A tribute to The Wall- Rahul Dravid .

The day is June 20,1996. The setting being the 1st innings of an interestingly poised 2nd test between England and India at the Lords Cricket Ground. An occasion that can be overwhelming for the most seasoned of cricketers. But not for the young, shy and unassuming man who walks up to the crease -as the scoreboard reads 202/5- for the first time ever in international cricket. At the opposite end was a man- himself a debutant- who was playing like a dream. The two of them then get together and craft a symphony, the sounds of which still echo in the ears of the passionate cricket fan.

The shy, unassuming man- Rahul Sharad Dravid- since that day has stylishly,doggedly and like the man that he is, non-fussily made his way into cricketing folklore. A man who every time that he was written off, came back in a gladiatoral fashion. A man of few airs and fewer words still, he has amassed a mountain of runs, second only to another feted player of his time, maybe all time, Sachin Tendulkar. A man who in terms of stature and achievements is every bit immortal like his more feted contemporaries, yet in many ways was the most mortal amongst the lot, for his was probably the blood that was bayed for the most after every collective failure.

Although his final battle, a rare forgettable one, was against Australia, it can be said that his swan song was fittingly against England in England, a home away from home for he has enjoyed immense success in both Tests and ODIs there. The 2011 series, although disastrous for the team, was a personal success for Dravid. A dream of being part of the hallowed portal of centurions at Lords was finally fulfilled after 15 long years, an achievement he excruciatingly narrowly missed in his debut attempt, an achievement that other mortals can only dream of and one which many legends themselves haven’t achieved.

Feats such as being the world’s 2nd highest Test runs scorer, world record for the maximum number Test catches by a non-wicketkeeper, 2nd longest consecutive streak of test matches played, involved in the highest number of century partnerships in Tests, 10000+ runs in the two premier formats of the game, to name a few, have without doubt placed Dravid on the highest pedestal.

His cricketing performances are truly a legacy for the next generation. The stylish shots that he played are lessons on batsmanship, the runs that he scored, the matches that he won for India are all up there among the best, yet the greatest legacy that he leaves behind are virtues like an unwavering commitment to one’s duty, loyalty towards a greater, collective cause, humility towards one’s craft, nothing but respect for adversaries and above all, an unflinching passion, respect and love for the game.

I consider my generation (all 80’s born) to be fortunate for having witnessed an ordinary man perform extraordinary feats.┬áToday, as Dravid bids adieu to an illustrious career spanning 16 glorious years, a sense of foreboding prevails, not just whether anyone else can fill the great man’s shoes but also whether the glory days for Indian Cricket in general will return. But as in nature, where one generation will ultimately be replaced by another, Indian Cricket will also welcome its new generation pretty soon. But only time will tell whether or not the legacy of such heroes will be carried forward.

As Rahul Dravid prepares to take guard for a new innings in his life, we would like to wish him the very best. Hope this one turns out to be as equivalently long, special and illustrious as his previous one.