He mostly batted at number 3 for India in test cricket and occasionally at number 5. He opened the batting for India when others were ‘scared’ rather felt inadequate in seaming and bouncy conditions abroad. He kept wickets in ODIs to help balance a weak batting line up. He led India to her first test series win away from the subcontinent (in England) in many years. He would wear the bowlers down through tonnes of concentration and set the stage for the stroke players at number 4 and 5 to capitalize on a tired bowling attack.
Rahul Dravid was not so chuffed about his nickname the Wall because I remember he once said people would start pointing at cracks in the wall when he didn’t score or was out of form. The nickname Rahul the WALL Dravid doesn’t do justice to a man who adapted to so many difficult situations with shear grit and determination. A wall, a brick wall may take a lot of pounding before it gives way. But, a wall cannot do things that it is not built for. Dravid was built for test cricket. However, he could also build his game in ODIs (and later T20s) with remarkable finesse and consistency.
His legacy will not just be the most critical test runs he scored for India (don’t forget the thousands scored for Karnataka), not just the stunning catches he took standing at short leg and slips to Kumble, Srinath, Zaheer and others, not just the fact the he held the Indian cricket team together during a tumultuous time, but also the fact that Dravid set a bench mark for maximum effort. He worked hard to come up with an answer to almost every challenge that was thrown at him. He never flinched, not even when in pain, but grafted to the limits of his abilities.
Dravid…when you were out bowled yesterday (6-OCT-2013) in your last professional innings during the finals of the Champion’s league, my eyes became moist. I stood up and watched you walk back to your dug out. You have given me a lot of joy. They say no player is bigger than the game of cricket itself. I would go as far to say that you are a good reason for people to follow cricket. Those who don’t know anything about the game, may understand what cricket really stands for by knowing what you stood for in your career. I wish you well.