The unbreakable Great Wall of Dravid! | Daily News


 

RAHUL SHARAD DRAVID

The unbreakable Great Wall of Dravid!

The Indian cricket team since making their entry into Hall of Fame of Test cricket has produced some excellent and eye catching batsmen who could be better than the best known in world cricket.

To mention a few there was Mushtaq Ali, Vijay Merchant, Vijay Manjrekar, Lala Amaranath, Hanumant Singh and in recent times Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Shervag and the demi god of Indian cricket Sachin Tendulkar.

Keeping up to that tradition and equaling them and at times even bettering the efforts of those mentioned was a stylish, elegant and run scoring machine RAHUL SHARAD DRAVID who is our ‘SPORTS LEGEND’ this FRIDAY. DRAVID had many pet names such as ‘wall’, ‘Great wall’, ‘Mr. Dependable’ and ‘Fortress’. We feature him as a legend that remains a model for budding cricketers.

Bemused and bowled

He is known for his batting skills and big runs he made against all opposition. Yet, the writer would like to recall how DRAVID was bemused and bowled by the ‘carrom ball’ bowled by Sri Lanka’s spinning sensation of that time Ajantha Mendis.

The Test match between Sri Lanka and India was played at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground and DRAVID walked in and took strike with big runs under his belt and an enormous reputation.

DRAVID had only heard of Mendis and the magic he was capable of with the ball in hand and was facing him for first time. Mendis ran in and tossed a delivery and the next thing DRAVID heard was the death rattle of his stumps. The great DRAVID did not known or could read which way the ball would turn. He was all at sea and left deceived and dejected.

Elegant right hander

DRAVID stood out for technical correctness and his elegance as a right hand batsman. His strokes were all from the book. Executed with admirable footwork. Excellent timing was an example to young cricketers wanting to take to the game.

The runs he scored in Tests – 13,288 tell the story. He made 36 three figure scores and 63 half centuries and as a fielder he had a safe pair of hands standing mostly at slip and gobbled up 210 catches in Tests and 196 catches in limited over cricket.

Not only did he make big runs in the longer format of the game, but continued that form in the one day games making 10,899, with 12 hundreds and 83 fifties and took 196 catches.

Disappointment

DRAVID’S greatest disappointment would probably have been when he captained the India team to the World Cup in 2007 in the West Indies. The Indians tumbled out of the tournament in the first round. Although DRAVID took the blame for it, it was Australia’s Greg Chappell who was the coach who should have taken the blame.

From the day Chappell was appointed coach, he set about it the wrong way, cutting and chopping outstanding players in the manner he wanted leaving some of the most deserving which led to splits in the team.

It was not a happy and contended team that flew out to the Windies as the results showed being knocked out in the first round, much to the disappointment of their cricket crazy fans at the scene in the West Indies and at home.

First held a bat

DRAVID first held a bat at the age of 12 and played for Karnataka in the under-15, 17 and 19 levels. He showed more than ordinary promise as a batsman and it was not long before he made it to the Ranji Trophy, the top grade cricket in India while still at school.

He was very consistent with the bat and was nudging the selectors for a long time. And it was not long when he was drafted into the national team in 1994 for Wills World Cup. However he could not find a place in the playing eleven. He finally made his debut in 1996 against Sri Lanka in the Singer Cup in Singapore.

However it was not long before he was rewarded for his consistency. He was picked for a tour of England in 1996 and saw his cherished dream come true when he was picked to play in the Second Test at Lord’s.

Missed debut ton

Coming in at number 7 he would have enjoyed a dream debut of making a century, but when on 95 Chris Lewis the England paceman tempted him to nick a catch to the wicket keeper.

Even before Lewis could begin his appeal DRAVID walked away and throughout his career when he nicked a catch he would walk off before the appeal was made. How many batsmen would do that today?

DRAVID made his maiden century 148 against South Africa at the Wanderers which excellent knock also enabled him to win the ‘Man of the Match’ award for the first time which later became a regular feature.

Bag full of runs

As his career progressed he made bags full of runs, captained India with distinction, cultivated a good rapport with the media, had a vast following and always stood out as an example.

The Indian Government in recognition of his services to the game awarded him the prestigious Padma Shri Award. In the same year he was awarded the ‘Inaugural Player of the Year’ award by the International Cricket Council. He played his century of Tests against England on home soil in 2006.

DRAVID’S career was not sans controversy. He was found guilty of ball tampering in 2004 during an ODI against Zimbabwe. Match referee Clive Lloyd the former West Indian captain accused him of applying an energy sweet to the ball as a deliberate offence. DRAVID denied it was not his intent. However he was fined half of his match fee.

Glittering career

During his glittering career DRAVID also received the Arjuna Award for achievements in cricket in 1998, Padma Bhushan – India’s fourth highest civilian award, CEAT International Cricketer of the World Cup, one of the five cricketers selected as Wisden’s Cricketer of the Year in 2000, ICC cricketer of the Year in 2004, ICC Test player of the Year in 2004, captain of the ICC Test team in 2006, Don Bradman award in 2012, Wisden India’s highest impact Test batsman and was inducted to ICC Hall of Fame in 2018.

The likes of a batsman in the classical mould of RAHUL SHARAD DRAVID in Indian or world cricket will not surface again.

DRAVID’S STATS –

TESTS 164 – RUNS – 13,288 – HUNDREDS – 36 – FIFTIES – 63 – TOP SCORE – 270 – CATCHES – 210 - ODIS – 344 – RUNS – 10,889 – HUNDREDS – 12 – FIFTIES – 83 – TOP SCORE – 153 – CATCHES – 196.

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