WRITING ON THE WALL

Elegant, Solid, Defiant, Immovable, Steely, Resolute, Balanced, and Above all, an excellent human being…. Rahul Dravid was born today, 44 years ago in Indore to the Sharad and Pushpa Dravid. His father worked for NOGA, a company which produced India’s best sold Jams in the 1980s and 90s. Dravid was nicknamed Jammy, due to this in his school days, and the name stuck like jam on the slice of bread. Jams are sticky, and so was Jammy at the wicket. He graduated through the levels of cricket steadily, and eventually made his debut for India in the 1996 Lords test against England, along with the silken Sourav Ganguly. While Ganguly stroked his inroad into Test Cricket with a gorgeous 131 consisting 20 fours, Dravid kept defying the attack of Chris Lewis, Darren Gough, Peter Martin and Allan Mullaly with his bat coming down ramrod straight. He hit only six fours, and fell five runs short of a dream hundred on debut at Lords. And that would be the story of Rahul Dravid for some 2 years after his debut. He would defend, defend and defend, and not get out. Still, after he got his maiden hundred, (148) against the fiery attack of Donald, Shaun Pollock, Lance Klusener, Brian Mc Millan and Paul Adams, his next three figure score took over a year to come by. 118 against Zimbabwe. There were a lot of nineties though, and we fans thought that we have found another Chetan Chouhan, a perennial 90s man. Then everything changed. Centuries became a regular occurrence (36 of them) in case of Rahul Dravid, in all causes, won, lost and saved matches. And the common feature was, the man was immovable once he had his eye in and could launch a flurry of strokes, when the situation demanded acceleration. Dravid had arrived well, and had come to stay. He went on to become the fourth highest scorer of runs in Test Cricket, in the process being the cornerstone of Indian Batting lineup for 18 seasons. No mean feat that.

In the Batting line up which consisted of the Superb Sachin, Sublime Sourav, Languid Laxman, Dravid stood apart. He had partnerships with all of them, and pretty big ones too. Dravid was much the kingpin of the team, and he was the one who held the batting line up together. Fans and teammates nicknamed him the “WALL”. Immovable. However, he could be a combative batsman when the situation demanded and could tear any attack apart with his dazzling stroke-play. However, that was not his usual self. He revealed in stonewalling and wearing down the bowlers, so that the brilliant stroke-players could make mincemeat of them.

Dravid was a perfect team man, and had never shied away when asked to do any job which was not his.

Keep wickets?

Yes Skipper.

Open the batting ?

Sure Captain !

Keep one end intact?

I love to do that !

Need quick runs ?

I’ll get those man, No worries…

Naturally, he was every captain’s man Friday ! The go to man. And add to this his slip catching, as secure as a bank vault. No wonder, he holds the world record for the most number of catches in test cricket. A monumental 210 catches !

He is one of the most respected men in Cricket fraternity, due to his knowledge of the game, his astute observations, and his deep commitment to the development of the game. In spite of being considered for the prestigious job of the Coach for India’s international team, Dravid told the BCCI that he would be more interested in coaching the India A team and the Under 19 team. He knew that these were the feeding lines of the test team, and these need to be strengthened. And the outcomes are visible. K L Rahul, Jayant Yadav, Karun Nair, just to name a few.

An excellent orator too, he has delivered the Bradman Oration in 2011, which is one of the best speeches I have ever heard. Correct English, Excellent flow of speech, witty quips, and still not digressing from the subject. The perfect speech. Much like the man delivering it. Everything correct, smooth and sound.

He is 44 today, 56 short of a hundred. I see no reason why he shouldn’t get there, and enrich the Gentleman’s game.

He is well set, and still plays the innings of life with a straight bat.

Happy Birthday Rahul Dravid !

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