Archive for March, 2012


Unfortunately the dream run Bangladesh team had so far in the tournament did not continue in the finals, when they lost to Pakistan. But surely their performance in the tournament has won many hearts all over the world, and definitely would have made their nation proud.

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Finally the monkey is off Sachin’s back. The year long wait for his 100th hundred is over. Sachin Tendulkar scored his 100th international hundred, which is also his 49th ODI hundred today against Bangladesh. Ironically this is his 1st ODI hundred against Bangladesh, strange but yes that is the fact.

Sachin’s game in the past year looked like he was under tremendous pressure, and now once this mark has been surpassed, probably we will be able to see the kind of play he showed in 2010. With this also, he has created a record which probably looks to stay for a very long time. It will take a huge career for someone to break this. I remember almost a decade ago, 35 international centuries was the world record, which was broken by Sachin, and since then that record has stayed with him. And now he has stretched it to 100 international centuries. Probably when he must have started playing he would not have even dreamt of reaching such a record, so saying “it to be a dream come true” is not really appropriate I believe. But surely, this record is the testimony of the kind of cricket Sachin has played for the past 22 years.

In the end I wish his all this record, and hope that he will give us many more such moments in future. I also hope that this does not act as a demotivator for him, which motivates him to quit cricket, as now many people will surely start talking of his retirement plans. But I sincerely hope that it should take a lot of time for that announcement to come.


Well this analysis was published on the ESPNCricinfo site immediately after Rahul dravid announced his retirement from international and domestic cricket on Friday 9th March, 2012. So surely this analysis is not done by me, and also since it comes from cricinfo it can be taken to be very much accurate, legitimate, and correct.

This article was published under the heading: India’s overseas hero, and much more, with definitely sums up Dravid’s career correctly.

Here is the complete article:

Rahul Dravid scored more runs in India’s overseas wins than any other batsman, and his contributions go beyond his aggregate and hundreds.

The stat that perhaps best sums up Rahul Dravid is not the runs he made or the the hundreds he notched up, but the number of balls he consumed over a Test career that spanned fifteen-and-a-half years. In 286 Test innings, Dravid played 31,258 balls. Given that no other batsman has faced more than 29,000 deliveries, it puts into perspective the amount of hard work and sheer effort that went into scoring those 13,288 runs. There were other batsmen who had more natural talent, and were more elegant, aggressive, and exciting to watch. In terms of dedication to craft and working on achieving perfection, though, Dravid ranks second to none. That dedication fetched him just rewards, ensuring he scored runs in every country he played in, and finished his Test career as the second-highest run-getter, next only to Sachin Tendulkar.

From the time he scored 95 in his first Test innings against England at Lord’s, it was clear he was an exceptional batting talent, but even so, not many would have envisaged a career that spanned 164 Test matches and 344 one-day internationals. His maiden Test century, a sparkling 148 against a tough South African attack in Johannesburg, further confirmed his class, and from there it has been a journey of several highs, interspersed with – as every career must have – its share of lows.

For most of his career, consistency was one of Dravid’s fortes. For instance, of the first ten series that he played in (excluding one-off Tests), he averaged more than 40 in seven of them. His best phase, though, was the four-year period from the middle of 2002 to 2006, a stunning spell when he scored heavily pretty much everywhere he went: in 16 series during this period, 13 times he averaged more than 49, and nine times over 75. More importantly, he scored those runs in tough batting conditions, and in overseas Tests that led to wins abroad, a phenomenon that till then had been pretty rare in Indian cricket. During this period, his overseas average was an exceptional 77.07.

A slump followed, almost inevitably, from the middle of 2006 to 2008, when he struggled in South Africa, England, Australia and Sri Lanka. There was talk, inevitably again, that Dravid should quit Tests, but in his last three years he came out of that slump pretty well. He was among the runs in New Zealand, West Indies, and – in what must rank as arguably his best series, given the lack of batting support – in England in 2011, when he fought the England pace attack almost singlehandedly, scoring 461 runs at 76.83. His last series was admittedly a huge disappointment, but despite that he averaged more than 52 in his last 33 Tests.

