ganguly has, instead become a coach or sth on the lines of kumble... PSS see u in IPL... :)

Posted by PranjalShah on (March 9, 2012, 18:25 GMT)

@Makkumatr... if you think Dravid is overrated then i think you dont know how cricket is played...salute to India's greatest match winner and world's best game saver

Posted by babubhaiyya on (March 9, 2012, 16:22 GMT)

I am From Pakistan ..... LOVE YOU DRAVID.... Grew up watching u..... there may be greater batsmen than u BUT U R THE BEST SPORTSMAN ever....... U were the last of your kind.... Do us one more favor.... Be a broadcaster so that we still C YOU.... TAKE A BOW GREAT MAN

Posted by Makkumatr on (March 9, 2012, 16:05 GMT)

Dravid has been a good Test cricketer for India, a little bit overrated though in my opinion. Time for the youngsters to shine now!

Posted by kingofsouthpaws on (March 9, 2012, 15:48 GMT)

A bow to Dravid and thanks to Bal for great articles on Dravid. He is often overshadowed in this Tendulkar crazy media. Dravid inspired me in number of occasions and he would continue to inspire many others. Good Luck to Dravid in his future endeavors.

Posted by inswing on (March 9, 2012, 15:42 GMT)

There will be no temples built for Dravid. There will be no Bharat Ratnas and no processions. But Dravid will live forever in the hearts and minds of fans who know better.

Posted by ProdigyA on (March 9, 2012, 15:22 GMT)

Reading this article actually reminds me of the importance of these legends - Sachin, Rahul, Saurav, VVS, Kumble in the dressing room and how important a role they played in keeping India free from Matching fixing after the first Azhar fiacso when actualy Match fixing was rampant and at its peak, the bookies could not touch these guys and hense the youger generation was also clean. These guys were not just great players but true gentlemen who led by example. No wonder the bookies were at bay.

Posted by AjaySridharan on (March 9, 2012, 15:15 GMT)

How lucky are you Sambit to have Dravid as a good friend!! Good article, thanks for giving us glimpses of his personality and character

Posted by ProdigyA on (March 9, 2012, 15:03 GMT)

@DRAVID_GRAVITAS - Are you crying ? im with you.

Posted by pitch_it_up on (March 9, 2012, 14:13 GMT)

Oh! The dreaded day has finally arrived!! It feels so painful to think that I'll never watch my hero, to whom a common man can relate to and draw inspiration from, play anymore. He is an embodiment of a true and genuine Cricketer, sportsman and above all a great human being. He is the last of the old world cricket which believes in playing the sport in the right Spirit, Technique, Purity and Classism. I belong to his generation and followed Cricket so intensely, and related to him (and players of our generation) in so many ways. I have to sadly admit that, with him retiring, a major part of my interest in Cricket will die and I'll also focus on my personal life (talk about mid-life crisis). Truly, an end of an era. Cricket has been poorer today. And yes, thanks for the memories.

Posted by pitch_it_up on (March 9, 2012, 14:05 GMT)

Oh! The dreaded day has finally come. It feels so painful to think that I'll never watch my hero, to whom a common man can relate to and draw inspiration from, play anymore. A great Cricketer, sportsman and above all a great human being. He is the last of the old world cricket which believes in playing the sport in the right Spirit, Technique, Purity and Classism. I belong to his generation and followed Cricket so intensly. I have to sadly admit that, with him retiring, a major part of my interest in Cricket will die and I'll also focus on my personal life (talk about mid-life crisis). Truly, an end of an era. Cricket has been poorer today.

Posted by shahabudeen on (March 9, 2012, 13:57 GMT)

Hope to see RD again in some admin role. Still no word from MSD!!

Posted by venkatesh018 on (March 9, 2012, 13:14 GMT)

After reading your article, I wonder whether we will be able to see anyone of his like again? A true gentleman and a great role model.

Posted by Ajit87 on (March 9, 2012, 12:49 GMT)

Can not forgot his "smile"when Steve Bucknor give him OUT in 2nd innings of Sydney Test 2007. ""Love His Cricket"",""Love his Style"",""Love his Personality""".

Posted by CivilGaurav on (March 9, 2012, 12:35 GMT)

Rahul, you have always been my favorite cricket. You are the most unselfish and humble cricketer and clearly the best test batsman ever for India. Like the little kid in the movie Fanaa, I too think you are Mr Dependable. I would have liked to see you play many more innings, but I think your timing of retirement is correct for the sole reason that India has no overseas tours for the next two year. Overseas you are indispensable! Salute to the greatest ever test batsman of India from an Indian!

