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Rahul Dravid exhibited selflessness in heights unscaled by any other Indian batsman

By Harsh Thakor* 

On January 11th maestro Rahul Dravid turned 50.
No Indian batsmen were ever more of an embodiment of temperament or grit.as Rahul Dravid. Dravid was the best ambassador of sportsmanship in cricket in his day and age.
In his time no Asian batsmen did what the doctor ordered, to the extent of Dravid. Dravid was manifestation of single-mindedess, tenacity and selflessness in sport. One hardly has an adjective to the ice coolness and craft Dravid exhibited in adjusting to the given situation. Rarely did any batsmen exhibit such a clinical o methodical approach to batting.
No batsmen looked more than farmer digging in a desert or an artisan deploying his chisels. In his best knocks Dravid resembled a surgeon performing a successful operation on a patient considered incurable. It was a sheer spectacle witnessing Dravid at the crease, looked a cocoon in concentration like a monk meditating. or a sculptor using his chisels.
Above all he uplifted cricket as gentleman’s game and gave memories of the grace of the golden era. Dravid was the best ambassador of sportsmanship in cricket in his day and age He hardly exhibited touches of arrogance or displayed unruly behaviour on the field, which is a routine feature today in the cricketing world. Also a very shrewd judge of the game.

Technique

Technically he was reminiscent of an architect or an English grammar professor with a perfect stance water tight defence and mastery in leaving or negotiating the outgoing ball.
However staggering figures he accumulated, what was more noteworthy was how he sculpted his innings like mason laying bricks and was the ultimate manifestation of batting revolving around a specific science.
Orthodox style and chiselled stokes were a characteristic of his batting modelled on the Vijay Merchant Cricket School. In his day no one held a bat straighter.
His execution of the cover drive was perfection personified.
There was also a subtle element of wristwork in his batting and shades of improvisation, giving touches of Vishwanath . In many ways his batting was like a medley of Gavaskar and Vishwanath. Dravid was a much more polished or cultivated version of Javed Miandad or Inzamam Ul Haq when batting.
Whatever his great capacity for restraint he never let bad ball go unpunished. Even if he grinded in the middle, his batting was never boring.
In steering a team through a crisis Dravid was the best Indian batsmen ever , arguably best Asian batsmen ever and close to the best ever in the world in a crisis. To ressurect a side from the grave Dravid eclipsed Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar and was arguably the best ever Asian batsmen on bad wickets. In manoeuvring or shaping an innings in accordance with the given situation, Dravid had no equal amongst Indian batsmen. In conditions when the best of batsmen could look all at sea, Dravid would come out on top with a gem. In his day apart from Steve Waugh no batsmen matched Dravid’s mental resilience. He did not posess the flamboyance of Tendulkar or Ponting,or the artistry of Lara or Laxman ,but he surpassed them all in batting for your life,in which he scripted many an essay.

Birth of Career

Dravid gave the first blemishes of his cricketing talent playing for under 15 and Under 19 BCCI teams and later flowered in Ranji trophy cricket. He continued the trail of stalwarts like Gundappa Vishwanath and Brijesh Patel.IN 1995-96 Ranji trohy he averaged 57.5, scoring 460 runs and 3 centuries. Earlier in 1990-91 he headed the first class averages at 63.33 and in subsequent seasons averaged 60.90 scoring670 runs, 52,87 scoring 846 runs, and 59.33 scoring 1068 runs.
Dravid made a most promising debut in test cricket in England batting at no 6 registering 95 at Lords and subsequently 84 at Edgbaston. In his next series in South Africa he proved hi s great prowess at one down, when executing a classical 148 and 81 in the final test.
He did not possess the flamboyance of Tendukar or Ponting,or the artistry of Lara or Laxman, but he surpassed them all in batting for your life.
I feel no Indian batsman was ever as selfless, putting his team's cause above his personal gain. Unlike Gavaskar and Tendulkar, he was never in pursuit of records.
Sad that in his day whatever his phenomenal achievements he was unable to knit India into a powerful nucleus and combat individualism in cricket, with personality clashes a regular feature.
Playing role of s a coach today he has been trapped in the quagmire of politics and not able to revive Indian cricket to it’s feet. Regrettable that after his retirement he could not intervene or take the cudgels to eradicate the corruption in Indian cricket politics and was forced to sing to the tune of the adverse effects of globalisation on the game i.e, flourishing of Indian Peoples League.

