Saturday, March 10, 2012

Adieu, Rahul...

So, finally, Rahul Dravid is going. Cricket, specially test cricket, will never be the same again. 

While I have always been a fan of Sachin Tendulkar, I have never been a "great" fan of his. I think that Tendulkar is many times over-rated in his abilities to take his team to victory, which is what a team sport is all about. The media has always been overly kind to him, a previlege not always extended to many others. And they were always terribly unkind to Rahul. He was always considered second-down to Sachin, who could never make a mistake, and who could never be dropped. Yet, Sachin has won much lesser number of matches for India than Rahul. But who cares? Its an unkind world to all, but to Sachin (even Raju Bharatan, one of my favourite circket writers, wrote a piece in Sportstar called, "The Sachin Fact and the Laxman Factor"). But the same Bharatan was forced to write in the mid-2000s: "I have seen so many incredible things happen in Indian cricket, on my 50-year cricket beat, that I would hate to see, for some obscure reason, Rahul Dravid's being subjected to pernicious pressure at this advanced stage in his career." It was again the same Bharatan, who wrote after Rahul's historic partnership with Laxman against Australia thus:
The unvarnished truth about Eden, of course, is that Laxman batted Australia out of that second Test in a style that lent substance to Rahul Dravid's `smack-on' 180. Rahul here played better than he had ever done before. Still Dravid played with fire when, upon reaching his 100, he let his upheld bat do the baiting - in a straight helmet-raised confrontation with the media in India. In that `pay-off' moment, Rahul sowed the wind. The whirlwind never is far off, with the media, in India, always in an air-conditioned position of comfort! What Sourav and Rahul must never forget is that this `sudden-death' game is, at all times, a stern reminder of James Shirley's famous line of thought: ``The glories of our blood and state, Are shadows, not substantial things; There is no armour against fate: Death lays his icy hand on kings.''
I have been a great fan of Dravid, right from his first Lords test in 1996 (followed by Trent Bridge). I was actually upset with Sourav for having walked away with all the praises for that century, depriving Dravid of all that he deserved. I loved the way the man put his foot forward. I loved the way he put his bat in front and hit the ball on the middle. I loved his perseverance. I loved his method; textbook batting? I never cared! It was always a treat to watch. He was never a run-getter, but always a run-gatherer. As the famous Siddhuism goes, "Confidence of Dravid grows in the garden of patience". As Vijay Lokapally writes: 
He was a connoisseur's delight. His footwork was assured and unrivalled, shoulder, elbow and head, all in flawless position. Old-timers tell us he was quite like the three Vijays — Merchant, Hazare and Manjrekar — technically accomplished and blessed with tremendous character and temperament. He was a picture of what some former greats professed — correct batsmanship. Modern cricket did not see a better batsman who knew which ball to leave.
The Amul ad on Rahul captures the point so well. 

My problem with Sourav got worse when Dravid went over-generous and said: "on the off-side, there is god and then Sourav". Sourav? Who ran scared of any rising ball, and who only had a fantastic timing in hitting the ball on the off-side, apart from being a fiery captain?

Four years down his debut, Rahul was the vice-captain in 2000. When Sourav was the skipper, Rahul always played a loyal second fiddle. And whenever he took over from Sourav in between, he showed his class as a skipper: he attracted praise for "the air and flair with which this solo-looking performer conducted the orchestra, each time he took over the baton from Sourav", as Bharatan put it. He effortlessly won tests for India in Multan against Pakistan, Mumbai against Australia and so on. Bharatan wrote in Sportstar that, "each time Rahul led India, he brought a rare mental toughness to the task. Without turning the game into a slanging match" (as did Sourav). But yes, his team let him down at the World Cup. His own form suffered. He was a defeated man! He still, probably, hasnt recovered. 

Having said all this, let me rest my case more in "reason". I like all three, Sachin, Rahul and Laxman, though I love only Rahul. Dileep Premachandran once wrote that Indian cricket was blessed with the famous three: Sachin, the genius; Rahul, the builder; and Laxman, the artist..."united by a common purpose". I dont disagree. But I love Rahul, of the three!

I remember Faking News had an old posting, which said: "If Cricket is a religion, it's polytheistic, and Rahul Dravid is a God."

Adieu, Rahul...We will miss you...


  1. Title of the post is highly misleading. I thought its about Rahul Gandhi.

  2. @Anonymous: That was a good one! And yes, the other Rahul also needs an adieu; earlier the better!!