He never was India's no.1 batsman and never can be. He was and shall remain India's no.3 batsman.
He was India's best no.3! Ever!
It's the end of an era. The wall has left. Rahul Dravid has retired from all domestic and international cricket for good. He leaves behind what is a Rahul Dravid of a hole! 16 glorious years of Test cricket, One Day cricket and a one-off T20. He has given us infinite memorable moments.
223* at Adelaide, 180 At Kolkata, 145 at Taunton, that quickfire 53 off 22 balls, those two slam-bam towering sixes in his only T20 appearance! The man has time and again done what many other greats could not. Face the toughest of situations with a straight bat. From once being labelled as a Test-match only cricketer to being picked up in the T20 side in 2011, to scoring India's second fastest fifty to captaining the side to wins in Pakistan and West Indies to keeping wickets in 2002-03 just to get the balance right and play with an extra batsman. Rahul, err...Sir Rahul Dravid has done and seen each and everything he could in his tenure as a cricketer for India.
I remember how at one point of time, kids playing in the building would ridicule batsman who played slowly by calling them Rahul Dravid. It was a synonym for batsman who cannot score runs quickly. It is very important in building cricket to be able to score runs quickly. To not waste any balls and get off strike if you cannot hit the big ones.
From that to now any player who can give a straight bat to the fastest delivery hurled at you and manage to drop it dead right next to the bat and be called Rahul Dravid and be respected for it, things have come a long way. Tables have turned. From being hated for 'boring' people in Test Matches to people longing for guys like him in the team.
I remember how I myself would look at Sir Rahul Dravid when he would come to the crease and score his 152 ball-50! He would bring the run-rate down from 4+ to just hovering around 3. He would tire the bowlers by showing them the 'Britannia' bat! Only for players like Sachin, Mongia, Sehwag, Azharuddin, etc to run amok in the last session and the last hour before end of day's play. Who will do that now?
A lot of the Indian fans must be wondering who will take his place and who will survive in tough situations like the ones we have faced in England, West Indies, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Do we have any batsman half as talented as Sir Rahul Dravid? We are scared to admit but we will be worried every time a new no.3 steps out on the crease. We will all secretly are waiting for his son to be big enough to be taller than the stumps and willing to play for the national team.
He has got statistics all on his side, 164 tests, 13288 runs, 210 catches in tests, 10,000+ runs in ODIs, 93 test appearances without a break, and the list goes on and on and on. One list which he most definitely is not the most proud of must be the nervous 90s list. In his early days in Test cricket, Sir Rahul Dravid would often get out in the 90s. Not that he had a fear for them or would act nervous and edgy, but it just was so that he was too unlucky at times. At one point of time he had 9 90 plus scores and had equalled Steve Waugh for the batsman with the most 90s.
The fact that he did end up getting 36 is a testimony to the patience and perseverance of this guy. Add those 9 90 plus scores which so easily could have been hundreds and you have a number that is even more impressive.
Well, we can go on and on about his achievements and his victorious knocks and memorable matches. And to be frank there are hundreds of writers who will do that. Taking a note out of Sir Rahul Dravid's book I shall call it quits before someone else asks me to stop.
Thanks a lot for all those concentration-filled hours you spent at the crease and made me feel as if I was part of that fight India was putting up. Thanks for the amazing cover drives that give me the goosebumps even now. Thanks for those pullshots that I shall use one day to teach my son how to play the shot better than what the coaches and books can ever teach. Thanks for those straight bat defence shots which I try and emulate in my room to a invisible ball and yet get it wrong. Thanks for the moment when you decided to don the gloves just so that India can have a well balanced team and can pose a threat to the world. Thanks for showing us how without saying a word, without chirping from the slips, without arguing with the bowler you can still be as aggressive. You can still be as respected. You can still be as feared.
And mostly thanks for making the defense shot the most aggressive shots ever! Sir Rahul Dravid...LEGEND! 'Enough said!