An article I wrote on Thursday after the news of Dravid's retirement first surfaced.
Rahul Dravid aged 39 has summoned the press tomorrow and is likely to announce his retirement from International cricket bringing to end one of India's most illustrious sports career, leaving behind a legacy worth remembering for generations and a void in the Indian team and the sport that would be hard to fill.
I am not here to eulogize Dravid but rather present him for the simple man that he is and probably that does best as Dravid himself - a man who personifies modesty would like nothing better. On a fateful June day at Lord's in 1996 under overcast conditions, a debutant scored a fluent 95 and since then has established himself as one of the greatest players in the modern day cricket and probably India's most accomplished player in the last decade with over 13,000 test runs and 36 centuries, second only to the little master from Mumbai. He also holds the record for most catches in test cricket.
Rahul Dravid in my opinion is a misfit in the modern day arena and belongs to another era of cricketers all together. However that little made any difference as Dravid with his traditional approach to the game still managed to hold centre stag. His technical poise, immense powers of concentration and patience and his impeccable judgement in the corridor won him the name 'The Wall' and has for long remained as India's most consistent performer with the bat, standing tall as others fell around him. In an era where India boasted big names such as Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid often found himself in their shadows and his contributions not fully recognized. Maybe this went well with Dravid who prefers to keep to himself and shy away from the spot light, but begs the question just how big a name and influence Dravid alone would have had on Indian cricket had he not lived in the shadows of his great fellow team-mates.
With Dravid's retirement, it would be the end of the 'classical test batsmen'. Last one of his kind, Dravid will be most remembered for spending long hours in the middle, under the toiling sun, facing a barrage of bowling attack and slowly but steadily grinding them to death. His technique and judgement around the corridor was impeccable and that is probably one of the reasons he remains as one of India's more successful overseas batsmen. His ability to bat in difficult circumstances and over a prolonged period of time, complimenting well the Indian middle order filled with stroke makers in the likes of Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman won India many matches. His innings in Eden Gardens in 2001 against the Australians is probably one of the best examples of this. Dravid's role in the vital first drop is something that will be hard to fill in by another. Dravid's very presence in the middle brought relief not just to the dressing room but also to countless hearts and finding a person who'll be able to do that will be very difficult if not impossible.
Though not a natural stroke maker like many of his colleagues, or blessed by the Gods by extraordinary talent, Dravid's entire accomplishment and career speak loud of commitment, hard work and humility.
He'll be remembered as a complete team man and someone who always put the team above everything - even himself. A person who truly loved the game, he did his best to be a good ambassador of the game and a role model and I can't think of anyone in modern sports who not only served the game but also served keeping with the gentleman's spirit that the game is founded on.
The sight of a fast bowler steaming in and delivering the ball, Dravid rocking back, transferring his weight onto his back foot, and presenting his willow straight at the ball and pushing it hard into the ground is something that no longer be seen on the ground or the television and will remain as a burning image of 'the wall'.
I'll definitely miss him and consider one of my greatest privilege as having met the man not once but twice. So here's to a champion and a hero of the game and hope that retirement treats him well, as he gets time to sit back on his sofa, sipping lemonade on a hot summer day and watch the rewards of his work when the Indian team next take field.