Rahul Dravid’s Test career

Period

Tests

Runs

Average

100s/ 50s

Home ave

Away ave

Till Mar 31, 2002

55

4329

50.92

9/ 24

48.91

53.20

Apr 2002 – Jul 2006

49

4720

68.40

14/ 22

55.71

77.07

Aug 2006 – Dec 2008

27

1460

31.06

3/ 7

31.60

30.66

Jan 2009 onwards

33

2779

52.43

10/ 10

75.31

42.54

Career

164

13,288

52.31

36/ 63

51.35

53.03

At home overseas
As mentioned above, perhaps the most significant aspect of Dravid’s Test career was that the runs he scored contributed significantly to India’s wins, mainly overseas. Overall, Dravid scored 5131 runs in Test wins, next only to Tendulkar’s 5594. However, in overseas Test wins, he was often India’s main man, even more than Tendulkar. India won 15 Tests abroad during Dravid’s career (excluding matches in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe), and in those games he scored 1577 runs at 65.70 – both aggregate and average is higher than Tendulkar’s.

Quite fittingly, Dravid was Man of the Match in the last overseas Test win that India achieved during his career – his second-innings 112 and match tally of 152 were largely instrumental in India winning a low-scoring game in Kingston by 63 runs. In all, eight of his 11 Man-of-the-Match awards came in overseas Tests, and five in overseas wins, including unforgettable performances at Headingley (2002), Adelaide (2003), Rawalpindi (2004) and Kingston (2006). Tendulkar won only five out of his 14 Man-of-the-Match awards overseas, and only one in a win (excluding Bangladesh). In fact, no Indian has won as many match awards overseas as Dravid has. (Remember, though, that this award wasn’t always around during the days of some of India’s earlier players.)

As well as helping India win overseas, Dravid also scored mountains of runs in draws overseas, averaging more than 75 in those matches, with ten centuries in 32 Tests. Two of those hundreds were in the drawn game in Hamilton in 1999, one of two times he scored a century in each innings of a Test. In fact, he is one of only three Indians to achieve this feat – Sunil Gavaskar and Vijay Hazare are the others.

Indian batsmen in overseas* Tests, in wins and draws

Batsman

Won Tests

Runs

Average

100s/ 50s

Drawn Tests

Runs

Average

100s/ 50s

Rahul Dravid

15

1577

65.70

4/ 7

32

3083

75.19

10/ 17

Sachin Tendulkar

13

1219

60.95

5/ 3

42

3484

71.10

11/ 18

VVS Laxman

14

1111

52.90

2/ 8

26

1931

58.51

4/ 14

Virender Sehwag

11

965

56.76

3/ 1

15

1386

57.75

4/ 4

Sunil Gavaskar

9

756

50.40

3/ 3

30

2697

64.21

9/ 12

Sourav Ganguly

9

617

51.41

1/ 5

21

1601

59.29

5/ 8

Gundappa Viswanath

6

533

53.30

2/ 3

19

1040

40.00

2/ 8

* Excluding Tests in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe

No. 1 at No. 3
India didn’t always have the luxury of solid opening pairs through his career, which made Dravid’s presence at No. 3 all the more important. He is the only batsman at the moment to have scored more than 10,000 runs at that position, and he did it at a superb average too, scoring close to 53 runs per dismissal. At No. 3, though, his home record was better – he averaged 54.81 in India, and 51.35 abroad. In overseas Tests excluding Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, his average at No. 3 fell marginally below 50, to 48.75.

