Time has come to say Thank You! and Good Bye to one of the most remarkable, yet the least celebrated sportsman in modern era Cricket. Rahul Dravid, the Wall, as they call him, has left the field. He led, he followed, he kept the wickets both from the front and behind the stumps, and most importantly, he held the spirits of what because of people like him we say, the Gentleman’s Game, higher than anyone. What is it that he didn’t do for his team? After nearly 17 long years of service, when Dravid said its over, what remains is a legacy that can never ever be repeated. His was one career the cricketing world was most cruel to, he never got the attention and appreciation that he deserved. Wherever and whenever he delivered, there was someone who came in and stole the limelight. Right from his Test debut where his 95 got eclipsed by the heroics of fellow debutant and centurion Saurav Ganguly, he had to live with it till the end. He was not a master like Sachin, he didn’t display the fighting spirit as Ganguly, he didn’t possess crackers like Sehwag did, and his batting was not as artistic as Laxman’s. Yet, he never complained. With his rock-solid technique, and hard-working mind, he showed up in the office day after day, raised the willow and faced all sorts of oppositions all over the world. There is no count on the number of times he performed the rescue act for the team from misery (remember Kolkata, 2001 ?), or the number of occasions he played second fiddle to match-winning partnerships.
Critics said he scored slowly, was boring, and hence, a misfit for ODI. Well, think again. With nearly 11,000 runs at an average of 39 and with a strike rate of 71 in ODIs, he provided enough answers to prove them wrong. The longest streak for the most number of consecutive innings without a duck (120), top scorer in 1999 World Cup, one half of the highest partnership for any wicket in ODI (331) with Sachin, a full-time successful wicket-keeper during 2003 World Cup, the list goes on.
His Test career was even more mighty. Starting with the debut innings of 95 in Lord’s, he grew in reputation as Mr.Dependable. There was always a hope when he was at the crease. With a total of 36 hundreds, he was the first one to score a hundred against all the Test playing nations. And after so much of cricket, he finishes as the second highest run-getter in Tests, next to only Sachin, And on this day, as he walks back into history, one can be rest assured that Team India’s future Test campaigns will never be the same, and his missing in the batting-order will be felt more visibly. Its sad that he had to leave after a disappointing away Tour, both for him and the Team, but as he himself said, one’s career should not be judged based on one or two performances. His entire career is in front of us to watch over and over again, and say his, was a legacy that can never be repeated. There was, there is, and there will be, only one Rahul Dravid. Thank You for all the wonderful moments, for all the fighting innings that saved and won us matches, for being true to the game, for being the team man, and for being one of the best Ambassadors the game has ever got. I, as any other cricket fan, feels privileged to have lived to see the Fab Four in Indian cricket, play.