Posted by kabe_ag7 on (March 9, 2012, 12:30 GMT)

"There was a series to be won in Australia, and he owed it to the team to make the trip." Also the fact that he announced the retirement after the ODI series, so as not to distract the team in the ODIs. Doesn't get more selfless than that.

Posted by A.Ak on (March 9, 2012, 12:04 GMT)

"a man who could be counted stand up at the toughest times" - This literally means Dravid. The last Indian and perhaps the last cricketer in the world to do that.

Posted by gmsjgmsj on (March 9, 2012, 11:58 GMT)

I'm 2 years younger than Rahul. I dont play cricket for India. But i do play street cricket every week with a tennis ball. I live for that weekly game, a game which gives me so much pleasure and hope for the next week ahead. As everyone knows, there are strict, silly rules in street cricket where you cant hit over the top. If you do so, you are out. I had totally wretched formative years in this type of cricket because i seldom pinched singles but looked to hit out. I was the ugly duckling of my team. It all changed when i watched Rahul bat that day in Eden in 2001. I understood that, whatever talent or technique one had in whatever form of cricket played, one must have tempermant. All else is worthless if you cant measure up against yourself. Essentially cricket is about battling yourself! As a humble tennis ball cricketer who learnt how to play cricket in street cricket, i heartily salute the Officer and Gentleman of Indian Cricket. God bless !

Posted by Vasi-Koosi on (March 9, 2012, 11:51 GMT)

THE WALL HAS BEEN ENSHRINED The most unassuming cricketer from India; possibly one of the shrewdest captain and the best ambassador of the game has hung his boots/bats/gloves; The retirement was on cards after the Aussie trip even before the trip; only that we wish he had gone with a hurrah He does not care about it, the hurrah is for us his fans… But, then again fans always want one more Everyone talks about his dour batting among other things; the one I remember is his 50 against NZL in 22 balls; all of them proper cricketing shots; there was no slogging, just timing and placement No 3 might not be difficult to fill - relatively speaking; The biggest gap - no pun intended - will be in the slip cordon; The WALL not standing there will make the biggest impact especially to the spinners; hope we do not have a gaping hole there in the days to come. He has been & will be the greatest TEAM man India has ever seen. Wishing you the very best Jammy!!!

Posted by Emancipator007 on (March 9, 2012, 11:51 GMT)

I would like to point out to younger fans that Gavaskar like Wall too was VERY approachable for many fans and common-man well wishers. However, his statesman-stature (STUPENDOUS success against WI teams and express pace) & his so-called defensive captaincy (a draw for him was akin to a victory cos of the AVERAGE bowling resources at his command barring Kapil) engendered a crab-like regional animosity against him during the pathetic, socialistic '80s era; recent critiquing of his "deliberative patriotic" commentary stints on ESPN to countervail the partisan approach of Channel 9 and Sky (witness Sunny being absolutely neutral on BBC) has made him aloof of late. SMG was actually the first Bharat Ratna of Indian cricket cos of the SCALE of his achievements in a tougher cricket era and also when the Imperial Cricket Conference (not ICC as we know it now) ran roughshod on Asian teams.SMG proved how astute he was as a captain when he led India unbeaten to the '85 B&H World Championship in OZ

Posted by Percy_Fender on (March 9, 2012, 11:50 GMT)

I saw that Test match in Bangalore between India and Pakistan in Feb 1987 which was to be Sunil Gavaskar;s swan song. His final innings of 96 on a minefield could not get India to cross the line but the greatness of that innings reduced the pain of knowing that I would not see Gavaskar in Tests again. So when he played in the centenary Test at Lord's later that year,it was very satisfying. And when he was given not out in the first innings to Malcolm Marshall ( when I think he was) it gave me great joy.Then the double century. Sunny made his debit in' 71 and retired 16 years later in '87.Dravid too after that memorable 95 at Lords in the summer of 96 has given us the same pleasure for nearly two decades. Given his gentlemanly and humble personality, Rahul Dravid has come to belong to most Indian homes with a love for cricket.He has a big role to play now as Indian cricket which needs to groom Pujara both as replacement and future captain. Certainly not Kohli. Thank you Mr Dravid.

