Master craftsman

Master craftsman

The on-field repercussions of Rahul Dravid’s retirement from international cricket will not be felt for a few more months, with India not scheduled to play a Test match until at least July. Already, however, the knowledge that the Mr Dependable of Indian cricket will not bat again for the country is a frightening thought, especially at a time when the national team is at its lowest ebb after losing eight Tests on the bounce away from home. Needless to say, Father Time does not make any exceptions, and especially over the last few months, it was always a question of when rather than whether Dravid would bring the curtains down on what by any stretch of the imagination has been an outstanding run at the highest level. At 39, with very little left to achieve for the second highest run-scorer in Test history, Dravid decided this was as good a time as any to bow out, with more people asking why rather than why not.

Dravid’s contributions can’t be measured by sheer numbers, impressive as they are. More than 24,000 international runs, 48 hundreds and 406 catches are outstanding stats, but there has always been more to Dravid. He has been the rock of the Indian batting line-up for over a decade and a half, earmarked very early in his international career as the man that would provide the calming influence and allow the extolled stroke-makers to do their bit. For a long while in the early 2000s, Dravid’s was the scalp most coveted by the opposition, even more than Sachin Tendulkar’s, because he was quite the master of wearing attacks down with his inexhaustible patience and a wonderful technique.

That he fused his innate competitiveness with a sense of fair play and deep integrity made him the ideal role model for youngsters desperate to ape their heroes in a cricket-mad country. Dignity, decency and decorum are words that have been associated with Dravid from the time he made his debut in 1996. Even under extreme provocation in the searing cauldron of international cricket, Dravid seldom lost his cool. As he matured as a cricketer, he was happy to share his knowledge and experiences with starry-eyed youngsters not only from within the country, but from outside as well. It isn’t just Indian cricket that will be poorer without Rahul Dravid. The world of cricket will miss a selfless human being, a true gentleman and a master craftsman. Go well, Rahul!

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