Dravid: A man more than his cricket
By Vineet.Sharma Jan 10, 2013 5:26PM
The boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle's wreck
Shone round him o'er the dead----by Felicia Hemans
Trivial pursuits in life can make you arrogant. An expensive car, bigger than your neighbours, or a sprawling bungalow in the most happening part of the city, for that matter, even that sleek new iPad can get into your head.
That is why in an age where success is increasingly connected to the clothes one wears and the gadgets one carries, and where, being aggressive is often taken as being strong and being courteous means being soft, it is important to appreciate a man like Rahul Dravid.
He sits on a mountain of runs, victories, landmarks, awards, praise, respect and yes, big money too; but Dravid has not for once been anything but a humble cricketer. You don't need to know about the countless charities he has contributed to or the hundreds of times he would have given away his gloves and bat to a kid. You don't need to know him personally to find out if he is a real person, without the manufactured halo which we so easily find in lesser men.
In his 16-year old career, Dravid kept wickets so that India could accommodate an extra batsmen or a bowler. He opened despite being uncomfortable with the task. He played ODIs at the whims and fancies of selectors. Yet, never once did he indulge in finger pointing. Yes, as his wife, Vijeeta, wrote in an article on Cricinfo, Dravid did have his one weak moment, when angry after an ODI loss to England, he threw a chair in disgust. But we can afford to overlook this rare bit of fragility in times where press conferences are used to take pot-shots at colleagues.
In his glittering career, Dravid never made a fuss over an unfair umpiring decision and tried to pull his batting partner towards the pavilion in retaliation. Never did he find a reason to vent his fury on the dressing room TV. Nor did he find cricketing life so unbearable as to turnaround and show the middle-finger to the crowd. Dravid's greatness is not only about runs, it is the sum total of runs plus impeccable conduct.
Sport is about victories, defeats and the frustrating moments in-between. What you do in times of despair defines your personality. Imagine Virat Kohli falling five runs short of a maiden Test century at Lord's. You know what his reaction will be, whatever it'll be; you can guarantee that it'll be laced with expletives. And what did Dravid do. He just walked off to the pavilion. He didn't even give himself a moment to throw back his head in anguish. That debut dismissal defined Dravid.
In his illustrious career, Dravid taught us many lessons: Patience, grit, hard work, humility. In his decision to retire from Test cricket he taught us something more. Deciding when to hang your boots is a tough job. You hesitate between 'one more series' and 'I'm not good enough now' moments.
You have to cut through the smokescreen of ego, self-pity and look beyond yourself to realise that your days are over. It is a difficult decision because you have to overlook all your glory deeds and brutally question yourself to make the right call.
It takes courage to say, "Deep down, I felt the time was right to move on and let the youngsters take over."
There will be cricketers with watertight defense, cast in the classical mould, scoring bucket-loads of runs, but there will always be one RD.
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