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Canterbury Tales: A perfect homecoming for Kent hero
Sanjjeev K Samyal, Hindustan Times
Canterbury, August 27, 2011
First Published: 00:23 IST(27/8/2011)
Last Updated: 00:25 IST(27/8/2011)

There was a certain buzz around the Kent County Cricket Club dressing room. It is always special for local teams to host international sides, but this time it was extra special as the hero of the touring party happened to be one of their former players. Canterbury is home to Rahul Dravid in England, where he spent a great summer in 2000.

India's star of the high profile Test series was the most sought after man at the St Lawrence ground on Friday. On arriving at his old club, the Indian legend dropped his bag and dashed straight to the canteen. It was time to renew old friendships.

"It is great coming back to a place which brings back so many memories. A lot has changed in the Kent set-up, but I still have friends like the captain Robert Key," said Dravid.

As the club is happy about England's success, they are pleased for their own player Dravid's super performance in the Test series. "I learnt a lot while being an overseas player at this ground," said Dravid.

Enduring loyalty
"It is great to see him do well and succeed in England because I know he valued his time with us in Kent. It was something we were talking about today," said Simon Willis, high performance director of the club.

"Rahul had identified that Indians had struggled overseas and he wanted to make sure it didn't happen with him. It is no surprise to me that he has adapted the best to the English conditions despite form. Class and experience counts for a lot and he was aware of the conditions here from playing county cricket in the 2002 and 2007 series. It is pleasing, he is a former overseas player for Kent and a friend, you want all those players to do well," said Willis.

Then Kent coach John Wright was instrumental in getting Dravid. "I had just finished my playing career with Kent and my job was to look after the overseas players. He was among the easiest guys to handle."

The wright way
He recalls: "I remember he came over early that season, which is very rare for an overseas player. And in England we do a lot of running pre-season and fitness. He really got involved. It was a bit of a culture shock for him. I don't think at that time they had done a lot of running and fitness."

The club was more than satisfied with what Dravid gave back in return. "The one innings we talk about a lot is the 200 runs (match aggregate) he got against Warne at Portsmouth. Our lads learnt a lot from Rahul how to play spin bowling. It was about how to pick different types of deliveries. Key puts that experience quite high up on his list."

"He learnt a little bit from us and we learnt a lot from him."


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