Image Courtesy: Cricinfo
I wrote some parts of this post while the T20 match was going on against England and so my thoughts might seem a bit emotionally clouded and repetitive. My feelings varied from Dravid getting dropped from ODI’s to an almost running commentary of my Idol’s only T20I match. So I decided to make this post as a two part tribute, the other part will feature my feelings on the T20 match. But it is still a very honest and sincere attempt at expressing my love and support for my inspiration, The Wall.
At 38, my Idol Rahul Dravid is making his T20I debut, 15 years after he made his International debut which I vividly remember. He has already announced his retirement from the ODI’s and T20s so this match will be his first and his last ever T20I followed by his farewell ODI series.
This is a very unique statistic for Rahul; he announced his retirement even before he made his debut in the T20 format. Definitely a future trivia question for all Cricket quiz enthusiasts there. I will cherish each and every moment of my Idol’s farewell series. I thought I would never get to see Rahul play another ODI again, let alone a T20 match but I’m lucky enough to see that day come true and nothing makes me happier.
When Dravid was dropped from the ODI’s after an ordinary series against the Aussies in 2007, I was devastated. I thought his ODI career was pretty much over, he might never get a chance to play another ODI again. But two years later in 2009, my hopes were re-kindled when he was picked for the Compaq Cup and the Champions Trophy which was to be held in South Africa. Mainly due to the poor showing of the youngsters in the team who were unable to play the short ball on bouncy wickets outside the sub-continent. So due to the technique or the lack of it from the “youngsters” in the team, they had to summon the old guard again. So Rahul Dravid comes to the rescue. In spite of more than a decent batting performance where his scores read 14, 47, 39, 76 and 4 in his five innings and he was also called to open in the Compaq Cup final. Despite his good showing in bowler-friendly South African tracks he was again axed from the team unceremoniously. Because the next series was going to be held at home against the Aussies and the youngsters in the team were only flat-track bullies, so now Dravid’s services were no longer needed in the shorter format of the game.
Dravid was used and dropped from the team as if he was a tea bag thrown into a dustbin after every ounce of juice has been sucked from it. You cannot disrespect a player of Dravid’s caliber in that way. The manner in which he was dropped was downright disgusting and insulting. But Dravid – the Gentleman that he is never complained about it, just went about doing his work with same commitment and determination. His resolve is so strong that can never be broken with these petty insults.
As the countdown to the World Cup in 2011 kept getting closer, I kept losing hope of seeing my Idol wearing the Blue again one final time and lift the prestigious World Cup. As days went by, I finally realized that is never going to happen and Dravid will not be part of the One Day setup to play in the World Cup. I was obviously shattered but somehow made my peace with that. Even though we eventually won the World Cup after 28 long years, my happiness was bit muted because Dravid was not a part of it.
And now its déjà vu all over again, toured England as the No.1 Test team and got massacred by the English. The final score line read a humiliating 4-0 whitewash. This time it was not just because of the inability of our Batsmen to handle the short-pitched deliveries on bouncy wickets, it was also due to our toothless and one-dimensional bowling attack, dismal fielding and a truck load of injuries. It was a collective team failure. But one man stood out of the mediocrity and shone like a beacon, as always. The monumental effort by Dravid in the series, his sheer super human concentration, his courage, his determination, his commitment, his will power, his patience… I can go on and on but his performance just can’t be described in words. We were all so privileged to witness one of the greatest Test comebacks ever by a batsman. Dravid kept on fighting till the very end as others in the team disgraced themselves.
So it had to take such a super human performance by Dravid to make the dumb selectors recall him for the 5-match ODI series and the lone T20 match. But this time Dravid has had enough, he was not going to let them use him again at their will. So he immediately announced his retirement from the shorter formats of the game after this series on the same day he was recalled. Even though initially I was shocked but realized it was indeed the right decision as Dravid felt it was the right time to bow out from the shorter formats of the game on his own terms with his head held high.