By the time he hangs his boots, Rahul Dravid will probably have held many records at various times and seen them overtaken. Though Dravid has over 10,000 runs in Tests and ODIs, he won’t be at the top in either list.
Perhaps, that is why the usually undemonstrative former captain reacted spontaneously to catching Tim McIntosh by kissing the ball. This is one record that is not going to be broken in a hurry. Equally, for a non-wicketkeeper (Dravid has never kept wickets in Tests), a fielding record is a sure sign of longevity.
In all the talk about his batting and orthodoxy, it is often overlooked that he is as good a slip catcher as India have had in a few generations. When fielding to pacemen, he is assured and still, rarely takes his eye off the ball and watches it right into the hand. Against spinners, which is a different art altogether, it is reflexes that are tested and the ability to keep the hands soft and receive the ball.
Dravid will be the first to admit he’s not the fastest mover on the field, but in his case captains have been spared the task of ‘hiding’ him in the field, simply because of his exceptional work in the slips.
Sure, Dravid has dropped his share of clangers, and when he’s out of form with the bat, there have been attempts to correlate this with his catching, but the numbers tell you just how significant this milestone is.
Of current players, only Ricky Ponting (148 catches in 131 Tests), Jacques Kallis (147 from 131) and Mahela Jayawardene (142 from 102) are within striking distance, but none of them are spring chicken. Unless he surprises everyone like he did with the captaincy, Dravid is unlikely to give the game away in the near future.
At the end of the day, Dravid’s teammates encouraged him to take the record-breaking ball from the umpires. Some years down the road, it might be the only record still in his name, and it’s a piece of memorabilia he will cherish.