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Perfect exit, Dravid shows the way

cricket Updated: Mar 11, 2012 01:09 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Hindustan Times
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Cricket-great-Rahul-Dravid-announced-his-retirement-from-international-cricket-ending-a-distinguished-16-year-career

It's not about leaving on a high. When your time is up, it's up! That's what Rahul Dravid's last act in international cricket taught us.

The setting is coincidental. If you finish the last lap on the shoulders of your teammates, in front of adoring fans, it's your luck. In professional sport, doing anything for sentiment has no place.

In a way, Dravid has shown the way for the seniors still grappling with the decision.

"It's been a very quiet sunset, like the man himself. He would have liked to end in no other way; he's not the one for a big show. It's testimony to the man's personality," said his childhood friend Fazal Khaleel.

"For him, it was simply a case of the calling within. He had been talking about it for some time and when he realised that he's done, he didn't wait for a fitting occasion. Even when he gave up captaincy, he took everyone by surprise. That's how he is, never the one to seek attention," said Khaleel, who studied and played with Dravid right from his kindergarten days.

India's last batch has been of greats, and Dravid is one of the five pillars along with Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble. The first three to retire have got it right.

Most relieved by Dravid's call are the selectors. Being an iconic player, they knew how sensitive the situation was, but pressure was building on them to act tough.

By taking the call himself, Dravid has made it easy for everyone.

Now, all eyes are on Laxman and Tendulkar. Given their stature, a graceful exit will ideal.

There are two ways of bowing out - you make the decision or leave it to the selectors like Ricky Ponting. Laxman seems to favour the Ponting way. It has shown in his decision to continue playing the IPL, even though his game is not suited for the T20 tournament.

Geoff Lawson, who worked with the stylish Hyderabadi as the Kochi Tuskers' coach last season, did not like the Ponting way of ending a career, but defended Laxman.

"People who have not played the game will not understand it, but it's a decision of the heart. Playing cricket is not your livelihood, it's your life. Laxman is a lovely bloke and I am sure he will take a wise decision," he said.

The selectors are not impressed that there is no communication on his plans. For some of them, he's already been given an extra Test. And when he got out to an off-spinner in both the innings at Adelaide, it was the final straw.

But the player with the biggest responsibility to get it right is Tendulkar. The selectors would hate to take a call on him, and want him to decide for himself.

In Test cricket, his presence is important, not just for the experience and runs, but also for mentoring the juniors. But, it's time for him to reconsider his one-day innings.

As Dravid said, it's mainly about the future of the team, and by playing on and off, Tendulkar doesn't fit in there.

Final call