Come Friday, and Rahul Sharad Dravid will announce his retirement. He has called a press conference that day with N. Srinivasan. And the press will be filled with celebratory articles about his career as it should be. So I decided to put up what I had to say now before there is a deluge of better articles than mine on my laptop screen and lest they cloud my thoughts about him.
I will just post what I wrote about one of his innings when the year started, but never put up on this blog. It was a part of my list of My Moments of 2011.
I have always loved Ganguly. He was the best Indian captain I ever saw. Yes better than Dhoni. I have always loved Laxman. To me , he was the most elegant batsman of all of them. And I have always loved Sachin. Because well, he is Sachin. You do not have an option. But in strict terms, I never loved Dravid. I always respected him. Perhaps more than anybody else in Indian cricket, save Kumble.
But when Dravid walked out to bat again as opener after India were made to follow on by England having already carried his bat for 146 in the first, it should have embarrassed his fellow batsmen. I don’t know about them, but it embarrassed me. I felt ashamed that I have always prioritized love over respect. His coming out again made me realise that people you love can make you happy , even blissful at times but it is people who are worth respecting who make a difference to your lives, even making it possible to exist . And I was better person for the experience.
And when Dravid spoke at the Bradman’s Lecture, he further enhanced that respect. And he brought one thing to notice. Sachin must be having the farthest reaching voice in Indian Cricket. Yet he has never spoken about the underlying malaise in control of cricket in India (read BCCI). He has never been embroiled in any controversy ever, but that in itself is a sign of aloofness, isn’t it?
I do not want to bring Sachin into this post. When Dravid goes out, he alone deserves to have the spotlight. So when paeans are sung about him tomorrow, please chuck out that clichéd term “overshadowed” from your vocabulary. For once, it doesn’t seem right.
He needs to be celebrated for what he was because that is a mighty achievement surpassed by no other cricketer I have seen. Because he has taught me and possibly so many others to value “respect”. Because of all the giants of Indian cricket, he is the only one I can try to emulate in my professional life. Because he is the only one who embodies professional values that go beyond the realms of cricket.
And Thank You, Rahul Dravid for that.