Highlights of Rahul Dravid’s Career

No batsmen faced more deliveries in test cricket, illustrating that Dravid was the ultimate boulder. In 286 Test innings, Dravid played 31,258 balls. Given that no other batsman has faced more than 29,000 deliveries, it illustrates the sheer single-mindedness or dedication that was invested scoring those 13,288 runs.
Whether on pitch of uneven bounce at Kingston, seaming condition so green to at Leeds, a bouncy strip at Adelaide or Johannesburg or a turning track in India, Dravid adapted himself to perfection and was equally at home.. His 180 at Kolkata in a 376 run partnership with VVS Laxman , 233 at Adelaide in 2003-04 in a 303 run partnership with Laxman ,148 at Johannesburg in 1997, 148 at Leeds in 2002, 81 and 68 at Kingston in 2006, 270 at Rawalpindi in 2004,146 at Oval in 2011.were all examples of supreme craftsmanship. When scoring 148 at Headingly in 2002, technically he overshadowed Tendulkar,who scored 183.
When making his highest score of 270 at Rawalpandi he batted for 740 minutes, breaking Sunil Gavaskar’s record in Bangalore in 1981-82 against England, for innings of longest duration.
Overall Dravid averages 4 runs more than Tendulkar in matches won.Tendulkar averaged 61.93 against Dravid’s 65.78.
For most of his career, Dravid was epitome of consistency In his first ten series that he played in (excluding one-off Tests), he averaged more than 40 in seven of them. His best phase, though, was the four-year period from the middle of 2002 to 2006, a period when in 16 during this period, 13 times he averaged more than 49, and nine times over 75. More importantly, he amassed those scores in in gruelling batting conditions, and in overseas Tests that led to wins abroad,. During this period, his overseas average was an exceptional 77.07.
From a period of 2003-2006 he was arguably the best batsman in the world, and a better test player than even Tendulkar or Lara. In this period Dravid’s average overtook that of Tendulkar hovering around 58. In that period he amassed 4720 runs at an average of 68.4 and scored 14 centuries. His overseas average in that period towered above 66 and half of his centuries were in winning causes. For sheer consistency in that period he traversed zones even Tendulkar or Viv Richards did not. In a space of 15 tests in 2002-04 Dravid scored 4 double centuries in 15 tests. Two of those double hundreds contributed to wining causes in Adelaide and Rawalpandi.Dravid’s overseas average climbed to above 66, the 4th best ever in test history.
Dravid had phenomenal aggregate run s and average in 2003-04 in Australia scoring 619 runs at 123.80 average and in England scoring 602 runs at 100.22 average in 2002.
He had a period of loss of form from 2007-2010 but then stage a remarkable resurrection in the 2011series, championing a losing cause, scoring 461 runs at average of 76.83, with 3 centuries.
Few batsmen were ever even his equal in partnerships. He and VVS Laxman constituted the best middle order partners or partnerships of his era. No 2 partners ever ressurected a team from the dark woods to the pinnacle of glory, as this pair did at Kolkata in 2002 and Adelaide in 2003-04. They literally scripted essays. Dravid has also been involved in more century stands than any other batsman: he finishes at 88, with two other current players about whom there has been plenty of retirement talk - Tendulkar and Ponting - on 85 each. Dravid is also the only batsman to have ten or more century stands with four others. No Indian batsmen provided such support for partners to blossom like Dravid.
At one down he scored 10524 runs, more test runs than any batsmen, eclipsing even Ricky Ponting. No batsmen at one down equalled Dravid when the chips were down.
Rahul Dravid played an important role in India winning it’s first ever series in Pakistan in 2004 ,India winning its first series in West Indies for 35 years in 2006 and breaking Australia’s monopoly ot stranglehold with its unbroken run of wins in 2001 and 2003-04.
No Indian batting great has contributed as much as Dravid in Indian cricket climbing period of ascendancy.
Dravid finished his test career scoring 36 centuries, 13288 runs at an average of 52.31 in 164 test matches and 286 innings. In test matches won he averaged 65.78 and scored 5131 runs. Overseas he scored 7690 runs at an average of 53.03 and 21 centuries. Dravid also excelled in ODI cricket, being the most prolific batsmen of the 1999 cricket world cup, and scoring many a match winning cameo. Dravid is the only batsmen to have been involved in 2 300 run partnerships in ODI’s. In ODI’s he amassed 10889 runs at an average of 39. Scoring 12 centuries.