Highest run-getters at No. 3 in Tests

Batsman

Innings

Runs

Average

100s/ 50s

Rahul Dravid

219

10,524

52.88

28/ 50

Ricky Ponting

196

9904

56.27

32/ 43

Kumar Sangakkara

158

8702

58.79

27/ 36

Don Bradman

56

5078

103.63

20/ 10

Richie Richardson

107

4711

47.11

14/ 21

Rohan Kanhai

90

4689

52.68

13/ 20

David Boon

111

4412

45.58

13/ 20

Ian Chappell

91

4279

50.94

13/ 22

Dravid’s stats at No. 3 sorted by the score at which he came in to bat present some interesting numbers. He averaged only 38 when the first wicket fell with ten runs or fewer on the board, but on the 18 occasions when the first wicket fell at zero, he averaged 51.94, with three centuries and as many fifties. In fact, his highest Test score, 270, came when he came out to bat second ball, after Virender Sehwag had fallen to Shoaib Akhtar off the first ball of the innings in Rawalpindi. He also had plenty of success when he came in to bat fairly early, with the score between 11 and 20. The 148 at Headingley in 2002 came after the first wicket fell for 15, while the 217 that followed in the next Test, at The Oval, was scored after the first wicket fell at 18.

He obviously relished coming in to bat after the openers had given the team a solid start. On the 66 occasions when they added more than 50, Dravid averaged 62.41. Among his key knocks in such situations was the 233 in Adelaide in 2003 – that match-winning effort came after the openers had added 66.

Dravid at No. 3 by point-of-entry scores

Point of entry

Innings

Runs

Average

100s/ 50s

10 or below

66

2322

38.07

4/ 12

11 to 20

45

2482

60.54

7/ 9

21 to 50

42

1913

53.14

4/ 11

51 and above

66

3807

62.41

13/ 18

Staying through partnerships
Dravid’s ability to spend long periods at the crease meant bowlers had to invariably work hard to get his wicket. On an average, he played 123 balls per dismissal, which works out to 20.3 overs. Since the year of his debut, the only batsman who has faced 10,000-plus deliveries and has a higher rate of balls per dismissal is Jacques Kallis, who averages 125.55 balls per dismissal. They’re the only two batsmen with a balls-per-dismissal figure of more than 120. Further down the table below, Tendulkar and Kumar Sangakkara have similar numbers: both have higher averages than Dravid, but their higher scoring rates also mean they don’t play as many deliveries per dismissal.

Highest balls per dismissal in Tests since Jan 1996 (Qual: 10,000 balls faced)

Batsman

Innings

Not outs

Balls faced

Average

Strike rate

Balls per dismissal

Jacques Kallis

253

39

26,867

57.28

45.62

125.55

Rahul Dravid

286

32

31,258

52.31

42.51

123.06

Shivnarine Chanderpaul

221

33

21,365

48.79

42.93

113.64

Thilan Samaraweera

114

20

10,497

53.42

47.84

111.67

Steve Waugh

137

21

12,705

53.06

48.45

109.53

Gary Kirsten

143

14

13,841

47.19

43.98

107.29

Sachin Tendulkar

256

25

23,781

56.22

54.61

102.95

Kumar Sangakkara

179

12

17,191

55.97

54.37

102.94

Dravid’s ability to spend long periods at the crease obviously meant his contribution to the team was much more than just the runs he scored. His solidity at the top of the order allowed the other, more extravagant, strokeplayers in the Indian team to express themselves freely, knowing that Dravid would hold his end up for long periods without losing concentration.

The table below shows that when Dravid was at the crease, the team scored 32,039 runs (60 of those runs were in the Test between Australia and the ICC World XI, so 31,979 runs were scored by the Indian team). Given that the entire Indian team scored 89,668 runs, it means 35.6% of the total runs that India made in Tests involving Dravid were scored with him at the crease. The corresponding percentage for Tendulkar is 29.9, and 32.6 for Kallis. Dravid is also the only batsman to be involved in more than 700 partnerships; in fact, no other batsman has even touched 650 so far.

Every time Dravid walked out to bat, he was involved in, on an average, 2.58 partnerships. Among batsmen who’ve played at least 100 innings, only Shivnarine Chanderpaul has a higher partnerships-per-innings number (2.66). So, while Dravid scored heaps of runs himself, his batting style also meant many more runs were being scored from the other end while he was around, all of which helped the team’s cause.

