Make no mistake, Rahul Dravid will be ranked among the greats in one-day cricket as well. He doesn’t need anybody’s certificate for that. His record, 10,765 runs in 339 ODIs, is a testament to his achievements.
Initially, he struggled a bit to maintain a good strike rate. But gradually he adjusted to the demands of one-day cricket and became a vital cog in the Indian team that played some terrific cricket in the last decade.
Frankly, I was a little surprised to see his name in the team for the ODI series in England. Dravid himself has said that he was surprised to hear about his recall. Maybe the selectors have taken their decision considering the English conditions, but I don’t know how logical it was to bring back someone who played his last one-day international two years ago.
Never for once am I doubting Dravid’s ability to succeed in the one-dayers in England. I always believe that if you have a solid foundation you can do well in any format of the game. A player as technically sound as Dravid can score runs even after a two-year hiatus and in England, you have to play proper cricketing shots to score runs.
Now that he is in the team, he will feature in the playing XI and I am sure he will adjust his game to the needs of limited overs cricket. In any case, he has been playing in the IPL and scoring runs opening the innings. Skill is the last word in cricket and needless to say Dravid has plenty of that.
People often say Dravid hasn’t received the adulation he deserves. But he was always happy to do his job quietly. A great human being and the quintessential team man, his contribution to cricket is second to none. He donned the wicketkeeping gloves for the team’s sake. He was always game to open the innings or drop down the order according to the situation. Greatness is not measured by the number of commercials one features in, but the respect one commands among his peers and in the dressing room. Very few players can transcend geographical and cultural barriers and become a global role model. Dravid is among that rare group of cricketers.
His retirement from limited-overs cricket too has come as a surprise to many. I don’t want to comment on that. A legend has called time on his own terms and I am happy for that. He now wants to concentrate solely on Test cricket and we must respect his decision.
Great players are entitled to decide their own future. Dravid, Sachin and Laxman still are the cornerstones of Indian batting. It has always been a joy to watch them. The longer they play, the better it is for the game. Together they have taken India to the peak of world cricket. They are the holy trinity of Indian cricket and perfect role models to every youngster who aspires to play for the country.
(As told to Shamik Chakrabarty)
Bouquets & brickbats
* “Dravid’s technique is very good, and on difficult wickets he comes really into his own. He is one player who can play 50 overs. India need that kind of player right now, especially after what has happened in the first two Test matches. Most of the young players in the Indian team do not have much experience of playing on seaming wickets. Experience is the need of the hour. Anyway, I do not think the Indian selectors had any choice in the matter.”
— Wasim Akram
* “I keep him in the class of Sachin Tendulkar. Both of them can play as long as they are fit and in form. Dravid has been an unsung hero for Indian cricket. He is very focused about his fitness. We are already behind in the Test series. This is not the right time to experiment. It would have been an Herculean task for any youngster to go there and perform while Dravid is already there and doing well. He has proved that he still has it in him otherwise why would the selectors call him? He has an excellent record in ODIs as well and has scored more than 10000 runs.”
— Anshuman Gaekwad
* “He has not played a single ODI for two years. Rather than taking a step backward, the selection panel should have given any youngster a chance. There are so many young and talented batsmen who have been performing well in domestic circuit. They are not interested in trying new players. The same lot have been repeated again and again. How would we get the likes of Dhonis and Rainas to prepare the future team?”
— Kiran More
* “He is looking quite fit now and he is the only one who is performing in England. The Indian team needs his experience at this time to get stability in the middle-order.”
— Chandu Borde