Dravid’s place amongst the cricketing greats

In steering a team through a crisis Dravid was the best Indian batsmen ever , arguably best Asian batsmen ever and close to the best ever in the world in a crisis. To ressurect a side from the grave Dravid eclipsed Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar and was arguably the best ever Asian batsmen on bad wickets. In manoeuvring or shaping an innings in accordance with the given situation, Dravid had no equal amongst Indian batsmen. In conditions when the best of batsmen could look all at sea, Dravid would come out on top with a gem. In his day apart from Steve Waugh no batsmen matched Dravid’s mental resilience. He did not posess the flamboyance of Tendulkar or Ponting,or the artistry of Lara or Laxman ,but he surpassed them all in batting for your life,in which he scripted many an essay.
In my view Dravid in test matches, played more innings in tune to a given situation, than even Gavaskar, Tendulkar or Virat Kohli. In knitting the fabric of an innings or shaping the course of match he overshadowed all 3 stalwarts.
Rahul Dravid played an important role in India winning it’s first ever series in Pakistan in 2004 ,India winning its first series in West Indies for 35 years in 2006 and breaking Australia’s monopoly ot stranglehold with its unbroken run of wins in 2001 and 2003-04.
No Indian batting great has contributed as much as Dravid in Indian cricket climbing period of ascendancy.
In my view Dravid has been underestimated by cricket writers who fail to rank him amongst the best 50 cricketers ever Cristopher Martin Jenkins rates Dravid at 74th place amongst the 100 best cricketers of all time behind even Graham Gooch, David Gower and Geoff Boycott., which is a travesty. Nor does Gower choose him in his best 50 cricketers of all .I rate Dravid only a whisker behind Tendulkar and Gavaskar in test cricket ,on par with Alan Border or Ricky Ponting.in test cricket and possibly a better test batsmen than Javed Miandad. Cristopher Martin Jenkins places him below even David Gower which is a travesty. Geoff Armstrong treats Dravid more fairly placing him at 59th place above Boycott and a whisker below Javed Miandad.
Without doubt he has carved a permanent niche amongst the all-time greats. To me he is just a notch below the likes of Bradman, Sobers Viv, Lara, Tendulkar, Hobbs,Hammond, and in the bracket of a Greg Chappell ,Everton Weekes or Ricky Ponting. I would club Dravid amongst the best ever in batting for your life like Alan Border,Javed Miandad,Steve Waugh and Jacques Kallis.
At one down Dravid was only behind Bradman,Viv Richards and neck to neck with Ricky Ponting. To me Dravid ranks amongst the 15 best test batsmen ever.
Fascinatingly in a Wisden survey conducted in 2020 ,52% of fans chose Rahul Dravid as India’s best test match batsmen ever.
In my view Dravid in test matches, played more innings in tune to a given situation, than even Gavaskar ,Tendulkar or Virat Kohli. In knitting the fabric of an innings or shaping the course of match he overshadowed all 3 stalwarts.
Rahul Dravid played an important role in India winning it’s first ever series in Pakistan in 2004 ,India winning its first series in West Indies for 35 years in 2006 and breaking Australia’s monopoly ot stranglehold with its unbroken run of wins in 2001 and 2003-04.
No Indian batting great has contributed as much as Dravid in Indian cricket climbing period of ascendancy.
Dravid's main drawback was that he was not so prolific against South Africa or Australia where overall he averaged under 45 and overseas under 40. Pertinent that the bulk of his runs overseas and in winning causes were against England, West Indies and Zimbabwe.
He also lacked the 'X' factor or flamboyance in converting games to winning causes like Viv Richards, Walter Hammond, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara or Ricky Ponting.
Against blistering pace he was not as adept as did not have equal mastery in countering the bouncing delivery like Ricky Ponting,Mohinder Amarnath or Ian Chappell.
I rate Tendulkar, Gavaskar or Border a whisker ahead of Dravid because of scores against best pace attacks of their day and because they championed causes of weak teams.
Dravid shone when Indian team was at a helm, in terms of balance or strength.
In his day whatever his phenomenal achievements he was unable to knit India into a powerful nucleus and combat individualism in cricket, with personality clashes a regular feature. Sadly as a coach today he has been trapped in the quagmire of politics and not able to revive Indian cricket o it’s feet. Regrettable that after his retirement he could not intervene or take the cudgels to eradicate the corruption in Indian cricket politics and was forced to sing to the tune of the adverse effects of globalisation on the game.i.e,flourishing of Indian Peoples League.
---
Harsh Thakor is a Freelance Journalist who has undertaken deep research on Cricket history

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