Saturday, March 10, 2012

What has the GenNext learnt from Rahul Dravid?

Cheteshwar Pujara
I was 20 or 21. He was playing for Karnataka against Saurashtra in Rajkot. He is one of my idols. I just wanted to ask him that if I wanted to play at the international level, what should I do and how can I improve myself.
He was very happy to talk to me. He was very friendly. He told me he had heard a lot about me scoring in domestic cricket and he was really impressed with that. When you hear from a big player, that he has heard a bit about you, it is very nice. After that, he gave me a few tips about succeeding at the top level.
If it is similar to your game, it is easier to communicate and even he can understand my mentality, what I am thinking and how I can improve. Because he has gone through this stage many years back, he can understand a youngster's psychology.
(One thing you would take from Dravid's game) I would say his positive attitude towards the game. A bowler has to work really hard to get his wicket. That quality I admire a lot because even I don't like to get out.
In the Durban Test, I played a pull shot and got out. He saw that and when I asked him what went wrong, he told me to play my normal game. He had seen me play in the Ranji Trophy and said that normally you don't play those kinds of shots. "It is not your strength. You should play to your strength. The ball was skidding off the wicket and the bounce was so high you can't control the shot."

Ajinkya Rahane
He showed us how important your wicket is and to value it always. Another thing about him is how humble he always is on and off the field. That quality really stands out. I had made 165 and 98 in the 2008-09 Duleep Trophy final in Chennai against South Zone. He [Dravid] was part of that side. I wanted to go and ask him about my batting but was feeling hesitant about approaching such a big player. Instead, he himself came up to me and told me that I was doing well and needed to continue playing the way I had been playing.
He also told me that I belonged to the international level and would play for India soon. He asked me to develop more confidence in my batting which is so important at the highest level. To have my idol, who I had grown up watching, reposing so much faith in me was a huge thing. I have had the privilege of sharing two dressing rooms with him - India and Rajasthan Royals. 

Abhinav Mukund
He is a very, very meticulous man. He is very careful about all the cricketing gear in his kit bag. It is all in order. It is never out of place. I saw it when I started playing alongside Dravid. He was just next to me and you could see all the pairs of gloves arranged neatly in one row. You could see the bats in one corner. You would never see things out of place. He is a man of order, I think. He is known for his professionalism and his ethics so it comes alongside his character.
There was one game where the ball flicked his shoelaces and he got out in England. You could notice the next day that he had changed his shoelaces and tucked them in deep. When you say that the man leaves nothing to chance, that is the biggest example of that.
He has definitely been very approachable. He is known to be a very quiet man but once you approach him, once you start talking to him, he keeps talking to you.
[One thing you would take from Dravid's game] Temperament. Ability to fight it out in the middle. Ability to prove to himself and to others that he can do it and he can do it outside the country. I think the biggest example would have been the tours of West Indies and England where he got four hundreds in seven Tests. The ability to prove people wrong again and again. 

Rohit Sharma
I've learnt quite a lot from him. The first thing is putting a price on your wicket. Secondly, no matter what condition and situation you are batting in, never give up. Just be there, feel the heat, feel the pressure. That is when your true character shows. He showed us that. That is the biggest thing I learnt from him.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tributes pour in

There was and is only one Rahul Dravid. There can be no other. I will miss Rahul in the dressing room and out in the middle.
- Sachin Tendulkar

Dravid is obviously one of India's greatest batsmen - great in all conditions - and one who scored runs runs everywhere. From a personal perspective, Rahul is one of the best men I've ever worked with... he's not only a great cricketer, but a great man.
- John Wright

He's probably the nicest guy - no, he is the nicest guy - that I've met in cricket. He's a phenomenal man. He loves the game with so much passion, it's in his blood and in his heart.
- Shane Watson

He was the guy youngsters in the dressing room looked up to. Sachin would always be the guy who inspired awe. But a lot of players knew Sachin was something special, while they could all be Rahul Dravid. Rahul was one of them, working hard - there really is going to be a big void in Indian cricket now.
- Sunil Gavaskar

He was a totally selfless cricketer. He has been very helpful and never said no to anyone and always gave his best.
- Bapu Nadkarni

