Always at the heel of greatness
Let me take you to a summer afternoon in July 1996 at lord’s. There were two young men taking their baby steps into the history of Indian cricketing legends. One was smashing the ball over the covers in the offside without any hint of respect for the bowlers and the arrogance which he would personify the Indian team with during his captaincy later. Sourav Ganguly made an entry into the history books of cricket with a bang by scoring a century at lords.
At the other end was 23 year old lean young man with his school boy looks trying to fight his way into history with a gritty knock of 96. Few experts labelled it as a good knock, some as unlucky to get out on 96 and the remaining others questioned his attitude. Missing out on centuries by getting out in the 90’s became his forte until he eventually overcame it with a nice stylish 148 at Johannesburg to draw the test match avoiding India the humiliation of a 3-0 whitewash. Rahul Dravid had conquered his own leaks to become a wall that would stand firm for India for the next 15 years.
Similar to his knock at lord’s his achievements and gritty test knocks would be overcome by the free flowing stroke playing knocks of Sachin Tendulkar, wrist beauty if VVS Laxman and the style of the Maharaja after he had fought hard with the new ball in the seaming conditions of England or taken the blows in Australia to make the new ball lose it’s ferocity for the others to play their strokes.
His tenacious 145 at headingley in 2002 would be overtaken by the fun filled T20 innings of Sachin and Ganguly later. Another digging out for 180 at Kolkata would be overtaken by a gem of an innnings of 281 by Laxman. His 146 at Taunton in 1999 WC would be forgotten for the 183 by Ganguly. Another century at Adelaide would be overtaken by the double hundred from Tendulkar.
After such lasting partnerships with the likes of the other bug three of the indian partnership, it does not come as a surprise that Dravid was the non-striker batsman for both the triple hundreds of Sehwag. Such can be the influence of The Wall on the strike batsman.Few remember him wicketkeeping in the 2003 WC to balance the team an extra all rounder. Lucky for his sacrifice we reached the finals.
If lady luck has never shone on a sportsperson, Dravid must be their in the top 5 to have deprived him of truer rightful place in the hearts of the followers of crickets or the annals of cricket.
Throughout this time, it has been my privilege to enjoy his batting and fight against all odds to score runs with pleasure anywhere in the world. It has been my privilege to watch you bat Mr. Dravid in a test match for there were will be few if any who could replace him as the best no. 3 batsman I have ever watched play in the modern era of swashbuckling cricket.
Fore the remained The Wall but after tis english tour he must become A Great Wall