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'I can't recall beating him more than one ball in a row'

Dravid's key talent as a batsman was his ability to wear bowlers down, grinding out long innings, waiting to capitalise on mistakes

Jason Gillespie (as told to Nagraj Gollapudi)

March 9, 2012

Comments: 18 | Text size: A | A

Rahul Dravid trapped lbw by Jason Gillespie, 4th Test, Sydney, 1st day, January 2, 2004
Gillespie: "Essentially, he was more patient than us" Daniel Berehulak / © Getty Images
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The game of cricket is the battle between bat and ball. It is about who loses patience first; that determines the winner. Rahul Dravid was the master at staying patient for long, long periods of time. He won the battles more often.

Good bowlers are able to put pressure on a batsman, no matter how good, and draw him out of his comfort zone. How tough was Dravid? Dravid was so patient, he made you bowl to him. Because he did not give his wicket away easily, you had to be incredibly disciplined against him in line and length to get the better of him. That was easier said than done. It is easy to assume, like many other fast bowlers might have done, that you could settle into one line against Dravid, as opposed to someone like Sehwag, who can easily distract you with his penchant for strokes. But Dravid, being a very disciplined player, was never easy to lure. He had a set way of playing; he would always wait for a bowler to make a mistake, unlike Sehwag, who tries to take it to the bowler. So he complemented the more aggressive batsmen in the Indian batting line-up perfectly. He brought stability to their batting order, which was full of stroke-makers like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly.

He was a rock-solid player, someone who valued his wicket, someone against whom you knew you were in for a real hard task to knock him over. He could judge whether to play or leave the ball, especially early in his innings. He knew where his off stump was; that is an important asset to have for a top-order batsman.

Dravid always had a simple game plan and he stuck to it. It comes back to patience: he had the patience to grind out long innings and wait for the right ball to hit. He had his specific shots that he wanted to play, and he would wait for the bowler to pitch in the area where he was comfortable playing an attacking shot. That made him very difficult to get out.

The two best examples of how we lost the battle of wearing him down came in 2001 in Kolkata and 2003 in Adelaide. Both were good batting pitches. Our plan on both occasions was to be patient ourselves and stick to good bowling areas. Certainly in Adelaide there was good bounce and carry, and we thought that if we stuck to our plans we could get anyone out. But the way Dravid played, essentially he was more patient than us bowlers. We became impatient, especially when he scored that double-century, because we could not get him out, and that made us go away from our game plan. That in turn worked for him because his plan was to wait for the bowler to lose his patience.

 
 
Many might call him a defensive batsman in the mould of a Jacques Kallis or a Michael Atherton, but Dravid ranks up there with the great batsmen of the game. To simply refer to him as a defensive player is selling him short as a batsman
 

Some might say our bowling attack in Adelaide was not as strong as the one in Kolkata, but I was leading a very good bowling attack and we believed we could dominate the Indians. However, at the end of the day we were just not good enough against Dravid. It was good old-fashioned hard work, which he put in successfully and we did not.

I cannot recall beating Dravid more than one ball in a row. I remember in Adelaide, in the first innings, at one point I decided to have a real go at him and bowl a few short deliveries. He was ducking them pretty comfortably, and then suddenly he played a hook shot. It was a sort of top edge, it went for a six, and he got to his first hundred. I was pretty devastated. That was an example of when I decided to move away from my game plan and he was well settled at the crease and took me on confidently.

In 2001 when we went to India, we started off nicely in Mumbai by winning the Test comfortably. In Kolkata, having forced them to follow on, we felt we had won the game, having picked up early wickets during their second innings. Dravid and Laxman together, we knew they were very good players, but we thought if we kept at them, they wouldn't be able to deal with the pressure. But they counterattacked perfectly. I remember Dravid just playing in the V with a very straight bat and providing wonderful support to Laxman. It was a wonderful piece of batting from both players and we could not dislodge them.