It's a bold decision. He probably doesn't feel he has no cricket left. He is making way for the youngsters, which is amazing. It's sort of an example for many others.
- Anshuman Gaekwad

There cannot be another Rahul Dravid. He is a legend. As a youngster, I learnt a lot from him. Bowling to him, talking to him, sharing the dressing room...anything cannot be better than that. I personally feel there cannot be another Rahul Dravid.
- Pragyan Ojha

Jam, it was a pleasure & privilege to have played with u and ur presence in the dressing room always added to our confidence. Will miss u lots.
- Virender Sehwag

Congrats to Rahul Dravid on an amazing career! You will be missed. Fantastic person and Cricketer! India's #wall
- Yuvraj Singh

Rahul Dravid retires... cricket loses one of its finest batsmen; sport, one of its finest gentlemen.
- Jeffrey Archer

"Rahul Dravid retires.. the world's most respected cricketer over the last 20 (years).
- Michael Vaughan

"Rahul Dravid-LEGEND!! Plain & simple.. congrats on an incredible career!! India will miss The Wall."
- Kevin Pietersen

Champion on and off the field, showed us all that sky is the limit with hard work, patience and discipline.
- Mahesh Bhupathi

Rahul Dravid is one of the all-time greats of the game. One of the top 5 batters I played against. Lara, Sachin, Ponting Kallis are the other 4.
- Alec Stewart

They say sport serves society by providing vivid examples of excellence. To me the most vivid & dependable has to be Rahul Dravid.
- Shah Rukh Khan

Knew the man behind the bat. Not often do you find a person as exceptional as his achievements.
- Sanjay Manjrekar

Some succeed because they are destined to, but Rahul Dravid succeeded because he was DETERMINED to.
- Navjot Singh Sidhu

Farewell Rahul Dravid - greatest No3 since Bradman. #TheWall
- Piers Morgan

Cricket once was a Gentlemen's game & Rahul Dravid Personified tat. Thanks Rahul for enriching our lives. You'll Never retire in our hearts.:)
- Anupam Kher

Congrats to Rahul Dravid on an amazing career! You will be missed. Fantastic person and Cricketer! India's #wall
- AB de Villiers

Congrats on a Fantastic, Superb International Career! The Great Legend Rahul Dravid !!The wall will be miss!!
- Chris Gayle

Rahul Dravid retires, proof that decent and well-rounded men can excel at the highest levels of sport
- Derek Pringle

Thank you Rahul Dravid, the talent of ur's will be missed which produced outstanding results, and to keep repeating it took character.
- Rohan Bopanna

Congrats to Rahul Dravid on a fantastic career. He can be very proud about what he achieved and the way he went about his business.
- Shaun Pollock

Extremely emotional to see my hero bid goodbye to cricket. Thank You for the memories. Words fail me. You're a legend. #respect.
- Aakash Chopra

Rahul Dravid retires from international cricket

As I am trying to type this, my mind is completely lost in all the memories of this great man. Not in a mood to write anything, but there is something which I thought is worth sharing with all of you - a perfect tribute to The Wall from Harsha Bhogle.


