The Little Master’s big brother

So it’s farewell then Rahul Dravid – one of India’s all-time greats has packed up his international kit for the last time and walked off into the sunset (or the IPL more like). ‘The Wall’ has been dismantled, but have we underestimated Dravid’s contribution to Indian cricket?

Dravid has always slightly suffered from being seen as the poor relation of his generation of Indian batsmen. Not as explosive as Sehwag; not as fluent as Tendulkar; lacking Laxman’s flair and supple wrists. Perhaps because his batting could be plodding at times, perhaps because he never quite looked the part of a professional sportsman or perhaps just because Sachin stole too much of the limelight, you feel that it’s only now that Dravid has gone that India will realise how much they depended on him. In many respects, he has the beating of his more extravagant brothers.

Don’t get me wrong, Dravid has had plenty of recognition over the years – it’s fairly hard not to notice someone who bats for the length of time he did – but he’s always been the other one, the one whose place never seemed to be under threat, or whose technique never seemed to be scrutinsed to the extent that others’ was. He was just there. All the time. And in the blink of an eye, he became the most prolific Number 3 in Test history, and second only to Tendulkar in terms of career average for Indians (minimum 20 Tests).

However, I think now is the time to put forward the possibly heretical proposition that Dravid has probably been a more important cog in the Indian Test machine over the years than Tendulkar. In over 22 years of Test cricket, Tendulkar has never once batted at the pivotal Number 3 position for India in Tests, whereas Dravid did it 219 times, only occasionally dropping down to accommodate a nightwatchman or the ill-fated attempts to expose Laxman’s dodgy footwork to the newer ball. More often than he would have liked, Dravid was forced to open due to injury or illness to one of the regulars, most notably last summer in England, when in five innings as opener he calmly knocked off two centuries as the rest of the batting order imploded around him. Often coming in early, he was solidity itself – an almost impossible man to crowbar from the crease (of those 219 innings at 3, only 8 were ducks). The platforms he gave India meant that Tendulkar was often freer to come in and do his thing. Without Dravid, who knows whether Sachin would have been nearly successful as he has been?

When you add to that 210 catches, the vast majority of which came in the slips, the occasional stand-in role as wicketkeeper (a role he fulfilled more regularly in one day cricket) as well as 25 matches as captain, you see a great cricketer emerging. Clearly the time had come to retire – when someone nicknamed ‘The Wall’ starts to have a defence more reminiscent of the average club number 11, you know his eyes aren’t what they were. At least he was able to choose his time to go.

I sincerely hope that Dravid doesn’t get overlooked as one of the great batsmen of his era, or indeed of any era. The exciting, aggressive batsman has his place, but every team needs a player or two who embodies the attitude of ‘nobody notices what I do until I don’t do it’. Dravid was just that, and India will have some job finding a replacement half as good.

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2 Comments

  1. good read…here’s more to the great man Dravid… http://bizzareness.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/the-farewall/ have a read

    Reply
  2. Perhaps the greatest #3 in cricket, along with Ponting. 🙂

    Reply

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