At the end of that fourth day when we returned to the dressing room with Dravid and Laxman unbeaten, we were like, "Wow, what just happened?" We were a little stunned and very disappointed. We knew we were just one ball away from getting one of their wickets, but we couldn't produce that one ball. We knew these guys had done something special and we had to respect their performance.

We all learn. On that 2001 trip, our fast bowlers' plan was to bowl in the channel outside the off stump, get the Indian batsmen playing on one side of the wicket, and create opportunities that way. But we realised that Indian pitches were a lot flatter and slower and our plan would work only on bouncier tracks. In 2004, when we returned to India, we accounted for that and changed our lines to bowling a lot straighter and looking to hit the stumps every time. That worked, and it was one time that even Dravid was circumspect and vulnerable.

The special thing about Dravid was that when he got a bad ball, he would be waiting for it and he had the ability to put it away. He did not miss those opportunities to score. That is sometimes the difference between a very good player and a great player: the ability to score when you get the chance to score. And that is one of the reasons he averaged mid-50s consistently in Test cricket.

Many might call him a defensive batsman in the mould of a Jacques Kallis or a Michael Atherton, but Dravid ranks up there with the great batsmen of the game. To simply refer to him as a defensive player is selling him short as a batsman. He was a wonderfully gifted player and we all enjoyed the way he played the game.

Jason Gillespie took 43 wickets in ten Tests against India

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by zico123 on (March 12, 2012, 15:54 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 philipm3 on (March 12, 2012, 4:25 GMT)

@mukmum - so the opinion of someone who bowled over after over to the man is not worthwhile? I suppose yours is? Gillespie was a fine bowler, and this piece gives a fine insight to the way Dravid played the game. Bizarre that you should find that offensive. Dravid is one of my favourite players (I live in Australia) and what I always admired most about him - apart from his immaculate technique - was his temperament and his utterly gentlemanly approach to the game. Shameful that you use exactly the opposite approach to defend him. Thanks Rahul for the fantastic entertainment and inspiration you have provided down the years - happy retirement!

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 mukmum on (March 11, 2012, 6:26 GMT)

dravid doesn't need ordinary bowlers to comment on him.he was one of the best players of all time and jason gillespie need not testify that .

Posted by Nerk on (March 11, 2012, 5:32 GMT)

Dravid is one of the greatest team players. His ability to put the good of the team above his own was his greatest virtue. He was perfect foil for the flair of Tendulkar and the grace of Laxman. Quite simply, he was an outstanding player and one of India's greatest.

Posted by siabbasi on (March 11, 2012, 3:02 GMT)

Dravid - over the years when I hear name Rahul Dravid, few things strike my mind, super class, unbeatable, pure batsmen & above all patience & temperament. As a Cricket fan - I am sure - he is on many peoples fav batsman or cricketer list. All the best sir for future!

Posted by mohitgoswami55 on (March 10, 2012, 19:00 GMT)

gr8 words for gr8 man.......

Posted by insightfulcricketer on (March 10, 2012, 15:59 GMT)

A wonderful tribute.However I want to correct Dizzy on the reason Aussie one in 2004 by one test and in my opinion series would have been drawn if rain had not washed out the last day in Chennai. Anyhow the real reason was Aussies took away the boundaries by keeping deep cover and deep square leg from almost the get go and built the inside out fields. That worked on Indian batsmen patience and they could not come with a counter strategy of their own. By the time Aussies returned in 2008 they were prepared for that and results are known.

Posted by lvlr_Ravi on (March 10, 2012, 13:50 GMT)

Great Tribute to a Great Man!!! But m really amazed not to hear a single sentence from the Indian Captain, MS Dhoni . I hope everything is well in the team.

Posted by Daran9 on (March 10, 2012, 10:47 GMT)

As a SL fan I would like say, I can not recall many gentleman cricketers from India. Ravi Shastri, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble could be some more. But for me Rahul Dravid is the best of all. Cool as cucumber on and off the field who played the game with the right spirit. Rahul you are. Gentleman!