Rahul Dravid batted exactly like the person he is: stately and upright, dignity and poise his two shoulders, standing up to everything coming at him with minimum fuss. He picked his shots carefully, almost like he was weighing the risk for fear of letting himself and his side down. There was little about him that was flamboyant - there isn't with an oak - and patiently, brick by brick, he built giant edifices. He is a good man and he batted like a good man.
And like with most of his choices in life, he has chosen well again. He has not craved a full house on its feet, there has been no grandstanding. The retirement is a sports-page event not a gossip item. He knew it was time. "I'm sure you have thought it through," I said when he called. "I know this is the time," he said. "Any longer and it will be for the wrong reason." I expected nothing less from a man it has been my privilege to watch and to know for 16 years.
It was but a feather that prevented him from getting a century on debut at Lord's. He would have liked it, for he has this sense of history about him. He would have wanted to be on that honours board, and 15 years later he inscribed his name there with a Dravid special. They love him there like he is one of their own, and indeed England has been a recurring motif in his life. The 1999 World Cup; the majesty of 2002, when he outbatted the world and produced one of his finest innings in Leeds; winning a series as captain in 2007; and then those three centuries last year that reminded us once again what Test cricket was all about.
At Lord's he remained not out from No. 3; at Trent Bridge he opened the batting and was ninth out; and at The Oval, at the age of 38, he had but ten minutes between deliveries as he batted through the innings for six and a half hours, before returning to open the batting. A standing ovation had just died down before another took its place. I stood too, not for the first time.
And he loved to explore England, on foot, in buses and in trains; always asking about the latest musical and offering extended reviews of those he had seen. One such exploration took him to Scotland, from where he returned humbler, if that was indeed possible. He was getting paid to play, he said, but everyone else was paying to play - taking unpaid leave, shutting down shops, all for the sheer joy of playing. He learnt, he said, how much you can take for granted as an international star. I can see why he will continue to be a giver, why his doors will be open for other cricketers. And I hope they learn from him never to say no.
There were two things Dravid didn't really love in cricket: opening the batting and keeping wicket. He was asked to do both at various times, and I asked him if he ever contemplated saying no. He didn't enjoy it, he said, but took it as a challenge, to see how good he could be. This acceptance of challenges is what has defined his cricket and made him one of the finest team players there has been. A challenge, he said, allowed him to understand himself better, it gave him a reason to play sport. If he shied away, he would never know how good he could be. He kept wicket in about 70 one-day internationals, never most convincingly, but he allowed himself to look bad for the team to look good. It was always the team for him and in the little piece he wrote for the book that my wife Anita and I did, he quoted Kipling: for the strength of the wolf is the pack and the strength of the pack is the wolf. It was nice to see a cricketer quoting from literature.

The team is like a pot, Dravid often says. Some put in and some take out. The more who put in, the fuller it gets, and those were the players he enjoyed playing with the most: those who put into the pot. He was one of the leading contributors and there was never an effort at gaining sympathy or media attention for it. He gave quietly. He was one of the reasons why India recovered so quickly from the match-fixing issue around the turn of the century. India had some outstanding men of integrity at the time. Tendulkar, Dravid, Kumble, Ganguly, Laxman and Srinath. It was a good group to belong to.
The turn of the century was also the coming of age of Dravid as an international cricketer. He had proved people wrong about his ability to play one-day cricket at the World Cup but then went to Australia convinced he needed to do well there to gain respect. It is a word he will often use in conversation ("the respect in your dressing room and that of your opponents is what matters") but in quest of it that time, he tried too hard, cocooning himself into a mass of nervous energy. He struggled but returned in 2003, at the height of his powers as a batsman, to peel off a double-century in Adelaide that won India a famous Test.
He scored many in that phase, most of them away and throughout his career, his home and away averages have sat close together. It is the mark of a genuinely great player. And it is away that the most memorable innings were played: in New Zealand in 1999, England in 2002, Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04, and in the West Indies in 2006. To that extent he was the true successor to Sunil Gavaskar.
And his father will be proud of that. Oh, we family folk are suckers for that kind of sentiment. In 1994, when I used to do the highlights of domestic cricket for ESPN, Dravid's father would often call to ask if he could get highlights of his son's batting. The request was always very politely made and a thank you was always offered when I met him. You can see the shyness in the genes, the correctness. I don't mention it lightly. In our obsession with saluting the here and now we sometimes ignore what produced success. If Dravid senior was proud of his young man, Rahul was proud enough of his mother to be the photographer when she received her PhD. It might seem a small thing to do but it tells you a lot about the person. Giant edifices are built on solid foundations.
And so it is with a touch of emotion that I will say goodbye to India's finest No. 3. He wasn't the Wall, not for me. Yes, his defence was as perfect as it could get, his steeliness so admirable, but he played shots that warmed the heart. The cover drive, with the big stride forward, and the prettiest of them all - the whip through midwicket played so late and while so nimble on his toes.
He will be missed, as the great always are. He will see his children grow, take them to school, imbibe in them the reading habit (for he read more than most people I know and couldn't understand why others didn't), but from time to time he must tell the new flowers that will inevitably bloom in our cricket of the need to put grit over beauty, team over self, challenge before rejection, humility before arrogance, for that is what he stood for.
Well played, my friend. You have the honour of leaving the game richer with your legacy and none of us can ask for anything more than that.