Not every cricketer is respected, some gather records, get rich, but are what many would call hollow. But Rahul Dravid blazed a trail most would like to follow.
For most of his playing life, the focus was on the bat and the technique. But as Rahul Dravid turns a year older on January 11, 2021, let us go behind “The Wall” to understand why he’s so respected and what might we learn from India’s most successful bat at #3.
Once, around the time of his retirement Rahul Dravid was asked to speak about patience and he exclaimed, “You can take a Chinese bamboo seed and plant it in the ground, water and nurture the seed for an entire year & not even see a single sprout. In fact, you’ll not see a sprout for 5 years. But suddenly, a tiny shoot will spring from the ground. And over the next 6 weeks, the plant can grow as tall as 90 feet. You can literally watch the plant grow.
For 5 full years it was preparing itself for rapid, full growth. Without this root structure, the plant simply couldn’t support itself for its future growth. Some would say the plant grew 90 feet in 6 weeks, I would say it grew 90 feet in 5 years & 6 weeks.”
Someone who stayed put for over 31,258 deliveries in Test cricket alone, Rahul Dravid was peak patience. Surely- something no Steyn or Bond, Walsh or Ambrose, Shoaib or Murali would’ve enjoyed.
Surely, he was someone whose batting may have bored one too many, something he himself admitted a few times in his career, but then as Ian Chappel once put it, “Team in trouble- whom do you turn to? Rahul Dravid!”
Interestingly, Dravid also emphasized on what one could learn from failure.
To this date, he thinks- he failed more times in cricket than he succeeded and considers himself quite qualified to talk about failure.
Humility? Another lesson we learn from Mr. Dependable?
He bid farewell to his twenty-two year journey saying “I failed at times but never stopped trying. That is why I leave with sadness but also with pride!”
For someone who scored over 24,000 runs and remained ever-humble, one of the biggest life lessons from Rahul Dravid is- let us not forget to wear our failures as a badge of honour.
And that’s the thing about Dravid- isn’t it? He makes sense each time he speaks perhaps also because he chose to speak wisely and thoughtfully.
He looked extremely focused on everything he did whilst on the crease, notching up memorable performances such as the 468 runs on India’s disastrous tour to England (2011) where his team lost all Tests it played.
But, one man kept up the fight and enabled the fan to chin up.
Can we forget that Lord’s ton, or the fact that his average that series was 146?
Does that even occur to those (especially in this age of wham-bam T20 style) for whom Dravid was boring?
Another life lesson from Rahul Dravid could well be his habit of reading books. An articulate man, Dravid was, is the thoughtful man.
Perhaps the meditation he kept doing for years bore him great results.
People have asked Dravid, “Why didn’t you behave like Virat Kohli?” for that Dravid has this beautiful answer – “That’s his personality. That’s what gets best out of Virat. But that’s not what got the best out of me.
I would have been inauthentic to myself if I had tried to put tattoos and behave like Virat. I think being authentic to yourself is very very important.” He is one of the cricketers who never likes to be in the limelight. Keeps himself away from social media & enjoys doing small things like buying groceries to home or by attending kids science fair by standing in queue just like any other parent.
Rahul Dravid said he will work for the Junior team, when BCCI president Anurag requested him to coach Indian Team. Anurag further described this gesture as .
That is the thing about Dravid that he didn’t go for the senior team post, big money and all that jazz; he wanted to work for the junior cricketers and not for the senior team”
After two years, the Indian Team won the U19 World Cup under Dravid’s coaching while producing future stars like Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Nagarkoti. Following India’s win in U19 world cup, Dravid did not like the pay disparity for the coach and the support staff (50 lacks to Dravid and 20 lacks to support staff), He asked BCCI to cut down his incentive.
BCCI agreed to this and awarded 25 lakhs each to all the support staff including coach Dravid. We fans often call him the ‘Diamond of Indian Cricket’. ‘Diamond’ starts with D and ends with D, so does Dravid.
The right-hander quite simpy refused to accept an Honorary doctorate degree given to him by saying that he would like to earn it by researching on the sports field, which I feel truly does justice to Doctorate Degree.
Can we stop accepting rewards unless and until we really deserve them?
Silently moves once his work is done and never craves for attention. Whether people adore him or criticize him, whether people remember him for the things he has done or forget him, he will keep on doing his work just like he did in past 20 odd years.
VVS Laxman remembers his partner of Kolkata’s unbelievable victory – “Rahul has always been the game’s most committed student, ultimate team man, responding to every challenge with complete dedication.
Despite being in a position to say “No”, he not only kept wickets in white-ball cricket, he batted at various positions with utmost diligence.”
Unfortunately people won’t remember these small things. How often has anyone seen Dravid bragging about all those things he did ever so silently, without a sigh of complain?
Some people only remember that he declared when Sachin was on 194 in the Multan Test. Then, one of my friends called Dravid as a selfish cricketer referring to this incident.
Now let the cricket experts reserve the judgement on what happened that day.
The only question, however, that I’d like to raise is:
Why does this even need to be discussed when both Sachin and Dravid still have the same friendship and the same respect for one another even after that incident?
What is exactly being achieved by reverting back to that one decision that, even if is understood to be ‘strange’ or ‘absurd’ resulted in India winning by an inning and 52 runs?
Were Dravid and Sachin not involved in match-winning partnerships?
As a matter of fact, to quote Cricket Country (as on August 2014), “The Dravid-Tendulkar partnership has now aggregated 6520 runs at an average of 50.93, surpassing the 6482 runs by openers Greenidge and Haynes!”
According to Rahul Dravid, there are a billion ways to be successful.
Each one of us have to find our own path & success is being the best you can be.
As a fan, I always thought every youngster should follow Rahul Dravid, especially to learn how not to be afraid of failures.
Cricket God Sachin himself said – “Dravid is a perfect role model for youngsters. He has set a great example for all of us to follow. We are all trying to follow that path.”
Truth be told, we may get another batsman like Dravid.
It really didn’t take us all that long to paint Pujara and Rahane with the same Wall-paint soon after Dravid left the crease for good.
But let’s face facts: it’s difficult to get another human being like Rahul Dravid. The man who gave himself toward a cause and put the team before himself.
The man who proved that you could achieve a lot by remaining silence and by simply, going about one’s job.
This was even as the sport was part of a changing mold; Cricket finding newer forms of expressions and depiction come the IPL and the rise of cricket content through blogs, opinion pieces, tributes, and whatnot.
Through it all, it must be said the gentleman will always be remembered in fans’ heart despite the Wall not leaving much scope for emotional expression.
-with inputs from Dev Tyagi.