Steve Waugh chose an ideal batsman to write the foreword for his autobiography ‘Out of My Comfort Zone.’
In penning an eloquent but honest foreword to the quintessential former Australian skipper, Rahul Dravid had ? in some sense, rightfully ? inherited the baton as the world cricket?s crisis man. In a career that has spanned more than 330 One-Day Internationals, 150 test matches (and counting) over 21,000 international runs (of which over 12,000 have come in test cricket) and a generous measure of grit, courage, and quintessential team-man-ship, traits which he stands out for, as much as he does for his trademark cover drive, the ferocious pull and the almost flawless slip-catching, Rahul Dravid remains arguably the greatest batsman Indian test cricket has ever produced.
To dispute Dravid?s status among the Pantheon of Indian greats is to be shortsighted or to get too carried away in the T20 beats which are proverbial of the times we belong to. No doubt Virender Sehwag has revolutionised Indian opening batting, for that matter, world opening batting particularly in tests. No doubt Sachin Tendulkar?s late second-coming has put the issue beyond debate that he is truly the icon he deserves to be if not a cricketing messiah. And Gautam Gambhir is the next best thing that has happened to Indian cricket, perhaps, since Sunil Gavaskar while V.V.S Laxman may as well be a cricketing artiste rather than a batsman as he carves those glorious strokes with his gifted, infamous wrists.
Yet with them and beyond them, Dravid has batted and batted and batted and batted…relentlessly.?taking us to victories after victories, saving us as many precious matches and carried on with determination and stoicism to a point where nobody can deny him the recognition that this Mr. Elegant from Bangalore city indisputably deserves.
That his name is still always mentioned a breath behind the rest has not hurt the man nor made him bitter; if anything, it has spurred him onto perform even better and go about his business quietly, efficiently and effectively ? something that makes the St. Josephite from Bangalore a fine work ethic model in any sphere of activity.
At 38, Dravid is still going strong at least in the toughest version of the game ? test match cricket if his recent impressive performances of late are any indication. Along the way, he has picked up laurels both cricketing and others ? from the Inaugural Wisden Cricketer of the Year award to the Padma Shri. That he has been insultingly treated in the limited overs 50-50 version is again not something Dravid would want to talk loudly about. His position in the Indian test team remains invaluable. The day this Indian middle-order?s stalwart hangs up his boots, a certain vacuum would definitely be left behind and Indian cricket fans round the world would surely feel like they have lost a bit of their religion. For in an era of gentleman cricketers represented by the likes of Anil Kumble, V.V.S Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid himself, the ?Wall? still stands out like a beacon not just for his off-field reputation, but as much for his on-field classics leaving behind in his wake a plethora of inspiration, and something ranging between sincere love and awe for the cricketer as well as the person…