Rahul Dravid on Wednesday, Dec 14 became the first Indian to deliver a speech at Sir Donald Bradman Oration in Canberra.
You can watch the whole speech here:
Well, my thoughts on my Idol's awe-inspiring speech at the 2011 Sir Donald Bradman Oration might have come a day or two late. That's only because I was left completely speechless by Rahul's amazing oratory skills, his dignity, his modesty, his integrity, his humility, his pride, his knowledge about the game and its history, his wittiness, his meticulously chosen words, his thoughtful and considered observations... well just about everything. It was an absolutely brilliant speech, one of the most compelling and insightful speeches I have ever listened to by a sportsman. It took me almost a day to recover from that awesomeness, so I finally started to jot down my thoughts about that speech.
Humbled as Dravid was for being the first foreigner to deliver the Sir Donald Bradman Oration speech at The War Memorial in Canberra held every year to celebrate the life and career of the greatest Cricketer to have ever played the game, Sir Donald Bradman.
He started off by talking about the bond between India and Australia which goes beyond Cricket pitches. Much before Indians and Australians were competitors on the pitch, they were comrades off it who fought wars together. Dravid also took some time to remember the unknown soldiers from both countries who laid down their lives in the war.
Next, Dravid spoke about how the great Don who never having played a single Test match in India still is the most venerated Cricketer. Later he went on to share some anecdotes and fun stories about Bradman, some of it were very witty and had the audience in splits.
Bradman passed away on Feb 25, 2001 just two days before the historic Test series between India and Australia were to begin. Dravid thought Bradman would have loved to watch that series which is now considered as one of the greatest ever in the history of Cricket.
Dravid continued to talk about the India-Australia rivalry over the past decade which Australia dominated. He said India was the only team to stand up to the Aussie domination and the quality of Cricket played between two sides has been uplifting and exhilarating and also sometimes controversial. And hence whenever the two sides meet the anticipation and expectation is immense. And so in the coming two months of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, players on both sides will want to deliver their best.
|“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” |
Image Courtesy: Google Images
Now let’s glance upon some of the issues that Dravid touched upon:
“At the moment, to much of the outside world, Indian cricket represents only two things - money and power.”
He chose to speak about how Indian Cricket which is perceived by the outside world as only representing two things, Money and Power. He said this one-dimensional, often clichéd image relentlessly repeated is not what Indian cricket is really all about. Rahul gave quite a few anecdotes and explained how the wealth generated by Indian Cricket by million-dollar deals and television rights had actually transformed the game of princes and well-to-do businessmen into that of the people, whatever their language, background or financial standing. This was beautifully demonstrated by an illustration of diversity now found within the Indian dressing room. He compared Indian Cricket’s growth in the past 10 to 15 years with that of the country itself. Due to the revenues generated since the past two decades, the standard of play has improved and so has the facilities and the game has spread to various other parts of the country and not just the big cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi etc. Dravid gave examples of some success stories like Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag, Munaf Patel and Umesh Yadav who have made it big and have earned a place in the Indian side, coming from small towns with no proper facilities.
“India has played 227 ODI's at home; the October five-match series against England was the first time that the grounds have not been full for an ODI featuring the Indian team.”
Rahul also touched on many other relevant issues concerning the game of Cricket including dwindling of crowds in International Cricket, which in his words has reached an "alarming" state in the past few years. The reason for it being flaws in scheduling of Cricket matches, unnecessary ODI's being played which don't have any context. Or maybe it was spectator-fatigue. Whatever the reason maybe, he said the fans have sent a clear message and it’s high time something needs to be done to rectify it. He also explained how empty stands do not make for good television viewing, which in turn will affect the television ratings. And the fall in ratings will make the advertisers eventually looking elsewhere. He said it’s really important to give the average Cricket fan what he deserves; disrespecting them is like disrespecting the game itself.
“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.”
Next he spoke about another important aspect of the game which is bringing the game down, corruption. In-spite of strong anti-corruption measures, the internet and other modern technologies will always be a step ahead of any anti-corruption regulation. So, Dravid suggested that the onus should be on the players themselves to be willing to be monitored and regulated closely even if it means giving up a little bit of freedom of movement and privacy. He also suggested players not to say no to dope tests and also undergoing lie-detector tests as an option to tackle corruption. It would certainly help the innocent come clean.
“Charting out a clear road map for all the three formats is a challenge.”
Dravid next touched upon another important aspect of the game that is balancing all the three formats of the game. He explained how a series containing 2 Tests, 7 ODI’s and a few Twenty20’s thrown in will only hinder the true development of the player and also throw the scheduling completely off gear.
“No one ever fell in love with Test cricket because they wanted to be a businessman. Not everything of value comes at a price.”
He stressed Test Cricket is the gold standard and the bests of the game know this is the format their greatness as a Cricketer will be judged by. And so, Test Cricket needs to be protected. He suggested a few measures in this regard:
1) Day-Night Tests
2) Test Championship
3)Taking the game to smaller cities or playing in grounds which have smaller capacity
4) Or maybe reviving some old Cricket venues
He also called for cutting down on the number of ODI’s played which don’t have much context, rather he suggested the focus should be on the main ICC Tournaments like the World Cup and the Champions Trophy. This would ensure that all 50-over matches would build up for those tournaments and will also cut down on the number of ODI’s played. The matches which will be played will also have a context.
For Twenty20’s Dravid said it has its best place as a contest between domestic teams or clubs. A view shared by many dignitaries in the crowd including the Cricket Australia Chairmen, past and present.
Before concluding, Dravid said, it was still possible to feel the same rush of excitement that accompanied his first boundary, first catch, or first victory. He said every Cricketer should cherish it and hang on to it.
After enthralling the audience for over 40 minutes with a wide range of topics like issues of money, attendances, formats and corruption, everyone rose to applaud a brilliant and insightful speech on the spirit of Cricket by a Legend whose oratory skills are as classy and masterful as his batting itself.