Posted by ats78 on (March 10, 2012, 7:22 GMT)

Great Article. Wonderful tribute to the WALL. Even better to come from an Aussie and also great to see the comments from m3in from Pakistan. This is what cricket is all about and we were really lucky to watch and witness one of the best in business MR Rahul Dravid. Amazing Cricketer and even better human being. All the best and thank you very much .

Posted by Ribs on (March 10, 2012, 3:15 GMT)

As an Indian I always feel that we are lucky to had player like Mr.Dravid. I always rate him better than any other Indian cricketer. His contribution in the overseas really awesome. As Gillespie mentioned in his arcticle he played with lot of composure and temperment which most of the indian players lacking. Sure his absence will create a void in the batting line up atleast for the no 3 slot. How many times Dravid faced the delivery before the runner end batsman faced his first delivery. Between 2001-2006 he battled 100 overs in the field as a wkt keeper and top order batsman in one dayers. He always made him available as per the team requirement. Like Ivan Lendl in tennis he was a hard working cricketer who improved himself throughout his carrier. Still he can offer lot to the Indian as an advicer. I don't know how far BCCI can use his services. He can produce bundle of cricketers they can Indian cricket forward. Good bye to my true hero in Indian cricket ever we produced.

Posted by m3in_h00n_k0un on (March 10, 2012, 0:17 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 We_Rock on (March 9, 2012, 22:18 GMT)

Salute to Dravid for his tremendous contribution to Indian Cricket. He is a true Legend and a great man..Great for his understanding of Cricket and its challenges. He gave his services in the form of a Player, Captain a wicket keeper and a teammate to all in the dressing room. Never say die attitude man, who fought with all the spirit and lived cricket. These days youngsters are quite passionate about cricket but don't highly value their inclusion in the team and get content very easily. IPL is a great platform, unlike Indian Domestic cricket, as it gives a chance to play with and against international players of other countries and Moolah they get is a bonus. Dravid always valued his inclusion and was very competitive. Hats off the the Wall again. We will miss you Dravid always. You must become a coach of Indian cricket one day.

Posted by miraclez on (March 9, 2012, 18:34 GMT)

End of an era ! a truly great batsman of all time at number 3 position in all pitches and all cirucumstances, indeed greater than likes of sachin, ponting and all other batsmen of his era !!! Thanks for your batting Rahul, we truly love the manner you have batted all these years, thank you sir indeed !!!

Posted by AjaySridharan on (March 9, 2012, 15:30 GMT)

Nice one Jason. Good to hear an opposition bowler sing praises. Got to love the Aussie attitude towards competitiveness

Posted by rdharani on (March 9, 2012, 12:03 GMT)

Nice one Dizzy..! A bowler's view on Rahul. Yes, none could beat him more than one ball in a row. You would have enjoyed it even more, if had played along side you (in Australian team).

Posted by Percy_Fender on (March 9, 2012, 11:27 GMT)

A wonderful tribute from a great bowler about one of the greatest batsmen of all time.Having seen their duels be it in Calcutta or in Adelaide that Gillespie talks about I can say that there was no let us in the intensity of the bowling. And that is what the real value of a Dravid was. I wish he would take over as India's batting coach for the moment because of his work ethic and intelligence. That is till he is ready for the selector's cap. He could be a great selector unlike some other greats who have a parochial streak. Rahul with his family background, schooling and above all, an all round sports loving mindset, there will be no regional prejudices.Even if he loves Bangalore,one can rest assured that he is not going to favour anyone from Karnataka just because of his domicile. He is cast in the true Holkar tradition of the Hazares,the Gaekwads and the Nimbalkars even if he is a true blue Bangalore boy.That is the pedigree Indian cricket needs at this moment. A salute to a legend.

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