Officer and a Gentleman

Posted: March 9, 2012 in cricket
Tags: , , , , , ,

It took 16 long years and a retirement announcement for Rahul Dravid to finally upstage Sachin Tendulkar.

And now as one cricketing great steps into the sunset, the spotlight has turned on the two veterans – Tendulkar and VVS Laxman – who were till recently the Big Three of Indian cricket.

To be honest, technically Rahul Dravid was better than anyone else in the team. Dravid, at the risk of blaspheming, I would say he was even better than Tendulkar in that department. Any school boy who wanted to learn how to be technically correct, only had to watch Dravid. It’s his misfortune that he played in an era where every other player, in India or elsewhere, was dwarfed by the Little Master. Whether it was Dravid, Ricky Ponting, Brian Lara, Inzaman-ul-Haq…just about anyone else, they were always considered second best in comparison to Sachin.

Just like during the era of Sunil Gavaskar there was Gundappa Vishwanath, who many considered more talented than the original Little Master, but who (many including Gavaskar felt) never really realised his true potential. Even though Vishwanath began his career a season before Gavaskar, it was the latter who dwarfed him since then after his stupendous debut against the West Indies. And while Vishwanth produced classic knocks around the world’s cricket grounds against all forms of opposition, it was invariably Gavaskar who walked away with the accolades, and one who the team depended on when the chips were down.

The case of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar runs along similar lines. When Sachin bats every Indian’s heart in his mouth, because one never knows when the guy is going to do something silly. With Dravid around one was pretty sure that he would steady the innings and rarely make a false stroke. If he did, it would be met with incredulous silence. If Dravid was at the other end, it was a comforting factor. But at the end of the day it was Tendulkar who stole a march! Until today!

Speaking to a veteran Indian Test cricketer today about Dravid’s announcement, the talk veered around to the retirement of Tendulkar and the veteran shook his head sadly. He said Dravid was an educated, erudite man of many talents and could do a lot more beyond cricket. Tendulkar on the other hand didn’t know anything else except playing cricket. Probably that’s what was making the little man not contemplate retirement, felt this veteran.

It’s what he said next that made my ears perk up. It was sad to see Sachin getting hit on the head and elsewhere by the opposition bowlers so often, he said. Also, he was caught wrong-footed quite often. This showed that Sachin’s reflexes had slowed down a lot and, maybe, his eyesight wasn’t the same as before, he opined.

This gentleman who has followed Tendulkar’s game closely since the latter’s school days, opined that it was time Sachin also called it a day. “What does he have to prove anymore? Will it matter if he doesn’t get that 100th century? Will it make him any less a player he already is? He is beginning to lose the respect of a lot of senior cricketers by hanging on to his place.”

Now with the decision to retire at a rather emotional announcement in Bangalore, Rahul Dravid’s stature as a player and a gentleman has gone up quite a few notches. Who’s next?

  1. Manoj Bandivadekar says:

    Good write up. God bless RD.

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