Friday, March 9, 2012

An Ode to the Wall

A bit of cricket for a change.
I wrote this for my Facebook page, cross posting here for preservation,
- Rahul.

RD hitting the winning runs in the Adelaide test of 2004. With some modifications done by yours truly.

Just Another Brick in the Wall

For 16 years Indian cricket has been used to a familiar sight. It is that of a batsman coming in to bat at No 3, with a near perfect stance, concentration etched on his face, head steady, elbow pointing towards the bowler, assured footwork, bat coming down straight to meet the ball at perfect angles and the disappointed grimace of the bowler walking back to his mark.
The description alone is enough to paint the picture of Rahul Sharad Dravid in the heart of most cricket lovers. It is a sight that has signified dependence, solidity and most importantly fighting spirit for a generation of cricket watchers. That era has now ended.

Rahul Dravid announced his retirement from all forms of cricket today. For one of India's greatest ever cricketers, a low-key retirement at the end of a disaster tour down under is much, much less than what he deserves.
His fans hoped that he would bow out on a high note but in some small way it is symbolic of Dravid's career as a cricketer. For years Dravid had an uncanny knack of bringing out his best performance in the same match where a teammate put in an even better one.
Consider :
* 145 V SL in a World Cup match
* 153 V NZ Hyd
* 180 V Aus in what is probably the greatest test match in history.
* 95 V Eng on debut in seaming conditions
and many more.
What do all these have in common ? There was always a Ganguly or a Tendulkar or a Laxman at the other end who ended up getting all the limelight.

Forget the fact that he got his top scores on a more consistent basis, usually in more trying situations; the recognition usually went to his more glamorous teammates. Not that he was one to complain, ever the team-man, he was happy as long as India was winning.

RD belongs to what history would remember as one of India's finest generation of cricketers, in the 5 pandavas -- Tendulkar, Kumble, Ganguly, Laxman and Dravid, India finally found a nucleus for a team that could win battles on foreign soil. Dravid's slow burning brilliance and steady determination complemented his more adventurous teammates each of whom brought their own unique flavour to the team.

While Dravid's cricket playing days might be over, I for one believe he can contribute much more outside the cricket field as well. I had touched upon his impressive command on the happenings in the world in an earlier post on the Bradman Oration. To someone as capable even outside cricket, retirement from cricket is just another stepping stone in the wall's story, destined to ever greater heights.

10-15 years from now we would look back to today and quote Pink Floyd,
"All in all it was just another brick in the wall".

Here's to 'The Wall' !
On a more personal note, with RD hanging up his shoes today all the cricketing heroes I had growing up are riding on into the sunset. The feeling is indescribable.

Siddharth Vaidyanathan's article when Ganguly retired certainly strikes a chord somewhere. 
Read on :

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