So what makes people stand up for a cricketer like Rahul Dravid when there are many others who are more gifted? There’s an episode of the television drama series ‘Bones’ where the lead protagonist – a female forensic anthropologist who solves murders, says this about her male FBI partner-
“Anthropology teaches us that the alpha male is the man wearing the crown, displaying the most colorful plumage and the shiniest baubles. He stands out from the others. But I now think that anthropology may have it wrong. In working with Booth, I've come to realize that the quiet man, the invisible man, the man who's always there for friends and family... that's a real alpha male. And I promise my eyes will never be caught by those shiny baubles again.”
For me, those words could have well been written for Rahul Sharad Dravid. The cricket community and it’s legion of fans never failed to recognise that Rahul was special. But there was always a catch. Dravid was always thebridesmaid and never the bride.
The world may have had its more talented, swashbuckling favourites. The ones who walked with a swagger, who jumped out of the crease and hit into the stands, who played to the galleries and knew they were thebest. But since the day I spotted Rahul Dravid walk out onto the field, he’s been the one and only person I’ve proudly proclaimed as my idol.
And he’s never let me down. There have been others in the sport who may have played the game with more craft, but you will struggle to find a better role model than Rahul Dravid. He is not the world’s greatest cricketer. He is the however the greatest man to have played cricket. He recognises the influence cricketers have on the game’s followers and is conscious of never letting anyone down.
As a cricket journalist over the past year and half, I’ve tried to refrain from writing about my idol for fear that I wouldn’t be able to be objective. But today, I realize that objectivity is over-rated — after all, the true impact of sport is how it impacts each one of us. So today, I write of my idol, from my mind and heart — because he is, after all, the reason I chose to follow the sport and more, he is the reason I today am what I am, as person and as journalist.
In a sport that is increasingly associated with terms like fixing, betting, finger-gate, and financial impropriety, Rahul Dravid has helped many like me to live in hope of a better tomorrow.
In the foreward to Steve Waugh’s autobiography, Dravid very aptly wrote that Waugh had given grit a good name. As he himself hangs his boots, the best tribute I can pay to him is – Rahul Dravid, you’re the man who has given cricket a good name.
With Rahul retiring from Test cricket today, there is no doubt that I will shed a tear (or more), but like a line from ‘The Wonder Years’ goes - Some heroes pass through your life and disappear in a flash. You get over it. But the good ones, the real ones, the ones who count - stay with you for the long haul.
Today, Rahul exits the stage he has graced for 15 years; he puts a period on accomplishments that are unparalleled. And today, I realize that he is not going anywhere; that Rahul Dravid belongs to that rare class of man who will stay with me for the long haul.
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Rahul Dravid: End of an era