Partnership runs for batsmen with 10,000-plus Test runs

Batsman

Partnerships

P’ship runs

100/ 50 stands

Batsman runs

Percentage

Rahul Dravid

738

32,039

88/ 126

13,288

41.47

Sachin Tendulkar

646

30,278

85/ 121

15,470

51.09

Ricky Ponting

496

26,703

85/ 110

13,200

49.43

Jacques Kallis

578

26,107

64/ 119

12,260

46.96

Allan Border

617

24,500

63/ 104

11,174

45.61

S Waugh

590

23,457

64/ 87

10,927

46.58

Brian Lara

508

21,495

62/ 84

11,953

55.61

Sunil Gavaskar

519

21,080

58/ 85

10,122

48.02

Mahela Jayawardene

420

20,635

63/ 78

10,086

48.88

Dravid has also been involved in more century stands than any other batsman: he finishes at 88, with two other current players about whom there has been plenty of retirement talk – Tendulkar and Ponting – on 85 each. Dravid is also the only batsman to have ten or more century stands with four others. And with Tendulkar, Dravid scored more partnership runs and century stands than any other pair, including openers: 6920 runs in 143 partnerships at 50.51, with 20 century stands.

Batsmen involved in most 100-plus stands in Tests

Batsman

Century stands

Partners with 10+ century stands

Rahul Dravid

88

Tendulkar (20), Laxman (12), Sehwag (10), Ganguly(10)

Ricky Ponting

85

Hayden (16), Langer (14)

Sachin Tendulkar

85

Dravid (20), Ganguly (12)

Jacques Kallis

64

de Villiers (12)

Steve Waugh

64

Allan Border

63

Mahela Jayawardene

63

Sangakkara (14), Samaraweera (10)

Brian Lara

62

Sarwan (12)

Shivnarine Chanderpaul

60

Sunil Gavaskar

58

Chauhan (11), Vengsarkar (10), M Amarnath (10)

Beyond the batsman
And if all those achievements as a batsman are not enough, Dravid was captain of the Indian Test team for 25 Tests, a period during which the team had an 8-6 win-loss record, and won series in West Indies and England. Among Indian captains who led in 20 or more Tests, only MS Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly have a better win-loss ratio.

Indian captains with best win-loss ratio (Qual: 20 Tests)

Captain

Tests

Win/Loss

Draw

W/L ratio

MS Dhoni

37

17/ 10

10

1.70

Sourav Ganguly

49

21/ 13

15

1.61

Rahul Dravid

25

8/ 6

11

1.33

Sunil Gavaskar

47

9/ 8

30

1.12

Mohammad Azharuddin

47

14/ 14

19

1.00

And on the field, he snaffled a record 210 catches, mostly in the slips. That was another aspect of the game where his immense powers of concentration stood him in good stead.

There’s plenty to like about Rahul Dravid’s Test career. The one aspect that’s disappointing, though, is his record against Australia and South Africa, arguably the two best bowling sides during his playing period. His poor final series in Australia meant his overall average against them dipped below 40 (38.67), while against South Africa he averaged only 33.83. Thus, in 54 Tests against those two teams, he averaged 36.75 with only four hundreds; in 27 Tests in those two countries, he averaged 36.53, with only two centuries. He never scored another Test hundred in South Africa after that 148 in Johannesburg in 1996-97, while the 233 in Adelaide remained his only Test hundred in Australia. Those, though, are minor blips in a career that largely stayed at an exceptionally high level through more than 15 years.


In just my previous post, I had written about Dravid’s career reaching towards its end. But I did not know that it will end so soon. Today Dravid announced his retirement from international and domestic cricket. Surely that is a big step taken, unfortunately this is what media pressure can do to you. But the loss will have to bared entirely by the team and his fans. Unfortunately, we will never see him play for India again. However, he will play in IPL this year, but surely the Great Indian Wall will be missed on the field.

Here is the complete article covering his retirement from the ESPNcricinfo site:

Rahul Dravid announincing his retirement

Rahul Dravid’s retirement from international cricket was announced at his home ground, the Chinnaswamy Stadium, in a function room filled with more than 200 people. Family, team-mates, friends, KSCA members, officials and journalists had gathered – as did fans watching a live broadcast on national television – to mark the end of a remarkable career and a “reassuring presence” in the Indian team. Dravid, the second-highest run-getter in the history of Test cricket, possibly the last of India’s classical Test batsmen, was a cricketer who successfully straddled the old school with the new age, becoming a pivotal figure in the growth of India’s Test team in the 21st century.

