From trying to save a side torn asunder by Brendon McCullum's 158 to taking his 'Moneyball team' on a dream run, Rahul Dravid has aged, but aged well. In six seasons of a competition apparently unsuited for his game because batting prowess here is often measured in metres, he has left his signature.
Typically of Dravid, he's done that by being a cricketer and a gentleman.
Dravid will play the Champions League for the Rajasthan Royals and that, he said, will be it for him as a cricketer. Minutes before in the early hours of Saturday as a half-filled Eden emptied out, he had called time on the Indian T20 league. Quietly, without frills. For four hours before that in a manner that belied his 40 years, Dravid had done everything he could to take Royals to the final.
But now it was done and even though some of his teammates looked like they had chewed a lemon, Dravid walked up crisply for the after-match interview. The analysis was earnest: “We could have fielded better on a greasy outfield.” And then he mentioned how proud he was of the team for rallying through a turbulent time.
“It was difficult, something that I’ve never experienced before. It was unique in that sense,” he said. “You plan for a lot of things... you plan for failing, you know how to deal with that. But when stuff like this comes up you don’t know... It was quite challenging.”
Dravid said it would sink in gradually. “I don’t think things will ever be the same… We had to get ready and play these games but after we go back to our houses, the whole thing will take some time to get used to.”
Honesty may seem a lonely word in Indian cricket now but Dravid chose to emphasise the importance of truth. “Truth alwa-ys sets you free. I really hope we get to the bottom of it. Whatev-er and however painful it might be,” he said. From a lot of people, this comment could have sounded odious.
And instead of making sweeping statements condemning this tournament, Dravid called for a commitment to deal with the issues. “There are a lot of positives… The cricket's great. But there are challenges as well, as we've seen in the last week or 10 days. Not only this, there are other challenges that come up from time to time.
“An issue of betting is not only about the league. We have seen in the past that the issue has been there in international cricket as well. We don't stop international cricket because of that. If that yardstick was used, we should stop all cricket," he said.