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Not just another brick in the Wall!

This day marks completion of Dravid's 10 glorious years in Test cricket.

india Updated: Jun 20, 2006 15:02 IST

Rahul Dravid, now leading the Indian cricket team in the West Indies on Tuesday completed 10 glorious years in the Test arena - a journey marked by remarkable consistency and constant endeavour to improve.

Dravid will play his 103rd Test when the third Test begins in St Kitts on Thursday.

It was on June 20, 1996, that the right-hander from Bangalore made his debut against England at Lord's, London. And Dravid straight way showed his class and calibre as he scored 95 in the only innings of the Test.

Essentially a batsman who takes time to get set before tearing the bowling attack apart, Dravid, now 33, has been quite successful in one-day cricket too, though some experts had short-sightedly declared him a misfit for the shorter version a few years ago.

After playing 172 Test innings, Dravid has amassed 8,810 runs at an average of 58.34 - an indication of amazing consistency that places him ninth in the all-time list of highest averages.

Dravid, who has successfully occupied the No 3 position, has been a quiet but trustworthy performer, often taking the team out of the rut and carrying the responsibilities on his strong shoulders.

Even before his debut, Dravid had exhibited his talent in domestic cricket and the connoisseurs had predicted a long reign for this slim looking batsman from Karnataka.

For comparison's sake, Dravid and Sourav Ganguly made their Test debut in the same Test, with the left-hander making a fine century. Today, Ganguly (5,221 at 40.78 in 88 Tests with 12 centuries) is out of both the Test and ODI teams, while Dravid remains one of the pillars of the team.

Unshakable temperament, amazing patience and loads of stamina are some of the hallmarks of Dravid the batsman.

He is one batsman who can be trusted at all times, through thick and thin, on pitches suited for speed demons or that generously assist spinners. He has been successful on all kinds of surfaces, in all the 10 countries where he has played Test cricket.

He is the only batsman to have scored a century in all 10 Test playing countries, including India.

Another outstanding feature of Dravid's career is that he has been more successful abroad than home - a yardstick that separates the great batsmen from the average ones.

Sample his current record: He has played 47 Tests at home, scoring 3,761 runs at 51.52, with eight centuries; Playing abroad, he has amassed 5,049 runs at 64.73 from 55 Tests with 15 centuries!

No 3 has undoubtedly been Dravid's preferred batting position and he has the performance to claim it rightfully. Of the 172 innings, he has batted 126 times at this position. And of the 8,810 runs, the master has scored 6,818 at 61.42 at this slot.

Dravid has always come to the aid of the team in crisis - whether it pertains to keeping wickets in one-dayers or opening the batting in Test cricket.

He kept wickets for a long time in ODIs in the late 1990s and early 2000s when the selectors had inexplicably felt that Dravid did not deserve a place in the side as a batsman - until he did the wicket-keeper's job. He did, and did it manfully and pretty successfully, including in the 2003 World Cup.

Similarly, when the team management was having problems in picking the XIs for the Test series in Pakistan this year, Dravid volunteered to partner Virender Sehwag as an opener in all three matches, though there were two other specialist openers in the side.

He was again successful in this role. He and Sehwag raised 410 runs for the opening wicket in the first Test in Lahore, falling three runs short of equalling the world record. While Sehwag smashed 254, Dravid remained unbeaten on 128 - another nugget in an illustrious career that continues to blossom.