Friday, 1 June 2012

RAHUL DRAVID - THE COMPLETE MAN

I had penned my musings down on the night before Rahul Dravid formally announced his retirement from all forms of International cricket. For some reason or other, I had not posted them here.  Here they are now.

RAHUL DRAVID - THE COMPLETE MAN


Ever wonder how it has always been the fruit and flowers who get all the attention, and not the roots of the tree that quietly go about doing their job of being the life-support system of it ? Who ever gives a thought to the steel and concrete that went into the  foundation when one is busy marveling at the towering elevation and the fa├žade of a sky-scrapper? If only they could speak, the tree and the sky-scrapper would be the first to thank their benefactors.

How often does it happen that a great personality decides to call it a day and the news evokes emotions bordering on grief that is normally associated with someone’s death ? Very seldom indeed,  because most of us relate only to the public persona that had been on display for a reasonable length of time, spanning a spectacularly successful career, be it in the field of  showbiz, sport, Art , Music, Politics or any other field that inherently thrives on mass following. A day full of accolades and thanks, and then the  celebrity moves on with his/her life just as the fans move on with theirs.

With Dravid’s retirement, though, the emotions seem a touch more real than this customary and stereotypical reaction when a hero walks out into the sunset.  The eulogies are coming thick and fast from the fans, the media, and the team-mates and opponents alike.    

A great man hung up his boots yesterday, and even the great Sachin Tendulkar had to admit he owed nothing less than a third of his test hundreds to the partnerships he had with the man at the other end. Take a bow Rahul Dravid.

A man as tough as nails when out in the middle and as serenely calm and articulate as a sage when off the field, Rahul Dravid’s place in history is as hard-earned and as well-deserved as that of any of the greats of the game. Its only in a team sport that the greatness of a player is measured not only in terms of his individual skills , but also in terms of what he brings to the table as a team-man. And this is where even the most ardent of Sachins fans would not begrudge Rahul  the highest rank possible.

The celebration  of his glorious career spanning over almost two decades would be terribly lopsided if we addressed to only one of its two dimensions , i.e. Rahul the batsman, and Rahul the person. While the Tendulkars, Gangulys and Laxmans , and Sehwags enthralled the cricket-lovers with their sheer artistry, and charisma , Rahul chose to quietly be the rock around which perhaps the greatest era of Indian batting revolved. A technician par excellence, the man all the strokes straight out of the coaching manual, and he could play them all with great aplomb, but like a shrewd banker he always chose to invest them in long term ventures even if it meant shutting out some tantalizingly lucrative short term deals, and the beneficiary turned out to be the Indian team, always.

Never again will we see him striding purposefully out in the middle for the rescue act that he had made all his own.

Never again will the bowlers the world over, run into the wall that had a grim, determined look in its eyes.

Never again will we see those jaw-muscles clench in steely resolve, and that calmness   which came  from “  fire in belly and  ice on mind”.

Never again will we hear that loud and extremely masculine bellow of ‘NONONONO’ aimed at the non-striker.

Never again will those beautiful hands pluck catches out of thin air in the slips and make it all look so nonchalantly cool. He had once said he rued forever, every catch that he dropped than every ton he missed.

Never again will the grounds the world over be drenched in the sweat that poured in bucketfuls from his body, for he always seemed to battle more than he batted.

Never again will the  gentleman’s game be played as it should be played. Because, with Rahul Dravid’s batch of cricketers fading away from the scene, the current crop doesn’t look too keen to put their stock in the sporting spirit either.

And never again will we feel that hope we felt when the scoreboard read 11/3.

Rahul Dravid was the greatest model the Raymonds commercial never had for "The Complete Man”