The press conference began on schedule and, within three-quarters of an hour, Dravid left the room and international cricket as he had walked in. Swift, smooth, business-like, and, on Friday, to the sound-and-light burst of camera flashbulbs. The significance of Friday’s announcement will be understood only six months down the line, when India play Test cricket for the first time in 16 years without the most reliable one-drop in their history.

The decision to retire was not sudden, he said; the period of contemplation had lasted over a year as he assessed his game series after series. The disappointment of the Australia tour had not given him any ‘eureka’ moment around his decision to leave the game. “I didn’t take the decision based on one series… these decisions are based on a lot of other things, it’s the culmination of a lot of things. I don’t think it’s based on what happened in the last series. For each one it comes differently, for me it’s come with a bit of contemplation, a bit of thought, with friends and family.”

On his return from Australia, Dravid spent a month, taking out the “emotion” from the overall result in order to “look at things dispassionately,” he said. At the end he said, “I came to this decision and when I came to it, I was very clear in my mind.” It had, he said, been easy as it was difficult, that he had known “deep down in his heart” that it was time for the “next generation of the young Indian cricketer” to take over.

It was tough to leave “the life I have lived for 16 years and, before that, five years of first class cricket. It [cricket] is all I have known all my grown life … it wasn’t a difficult decision for me because I just knew in my heart that the time was right, and I was very happy and comfortable in what I had achieved and what I had done. You just know deep down that it is time to move on and let the next generation take over.”

Dravid entered the function room straight into a scrum of photographers, looking almost apologetic at having caused such a fuss. He was dressed in his India blazer and seated on the podium next to BCCI president N Srinivasan and his former team-mate, captain and now KSCA president, Anil Kumble. The walls around him were lined with portraits of Karnataka’s Test players, in the front row of the audience were members of his family, team-mates and the cricket community of the city.

He began by reading out his statement, his voice steady as he listed the people who’d played a part in every stage of his career – coaches, selectors, trainers, physios, officials, team-mates, family, even the media. He ended with the Indian cricket fan. “The game is lucky to have you and I have been lucky to play before you… My approach to cricket has been reasonably simple: it was about giving everything to the team, it was about playing with dignity and it was about upholding the spirit of the game. I hope I have done some of that. I have failed at times, but I have never stopped trying. It is why I leave with sadness but also with pride.”

With the statement ended and applause breaking out, Dravid looked at his wife in the first row. There was both relief and calm on his face and something other than television lights reflecting in his eyes. After the contemplation and the deliberation, the conversations with people he trusted, it was over.

Dravid became the first of India’s senior-most cricketers – Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman being the others – to quit the game after a season of speculation surrounding their future. His decision follows a poor tour of Australia but he enjoyed a prolific run through 2011, scoring five centuries – including four in the Caribbean and England. However, he is set to captain Rajasthan Royals in the upcoming IPL season.

The biggest surprise of the afternoon, however – far more unexpected than even the finality of Dravid’s retirement – was to follow. It came from BCCI president N Srinivasan: a man famous for an undemonstrative, glacial public face made an emotional and heartfelt speech. He spoke extempore of an “irreplaceable” cricketer, his voice wavering more than once. Srinivasan recalled having watched Dravid “grow from the days he played club cricket in Chennai, from the Ranji Trophy days … to the time he captained India”. Dravid, he said, was an “ambassador for the sport, for the Indian team and for India”.

“None of us really want to see such great players go away, we like to think they are permanent,” Srinivasan said. “I think that deciding when to retire is possibly the hardest decision Rahul has ever faced. It is not easy to say adieu…”

Kumble called Dravid one of Karnataka’s “finest cricketing sons” and spoke of his “reassuring presence” for India in the dressing room and on the field. It was Kumble who got Dravid to eventually crack his first smile of the afternoon, when he said the KSCA would now “expect to see you often in the association wearing the administrative hat.” There were also a few tips on life after retirement, Kumble telling Dravid that apart from being busier “with exceptional demands made on your time, your ability to say no will be challenged like never before”.

