Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Nice Guy Who Finished First

"The Nice Guy Who Finished First" - As titles of biographies goes, there couldn't have been a better one than this. Pretty much sums up what Rahul Dravid means. (Also it is something which everyone should aspire to be known as).
I was away for a couple of days with very limited internet access. Logged on to cricinfo via the mobile web and saw a headline saying "Rahul Dravid announces retirement". Now this came as a total shock. After a couple of years of patchy form, he had just regained his supreme touch (3 centuries in the past 5 Tests, all away and in difficult batting conditions). I thought maybe he wanted to leave on a high, but this announcement would still have been quite premature.
Reading it further, I realised that Dravid had just retired from ODIs and T20 internationals to focus on his Test career. Now this made no sense. After all he hadn't been a part of the one-day side for quite some time and never played in a T20 for India. (He was scheduled to captain India in its first ever T20 match, but was injured and Sehwag led the the team). Reading the article further, the full story emerged. The selectors had obviously panicked seeing the batting performances in England and picked the best performer in the current Test series for the ODIs as well.
This was of course not a new occurence. Having dumped Dravid in 2007 and then Ganguly for trying out youngsters, they had to pick Dravid back for the 2009 Champions Trophy in South Africa. The reason being given that the newcomers had been found out against the short ball. So Rahul Dravid was back in the ODI team for 2 tours. Was the second highest run-getter for the team. And was then dumped again when the tours moved to freindlier Indian pitches.
I guess the story was going to be repeated again this time. But Dravid put a stop to it before it got out of hand. He announced his retirement after the ODIs. It would be interesting if he plays the T20 match. His T20 debut and retirement on the same day.
Rahul Dravid has been the go to man for all emrgencies in the Indian cricket for the past few years. Keeping wickets in one dayers for a few years. Then one day batting position changes frequntly. Opening on a regular basis in Tests. Playing ODIs in pace friendly conditions because the younger lot cannot handle the short ball. And then getting dumped when the contests moved on to batting friendly pitches. Captaining during the Greg Chappel era. Resigning after winning a series in England, reasons for which have still not been made public.
Now that Dravid has put a stop on all this. There would be no more hiding behind "The Wall" for Indian selectors. They have to find a new solution to their problems.
There was outrage on his selection to the ODI team. This wasn't on account of him not deserving a spot in the team. But because of the mistreatment of an all time great. And his reaction of all this was simple. Play in the ODIs because the team needed him. And then retire.
I hope Indian cricket and its fans finally give the man his due. Not that he is going to ask for it. And in any case he need not worry. After all his name appears in out national anthem.

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