Calcutta, (The Telegraph): India's most successful Test captain, Sourav Ganguly, spoke to The Telegraph on Friday, exclusively on Rahul 'Jammie' Dravid.
The following are excerpts:
Has Dravid timed his decision well?
It's difficult for me or for anybody else to assess the timing of somebody's retirement...It's a huge decision and means everything to a sportsman...All I'd say is that Rahul has made the right decision.
You were, then, expecting it now?
How tough was it for you to retire from international cricket (in November 2008)?
Very hard...I went through a number of sleepless nights...A sportsman loves his trade, loves his career...It means everything to him, it's so close to his heart...It's tough deciding to actually call it a day.
What has been Dravid's biggest contribution?
The generation Rahul played with helped change the face of Indian cricket...We started to win consistently overseas, became almost unbeatable at home... Rahul played such an important role, contributing monumental runs.
Where would you place Dravid among the all-time great batsmen?
That's a tough one...Suffice to say that Rahul will be hailed as an all-time great.
Did Dravid 'suffer' because, right through his career, he had to play in Sachin Tendulkar's shadow?
Don't think so...Cricket is a team sport and Rahul must be happy that he got to play alongside Sachin and some of the others.
The two of you made your Test debut together (Lord's, 1996)...What were your first impressions of Dravid?
I first saw Rahul in the Ranji Trophy...He had the talent...So many have the skill, but fail to translate that into a meaningful career...Rahul did so...Look at his longevity and the number of runs. He made use of his talent and worked hard.
At random, the stand-out innings of Dravid...
His 180 at Eden Gardens (against Australia, in 2001), the 148 at Headingley (2002), the 233 in Adelaide (2003), the 270 in Rawalpindi (2004)...There were others, too...Between 2001-05, Rahul batted as well as anybody in Test cricket.
Did Dravid under-achieve in ODIs?
No...How can you say that? Rahul scored over 10,000 runs in ODIs, that's a huge number.
Dravid came across as the quintessential team man, didn't he?
Rahul was a complete team man...Did what was asked of him.
You were the India captain when the match-fixing scandal broke (April 2000)...Dravid was part of the core group which ensured a clean dressing room...
Yes and, in particular, I must be thankful to the other seniors as well...That was a different generation, some call it the golden generation...I hope Indian cricket sees another generation like that.
Frankly, do we have an adequate replacement? Till Virat Kohli's hundred in the Adelaide Test, we were all wondering who'd do justice to the No.6 position vacated by you...Just where do we stand?
That time will tell...We'll have to give opportunities and, possibly, have to wait a year or so (for a settled No.3).
Moving away a little...Dravid and you were very good friends, then the relationship appeared to get strained when you lost the captaincy to him...How would you describe the bonding today?
I wouldn't say that our relationship ever got strained...Yes, I did get dropped when Rahul was the captain, but that was because of (coach) Greg Chappell...I was disappointed at that point in time, but understood the reasons (why Dravid went along with Chappell).
Dravid quit the captaincy after being in the saddle full-time for just two years. Do captains have a shelf life?
They do, but it varies from captain to captain.
Do you intend calling up Dravid?
I'll be sending him an SMS.
Shouldn't Dravid be kept involved with Indian cricket?
Of course...Rahul's experience should be utilised, after he's had some time away from the game.
In what capacity?
That's for the Board to decide...Right now, Rahul should just be a good father to Samit and Anvay!
When could the two of you meet next?
Most certainly in Dubai, later this month, when we're supposed to play for the MCC in two T20 matches.
Finally, now, looks like it's VVS Laxman's turn to retire...
Don't see it too far away.