Sitting in the audience was Dravid’s former team-mate Javagal Srinath, the current KSCA secretary, who had walked into the room before the event to check if the arrangements were in order. Dravid’s immediate future includes six weeks of the IPL and he offered no clues as to whether he would take up a post-retirement life as coach, administrator or commentator. “I truly believe that some time away from the game will be good for me, I’ve played the game for 20 years I’ve lived in a cocoon, in a surreal world, this world has been away from reality in some ways.” He did say though that because he loved routines, his return to the real world could include his new routines that involve dropping his sons off at school and shopping for groceries.

Among Dravid’s contemporaries, both Kumble and Sourav Ganguly retired just after Test matches and Dravid was asked whether he had not wanted to end his career that way, walking off a field of play. “Just to keep playing for the sake of playing just one Test match, I didn’t think was right.” He needed to play, “for the right reasons – to win Test matches for India. I’ve done that for 16 years and I feel the time was right, I’ve had a great run. I have given this some thought … at the end of the day when a player has to go, he knows he has to go and I didn’t feel the need to drag it on longer [in order to have a farewell Test].” Dravid was replying to questions in three of the four languages he speaks, taking particular pride in receiving special applause from the back of the room for working his way through a fairly long answer in Kannada.

Along with his wife, sons and brother, Dravid had walked onto the Chinnaswamy field for a short while just before he came in to speak to the media. The stadium was his finishing school before his graduation to Test cricket, and the adjacent NCA nets turned into a trusted training ground over the past decade where Dravid had always showed up early to work on his game.

Now retired, he will finally be free of the 7am gym and nets sessions. But what about the pure love of just batting? Of striking the ball with bat? Wouldn’t he want to steal into the nets just for a hit or two? Dravid paused for a moment, smiled and then said: “Probably in the quiet. I’ll come very late at night.”

On the day he left the international game, this became the perfect final image of Rahul Dravid. Not that of the obdurate competitor in the arclights of cricket’s ‘surreal’ centre. But of the “reassuring presence”, of the craftsman in the quiet of dusk, of the man who never stopped trying.

I am surely not the biggest fan of Rahul Dravid, but still he is definitely one of my favorite sportsmen. I found an article on yahoo, as a letter to Rahul from one of his fans like me and I found it so touching that I am putting it here on my site as a tribute to Rahul Dravid.

Dear Rahul,

This is not going to be easy. But I will try. One sentence at a time.

Congratulations. Is that appropriate? That’s what people at work say when someone quits. And, despite the anguish surrounding your decision, this is supposed to be a happy day. At least I would like to think of it that way.

I expected you to finish in Adelaide. The same Adelaide where, in 2003, you found gold at the end of the rainbow. The same Adelaide where another colossus, Adam Gilchrist, retired four years ago, his wife and children sitting among the press, his voice breaking towards the end of each sentence, tears trickling down his cheeks as the press conference wound down.

But the Chinnaswamy Stadium fits well. That’s where it all began. And that’s where it ends. Like Gilly, you leave with your family and former team-mates watching over your retirement announcement. And like him, you leave amid breaking voices and teary eyes. 

There is a constant temptation, especially when a cricketer retires, to draw comparisons. We live in a world that loves definitives. It frowns upon ambiguity. We want to determine your exact location in the pantheon. I will refrain from this. I am sure you are tired of being compared to other great Indian batsmen. And I am not about to bore you.

But I must tell you something that has bothered me for a long time. You are too conveniently slotted as a specialist batsman. I disagree. That’s too simplistic. For me, you are an allrounder – not in the way our limited imaginations defines an allrounder but in a broader, more sweeping, sense. 

I find it hard to think of a more versatile cricketer. You were one of our finest short leg fielders. You were, for the most part, a remarkable slip catcher. You have opened the innings, batted at No.3, batted at No.6 (from where you conjured up that 180 in Kolkata). I’m sure you have batted everywhere else.