Posted by ShahYash on (March 9, 2012, 11:41 GMT)

He was the best. I agree with Sachin that we can not found another Dravid in world cricket. Now Dravid should be indian batting coach as he is best in technique of batting and he can develop good atmosphere in dressing room.

Posted by Farce-Follower on (March 9, 2012, 11:34 GMT)

Its tough when a legend retires, especially one as prolific and graceful as RSD. May he enjoy his 'retired life'.

Posted by sameer997 on (March 9, 2012, 10:14 GMT)

one sad day of indian cricket:(

Posted by punter18 on (March 9, 2012, 9:58 GMT)

Yes, I am feeling a tad sad today, and without wanting to sound corny, my eyes are also a little watery while I type the comment. This is perhaps because I read what Sambit and Harsha have to say on the man, and what the man himself has to say on his retirement. Connect all three pieces and you will find that what Dravid is saying is a perfect reflection of what Harsha and Sambit have written in their farewell piece to Dravid: modesty, humility, humbleness, normalcy and an ability to articulate himself profoundly on the important Cricketing issues of the day. Ergo, the game didn't just lose a great character, but also its great statesman and spokesman. Sangakkara may wax better lyrical prose, but he would never match all the qualities mentioned above.

Posted by Emancipator007 on (March 9, 2012, 9:35 GMT)

Bal,age getting better of sepia memories (despite you being only 40!).Sunny retired in 1987;vividly remember feeling MOROSE when India played its first Test series against Viv's team after the '87 World Cup with no SMG on the scoreboard. Yes, I have been saying the same; Pujara is the natural successor to Dravid rather than Kohli (who I consider the "most ambitious young player in international cricket") who seems to be in VVS mold while Rohit shows the same class and pedigree of SRT (obviously without the returns though he has YET to play a Test). Good you highlighted Ganguly's off-field courteousness which was very diff from the hard-nosed, agro character which he fashioned on the field just to make India a WINNING team- that too at the cost of his image. P.S. I still think Bal just like me considers SMG the greater Indian Test bat than SRT (though SRT is the indisputably the most TALENTED, all-round bat of all time playing the same at 16 as at 39- unprecedented in cricket history!)

Posted by Narbavi on (March 9, 2012, 8:46 GMT)

Well said!! Rahul will be sorely missed!!

Posted by FoollyFedUp on (March 9, 2012, 8:43 GMT)

You are lucky, Mr. Bal, to have Rahul Dravid as a friend. A person of utmost integrity and exemplary values. We were privileged to watch Test Cricket with Dravid in Whites.

Posted by Alakshyendra on (March 9, 2012, 8:31 GMT)

Oh man, never could I have ever imagined that the retirement of a "mere" Cricket player would make me this sad, but it does. Today is a sad day in many ways; the world will never ever see Dravid again live in whites taking strike or crouching in the slips; but I'm glad he leaves with his head held high. He has left such a superb legacy, there is so much to celebrate about his outstanding career, but what is even better is what he is as a human being. Such a rare gem!

Thank you for the memories Dravid and may god give you a long, healthy and prosperous life!

Posted by mukesh2147 on (March 9, 2012, 8:30 GMT)

cant able to say anything,i like to see his old matches.to me cricket is already over.i dont like to watch cricket anymore.

Posted by dailycric on (March 9, 2012, 8:16 GMT)

thank you, sambit, for this piece.

and thank you, rahul, for the last 15 and a half years.

i was at lord's on june 25, 1996, when you edged that straight one from chris lewis behind, 5 agonizing runs short of a 100. and since then, for a decade and a half, you have made it worthwhile for me to watch cricket. but even more. you have touched my life.

you will receive many media accolades in the days to come. but i hope that what will count most is the fact that, this day, there are people who have shed a tear at the fact that you will not be batting in a test match again.

for you have done what only great people achieve. you have given happiness to others.

thank you.

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Sambit BalClose
Sambit Bal Editor-in-chief Sambit Bal took to journalism at the age of 19 after realising that he wasn't fit for anything else, and to cricket journalism 14 years later when it dawned on him that it provided the perfect excuse to watch cricket in the office. Among other things he has bowled legspin, occasionally landing the ball in front of the batsman; laid out the comics page of a newspaper; covered crime, urban development and politics; and edited Gentleman, a monthly features magazine. He joined Wisden in 2001 and edited Wisden Asia Cricket and Cricinfo Magazine. He still spends his spare time watching cricket.

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