In tough overcast batting conditions against an attack comprising of 1,274 wickets collectively, Shan Masood’s epic 156 against England at Old Trafford was one of the most memorable innings by a visiting opener in recent memory. Although Masood could not carry his bat, his gritty and resilient innings reminded me of my first cricketing hero, the great Indian legend-Rahul Dravid, incidentally the last visiting opener to carry his bat in England at The Oval.
Rahul Dravid, the Wall as he is affectionately known, has been my cricketing hero-my role model for as long as I can remember. My first memory of watching cricket was Dravid’s roar and fist celebration in that famous 2003 Adelaide victory with a trademark square cut to Stuart MacGill after scoring 233 and 72*. Early next year, the 2004 ODI series versus Pakistan sealed my love for cricket and my awe for the dashing wicket-keeper batsman with sunglasses, as his image was in those days.
Before I get into ‘what Rahul Dravid has taught me,’ let us get the stats out of the way.
164 Test Matches and 344 ODIs, 48 international centuries, a 17 year international career, over 10,000 runs in each format, most number of catches in test match cricket, and the most balls played in a Test career to name a few. In England, his record even more stellar-debut 95, twice Man of the Series (with 3 tons each), a Test series win as a captain and on the other end of the spectrum, highest run scorer of the 1999 Cricket World Cup, 92* (63) — man of the match performance in 2007, and even three sixes in a row in his T20 debut, or shall I say, retirement match. Remarkable.
Numbers aside, it was how he carried himself on and off the field that shone through. Whether it was the ability to contribute to victories in tough overseas conditions, the consistency throughout his career, or the adaptability to suit the needs of the team, Dravid was always there. Opening the batting, donning the gloves to accommodate an extra batsman, stepping away for the youngsters in the 2007 T20 World Cup, and even bowling handy off-spin, he was a perfect team player.
Navjot Singh Sidhu summarized it perfectly, “Rahul Dravid is a player who would walk on broken glass if his team asks him to.”
Even in tough phases of his career, examples of perseverance and resilience were aplenty, like his 40-ball stay for a single against Australia. During days of batting collapses, or in the case of the 2011 tour of England- an entire series of collapses, we could depend on him. Grinding opposition bowlers down, building partnerships after partnerships, and staying in the game were his forte. For the highlight reels, his innings may not be the most flamboyant, but probably the most essential. As they say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Off the field, mentoring youngsters in the U-19, India A, or the IPL, delivering the Don Bradman Oration lecture, being an example of Fair Play as Rajasthan Royals’ captain, and avoiding controversies, Dravid’s genuine and graceful demeanor complemented his skills on the ground.
The combination of perseverance and resilience, determination and discipline, as well as humility and team-before-self attitude — that is what Rahul Dravid has taught me.
Challenges will come throughout life, but as long as we have the determination to face and overcome the obstacles, things will be get better. Giving up is not an option, but improving is. We should always strive for excellence without sacrificing morals. Even if we do succeed in achieving our goals once or twice, that is not enough. Being consistent with the process, adapting with time, repeating the good and learning from the bad, that is what matters. In the long run, the results do not matter as much as the journey. Finally, regardless if we are a member of a company, a leadership group, a sports team, or a band, interests of the team always outweigh individual glory.
These lessons can be applied to any aspect of life, not just cricket, and that for me is why Rahul Dravid is my cricketing role model.
I will leave you with some of my favorite quotes on Rahul Dravid:
“If you really want to see aggression, look into Dravid’s eyes” — Matthew Hayden
“The wolf who lived for the pack” — Harsha Bhogle
“If you can’t get along with Dravid, you’re struggling in life” — Brett Lee
Who were your cricketing heroes going up and why? Comment below, subscribe, and share!
Originally published at http://brokencricketdreams.com on August 7, 2020.