The many cricket identities of Rahul Dravid, the model professional | Crickit

The many cricket identities of Rahul Dravid, the model professional

ByAmrit Mathur
Jul 06, 2024 06:36 PM IST

Rahul Dravid, the cricket legend, is described as master, servant, mentor, and more. With multiple talents and skills, he is a key figure in the world of cricket.

When the norm is one Aadhar per person why should Rahul Dravid has multiple identities? According to popular narrative he is variously described as cricket’s master, servant, legend, student, bhai, wall…

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with India head coach Rahul Dravid. (ANI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with India head coach Rahul Dravid. (ANI)

It could be that Dravid (recently retired, currently unemployed) is multi-skilled and multi-talented, ticks several boxes and is the key that opens many doors. Having seen, known and interacted with him for more than two decades, it’s true that the gent from Indiranagar, Bengaluru is a complete cricket person. As player, coach, mentor, administrator, Dravid is this, that and a lot more.

Look first at his cricket. India’s greatest No.3, 164 Tests, 13,000 runs. Runs didn’t flow easily from his bat, instead each was hard fought, extracted with effort and grit. He didn’t have Sachin Tendulkar’s natural gifts or Virender Sehwag’s sparkling brilliance, but his batting was solid and dependable. He had a bat broader than the sight-screen. And a heart as big.

Dravid was more than the cement that protected India’s middle order; he also had steel. I witnessed this in Multan when he declared the innings, leaving SRT stranded on 194*, a tough call for any captain. Another time, when it was suggested that India and Pakistan players shake hands before the toss in a friendly gesture, his response was sharp. Why do it? he asked – it’s one more game of cricket. We aren’t the UN.

Dravid the batter respected process. Perpetually in the practise/train/repeat mode, he left little to chance and hit millions of balls in the net and went through endless throw downs.

In the 16 years he played international cricket (beginning with 95 on his 1996 Lord’s debut) Dravid was always the selfless team man. Whenever, whatever the ask, his hand was up – the willing volunteer. For one with the most catches in Test history (210) he kept wicket in more than 100 one-dayers. As vice-captain, he was the independent director of a company, speaking always in the team interest.

When Kevin Pietersen sought help to play on turning tracks, Dravid readily sent him a ‘how to’ mail, a classic coaching lesson. When asked to speak at a MCC reception for the Indian team (with captain Sourav Ganguly running a fever) he made extensive notes, rewrote many drafts and rehearsed. End result? A speech that was ‘fit for purpose’ – measured and thoughtful, which had everyone applauding.

Dravid was a model professional, so proper he could be heading a cricket coaching institute. Anyone wanting to progress in cricket had to just follow his example by copy, cut, paste. Dravid himself though believed in self-help. When others struggled to comply with the trainers’ instructions on diet, his response was simple: When it comes to the dessert, it’s between you and the cake. Nobody else matters.

In the elite club of Indian cricket royalty, Dravid stands out for being the commoner. Attention of any kind for him is an unwanted nuisance, a wicked outswinger best left alone. With feet on ground, and a balanced head on his shoulders, he wears his eminence lightly and shuts down ideas of legacy and history. Cricket was his interest, batting a job, his bat a tool – just as the laptop is for the corporate executive.

Unlike many cricket superstars, Dravid is normal, with decency and calm dignity as his calling card. He is pleasant and likeable, not only because of his self-deprecating humour. When someone suggested he score a Test triple hundred, Dravid dismissed the idea saying ICC would have to go back to seven-day matches for him to do that.

For cricket, and senior cricketers, he has respect. When Pakistan legend Hanif Mohammad came to the Indian dressing room, Dravid spent time with him. When Tiger Pataudi talked cricket (a rare occurrence!) over a cup of coffee, Dravid heard him like an attentive junior.

As a cricketer, Dravid seemingly has done it all but will he get back to active cricket soon? That’s a difficult one because there aren’t many mountains left for him to climb. Regardless of the future, Dravid will be known, remembered, respected for always playing straight.

Dravid is mentor and student, master and servant of the game at the same time. And for this, he richly deserves multiple identities and Aadhars.

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