Cricketers hardly read books. But most Indians don't anyway," said one of India's most loved batsman Rahul Dravid, also known as The Wall, at the Jaipur Literature Festival, a day after he received India's third highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan. "There's not much value given to history, let alone the history of cricket."
Dravid was in the Pink City not as the Rajasthan Royals' captain, but to launch Pataudi - Nawab of Cricket, a collection of essays compiled by cricket writer Suresh Menon, along with Sharmila Tagore. For a fleeting moment, pace bowler S Sreesanth made an appearance on stage.
The launch was followed by a session on the transformation of cricket as a sport, moderated by mediaperson Rajdeep Sardesai, who called Dravid the Pataudi of our generation. It was attended by Ian Buruma and Menon.
It was also revealed that Dravid, who retired from cricket last year, is presently writing an autobiography.
Speaking on the culture of making sportspersons larger than life and the celebrity culture, Dravid said it's a pity that young and talented cricketers are being sucked into stardom and hailed as celebrities when they simply haven't played enough.
"Today three or four games are enough to make you a star, unlike in the days of Gavaskar and Tendulkar," Dravid said. "Young players today have to force themselves not to get caught up."
Speaking on the positive attributes of the Indian Premier League, Dravid said he was never sceptical of the game's format and hails the opportunity he has had to share the dressing rooms with international players he was so used to playing against. "I've played with Jacques Kallis for three years now. I find him a shy, quiet, introvert and we get along exceptionally well. This, after playing against him for years and never hearing a word from him."
Dravid said the game of cricket teaches you to be humble and also mentioned how politics and cricket, much against his heart, always mix and this affects the game and its atmosphere. "I played in an era when everyone tried to play for a team; ego never came into the picture."
But he ducked the question on his controversial decision at India's first innings with Sachin Tendulkar stranded at 194 not out at the Multan Test as vice-captain. "We won that Test in four days."
On reading and his love for it, he said, he finds it a 'stress buster' and said Sunny Days by Sunil Gavaskar is his favourite book. "I was a young boy, there was no TV, and reading the book gave me the ability to dream and play," said Dravid. "It had a huge impact."