You have kept wicket, offering an added dimension to the one-day side in two World Cups. You even scored 145 in one of those games. You captained both the Test and one-day teams. Sure things didn’t go according to plan but you were a superb on-field captain. More importantly you were India’s finest vice-captain, an aspect that is often conveniently forgotten. Jeez, you even took some wickets.

There’s something unique about this. In Indian cricket’s hall of fame, you can proudly share a table with Gavaskar and Tendulkar. But you can also share one with Kapil, Mankad and Ganguly – cricketers who excelled in more than one aspect of their game for an extended period of time.

The only people who will understand this are those who you played with. The only people who will begin to appreciate your value to the side are those who you propped up. Which is why it is not the least surprising when Tendulkar said yesterday, ‘There can be no cricketer like Rahul Dravid.’ Hell yeah. It’s too far-fetched.

Talking about Tendulkar, you know my best moment involving you two? Adelaide again. 2003 again. Damien Martyn c Dravid b Tendulkar 38. Ripping legbreak, spanking cut, screaming edge, lunging right hand, gotcha. That was magic. Pure magic. Swung the game. Ignited the series.

What else will I remember? Hmm. That shirt of yours immaculately tucked in. How did you manage to keep it tucked in every single time? I’ll remember the way you chased the ball to the boundary line, as if you were competing in a hundred-meter race. I’ll remember the intensity with which you studied the pitch before the game, like a geologist, scraping the surface with your palms, examining the grains of sand, gauging the direction of the breeze. You loved all these tiny details, didn’t you?

There is a general perception that you have not got the credit you deserve. I don’t know if that is accurate. I wonder if you feel that way. But just you wait. Wait for India to play a Test without you. Wait for the team to lose an early wicket, especially on a challenging pitch. You’ll hear a gazillion sighs, sighs filled with longing. India 8 for 1 and you sitting in his living room, sipping tea and watching TV. I’ll be surprised if you don’t palpably feel a nation’s collective yearning for a sunnier, glorious past.

But even that I may be able to somehow handle. What I won’t be able to come to terms with is not watching you bat. Over the years few things have given me as much joy as watching you construct an innings, hour upon hour, brick upon brick.

Here I must mention what the great American author, Edgar Allan Poe, once said about the importance of punctuation.

It does not seem to be known that, even where the sense is perfectly clear, a sentence may be deprived of half its force – its spirit – its point – by improper punctuation.

An innings of yours would be incomplete without the punctuation marks that you masterfully employed along the way: the focussed leaves, the immaculate dead-bats, the softening of the grip, the late strokeplay, the ducking, the weaving, the swaying, the head totally still, your eyes always on the ball, the focus, more focus, still more focus, even more focus.

There is no point watching an innings of yours stripped of all this. I’ve cursed all these TV producers who create highlight packages with fours, sixes, your raised bat after each fifty, a jump after a hundred, more fours, more sixes and done. Finished. Poof. That’s supposed to be a summation of your innings.

It’s the same with all these photographers who click away and the websites that use those photos to create galleries. None of them even begin to portray the painstaking manner in which you create these pearls. None of them can capture over after over of graft. There is nothing more exhilarating that being exhausted after watching you bat. But there is no technology that can capture that, no software that can simulate it.

So if my grandson were to ask me about your batting, I would be lost. The only way anyone can begin to understand your craft is by watching you bat through a whole day, by experiencing your pain. There are no short cuts.

There are a million links that pop up on YouTube when I type ‘Rahul Dravid’. All of them show you batting. None of them contain your essence. There is no Rahul Dravid in there.

That’s sad. But maybe that’s also a good thing. I was fortunate to be able to watch you bat. My grandson won’t be as lucky. He’s just going to be born at the wrong time. Let’s go with that. It’s much easier.

As I said, this is supposed to be a happy day. It’s the memories that matter. You’ve left us a world full of them.

So long, Rahul. Adios. Ciao. Auf Wiedersehen. Tata. Bye. Bye. Olleyadagali guru.

And thank you. It’s been a privilege.

Yours faithfully,

Sidvee