By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
Dhaka: THE just-retired Rahul Dravid seems to draw awe not just from teammates, but from opponents as well.
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene — who is cut from the same cloth as the best ever Indian No. 3 Test batsman — says he and Dravid are great friends and that he could not see anything wrong in what Dravid did on and off the field during his 16-year-long international career.
"I rate him highly as an international cricketer as well as a great human being. He is a great friend. I have always had a lot of conversations with him on the game of cricket.
He is a very intelligent cricketer and what he has done is not just for Indian cricket, but also for international cricket – it’s amazing,” said Jayawardene, here for the Asia Cup beginning on Sunday, in an exclusive chat with MAIL TODAY.
Dravid, a former India captain, announced his retirement from first-class cricket in Bangalore on Friday, though he will represent the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL), probably for one last time in the Twenty20 tournament, starting next month.
Jayawardene, who himself possesses remarkable temperament, pointed out the other virtues of Dravid.
“The temperament, the way he approaches the discipline that he has... He has set high standards, and I am honoured to have played against him, and was part of an era where we all competed against each other,” he averred.
“It is obviously sad to see great players retiring. But that’s part of the game. And I wish all the very best to him in his future endeavours. I am sure I will catch up with him during the IPL when he will be playing for Rajasthan Royals for another year.”
Jayawardene also said that he learned a lot from Dravid during their long association.
“I have gelled with a lot of international cricketers; Rahul is just one of those guys. As I said, he’s an intelligent cricketer. When you talk to other players as well you learn a lot, and Rahul was one of those guys,” he said.
“You need different characters in world cricket and you always have those. I am very honoured to be part of an era of all these cricketers. Can’t say anything wrong in what Rahul did on and off the field. And that’s a great legacy to have as an international cricketer.”
Asked to recall some of the moments that he had spent with Dravid, the 34-year-old Jayawardene said that post-match conversations with the Indian were special.
“We have had remarkable encounters. When you come across great players like Rahul, you know you are going to have a tough time, always. But we competed really well against each other on the field." “ At the same time, we were good friends off the field as well. That’s the good thing about the game — when you always have a chat about what has happened."
"Those are the moments to be cherished for a long time,” the Sri Lanka skipper said.
Reproduced From Mail Today. Copyright 2012. MTNPL. All rights reserved.