What does Rahul Dravid have in common with an English talkshow host, the former Prime Minister of Australia, a Formula One world champion and an army general?
Dravid joined the likes of former Australian prime minister John Howard and cricket greats Richie Benaud, Ricky Ponting and Greg Chappell in delivering the Bradman Speech at the 11th annual Bradman Oration at the Australian War Memorial here on Wednesday.'The Wall', who normally lets his bat do the talking, showed his words are as scrupulous as his forward defence. The 38-year-old wowed a packed audience, including many past Australian cricket greats and current skipper Michael Clarke.
Dravid touched upon a range of issues, provided a historical perspective on cricket and how Bradman inspired the emerging cricket world with his performances against England in the 1930s before speaking about the burning issues in the current game.
When we toured in 2007-08, I thought it was going to be my last tour of Australia. The Australians thought it was going to be the last time they would be seeing Sachin Tendulkar on their shores. Well, like a few, creaking Terminators, we're back. Older, wiser and I hope improved.
If we stand up for the game's basic decencies, it will be far easier to tackle its bigger dangers — whether it is finding short cuts to easy money or being lured by the scourge of spot-fixing and contemplating any involvement with the betting industry.
Cricket's financial success means it will face threats from outside the game and keep facing them. The last two decades have proved this over and over again. The internet and modern technology may just end up being a step ahead of every anti-corruption regulation in place in the game. As players, the one way we can stay ahead for the game is if we are willing to be monitored and regulated closely, even if it means giving up a little bit of freedom of movement and privacy. If it means undergoing dope tests, let us never say no. If it means undergoing lie-detector tests, let us understand the technology, what purpose it serves and accept it.
One of the biggest challenges that the game must respond to today, I believe, is charting out a clear road map for the three formats.
We now realise that the sport's three formats cannot be played in equal numbers — that will only throw scheduling and the true development of players completely off gear. Test cricket is the gold standard, it is the form the players want to play.
The Don & I
I am actually pleased that I share something very important with Sir Don. He was, primarily, like me, a No. 3 batsman. It is a tough, tough job.
We're the ones who make life easier for the kings of batting, the middle order that follows us. Bradman did that with a bit more success and style than I did.