Early Saturday morning and an Indian tabloid carried news that Rahul Dravid might be selected as part of the limited overs squad for the England series. I termed the story ridiculous while discussing it with a colleague, but then again taking into account what the selectors had done in the past, I didn’t put it past them.
In the late afternoon, the squad for the ODIs and one-off T20 was announced and true to form, India’s selectors justified just why they’re often referred to as a ‘bunch of jokers’. Rahul Dravid was named as part of the team for the 6 matches.
My first reaction was that of anger. How could a player like Rahul Dravid be treated that way? My colleague A R Hemant has summed up just why we all were aghast at the decision.
The other issue that I couldn’t get my head around was why Rahul agreed to be part of the team. Knowing the kind of cricketer and person he is, it just seemed impossible that he would be happy making a comeback into the ODI team after all these years and then being shuttled out as soon as India played on a pitch custom made for flat-tracked bullies (de ja vu 2009). Then it struck me that it had to be that the selectors didn’t even ask him if he would play and instead just went ahead and named him in the team.
I thought the perfect slap to their faces would be if Dravid on hearing the decision, declined to play in the series and clearly stated that he was long done with the shorter versions of the game. But I should have known better. He’s too much of a gentleman to do that – to turn his back on his team when they’ve declared their need or to consciously make someone look like a fool.
Instead he officially announced his retirement from ODIs and T20s at the end of the England series, but not without expressing his shock. Read between the lines of his announcement to the media made after the end of day’s play in Northampton, and you will be able to see just what the Indian legend is feeling:
“I’m honoured and privileged to be picked for the ODI side. Since I had not been picked for one-day cricket for the last two years, I was obviously a little surprised and to be honest, because I had not been picked, I had not informed the selectors or the board of my desire to solely focus on Test cricket.
At the end of this one-day series, I would like to announce my retirement from one-day and Twenty20 cricket and concentrate only on Test cricket. I am committed, as always to give my best to India in this one-day series and obviously the Test series that follows. In the short term I am committed because now I have been picked for the series, but in the long term I think it is best for me and Indian cricket that I focus on Test cricket”