15 and counting: The Wall's still strong

15 and counting: The Wall's still strong

It was on June 20, 1996, that the right-hander made his Test debut, against England at Lord’s. On June 20, 2011, Monday’s day one of the first Test against the West Indies at Sabina Park in Kingston, Dravid will enter his 16th year as a Test cricketer and will be playing his 151st Test!

“I am not really aware of it in terms of exact dates but I know it’s been a while since I started playing for India,” Dravid told Deccan Herald before leaving for the Caribbean as he reflected on the longevity milestone. “It’s been a great journey, I have enjoyed it. It’s had its ups and downs. Growing up as a kid, what you dream about is playing one Test match for India. To be able to do that in international cricket for 15 years, I have got a lot to be grateful about.”

It didn’t take Dravid long to establish himself as a permanent and vital cog in the Indian batting wheel. “You never ever want to get complacent or believe that you are here to stay,” the former Indian captain pointed out. “My first tour of England, scoring runs in my first two Test matches, it definitely gave me a lot of confidence. I knew I still had a lot of work to do. But it was nice to start the way I did -- with a 90 and a 80 in my first couple of Tests.

I knew that if I worked hard and kept doing the right things, kept improving, then I could play interrnational cricket for a fair bit of time. But if someone had told me then that I could have played for 15 years, I wouldn’t have believed it!”

Despite an impressive start, Dravid’s first Test hundred was a while coming, though when it did, his 148 against South Africa in Johannesburg had been well worth the wait. “It had been nine Test matches by then and I hadn’t got a hundred,” the Bangalorean reminisced. “I guess you are never satisfied as a young cricketer. Initially, I wanted to play one Test match. After you have played one, you want to get a Test hundred. And after you get one Test hundred, you want to keep establishing yourself and score many more.

“I didn’t exactly feel edgy going into that Test. Till then, I had been batting at five and six, opened in a couple of Tests. I hadn’t got a fixed batting slot. When Sachin asked me if I’d like to bat at three, I jumped at the opportunity. I knew if I made it work, this was a good chance for me to stay in this position. It was nice, in my first crack at it, to get a hundred and not only get a hundred but also know that with a hundred like that, you are going to be given some sort of breathing space at that position and in the team as well.”

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