March 14,2001. A day that changed the face of Indian cricket. Let alone face, it was the stepping stone for a change from the traditional 'surrender meekly when you are down' attitude. Today it's been 11 years since that epic day of test match cricket at the Eden gardens. Two supreme individuals fought for their team, for their country. A trait that was hardly seen over decades of Indian cricket. Yes..fighting it out. The fight continued to bear sweet fruits of success in the succeeding years. And when we say fight, 5 days back the fight indeed came to an end. An abrupt end it was, but it finally had to. Not in the manner everyone would have thought, not in the manner even Rahul Dravid would have hoped to.
In this period of 5 days, I have had a recollection of so many wonderful memories of the sweet Indian victories he orchestrated and also those for which he built the foundation for, but was somehow overshadowed by other performances. Yes...getting overshadowed. No one likes that, is it not ? More so when we strive to the best of our ability or sometimes even beyond to achieve things. But Dravid was one man who never made a fuss about those things. Finally the end result was what mattered, and he would walk through anything as long as things would be for the Indian Cricket Team's benefit.
The Indian National Cricket Team...Sounds to be similar to a pick up line from a famous Hindi movie. For Rahul Dravid, everything else came later, after it. And that was something he carried with pride. He was named 'The Wall' for various reasons. His defence, technique, fortitude...
various traits that he was uniquely known for. For me, meaning of 'THE WALL' was for the sacrifices he made. 'The Wall' was a boundary which ensured that the respect of the team was always kept at a high stature for the eyes outside and also prevented any negative winds of thought from creeping into the harmonious setup.
Anger has seldom been man's best friend. And Dravid so fiercely advocated it- on the field,by never compromising on the cricket he played and also off the field, by NEVER reacting to any remark directed at him with inappropriate intentions. Although the one occasion that stands out, which could be an exception is the reaction during that breathtaking revival at Kolkata. The picture which is put up as the face of this blog stands on top of the list of my Rahul Dravid memories.
After all, that was an anger that led to a career revival..
An anger that led a cricketing nation which was staring down the abyss, towards glory and success...
An anger that was simply selfless....
Many say he is one of the greatest role models for the younger generation. If Dravid himself were to have some expectations that someone will be like him in the future, there is a good chance he would be disappointed. There is no way that someone can match up to even half of what he did and in the way he did. Especially looking at the way the game is played today and level of desire to succeed that the youngsters possess in comparison. The great Steven Waugh was an exemplary role model and in all respects should be one proud individual to have seen someone like him from a different cricketing nation and from a tough rival team. For all we know, Dravid being chosen to write the foreword of Waugh's autobiography and Steve's gesture of 'your words mean a lot to me', is a fine testimonial.
Even when he left, he left us with a message and with assurance that the future is not so bleak. He said 'I was nowhere near as talented as the young 23-year olds of today'. It simply speaks volumes about the man's humility and wisdom. By the statement, he has not only humbly downplayed his achievements but also ensured that it can encourage the youngsters. On one thought though, that was probably more in optimism than realistic deduction. And optimism was one thing that Dravid had in abundance, because he knew that not being supremely talented, he had to have bucket-loads of positive thought.16 years...16 fabulous years of high class career is what has unfolded on the strong foundations of patience and positive attitude.
So true with his character, he did not choose any celebratory moment or something like a victory lap on the shoulders of his illustrious team mates. He was not brought into the cricketing world with kid gloves, nor with any godfather's backing. The end also came in a similar way.
Fight hard to gain entry, fight hard to exist, fight hard to sustain and also leave...fighting.
More or less akin to the way the Heart functions in a body. It continuously pumps blood to the entire system, and runs all along the duration of a human being's life span. Not even for a single moment, does it say 'I am tired, I need a break'. If it does so, then the repercussions of it are well known. Yes, sometimes scientific replacements can get a heart to keep functioning, but the body will not be the same again.
Such was the stuff Rahul Dravid was made of. The heart of Indian cricket has now stopped pumping. And life will never be the same again..........