'The Wall' follows Tendulkar's example
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'The Wall' follows Tendulkar's example

The sudden decision of Rahul Dravid to step down from captaincy is a bolt from the blue for the legions of cricket fans in the country.

cricket Updated: Sep 14, 2007 15:59 IST

The sudden decision of Rahul Dravid to step down from captaincy was a bolt from the blue for the legions of cricket fans in the country, especially after he recently led India to a Test series victory in England after 21 years.

However, there have been instances in the chequered long history of Indian cricket when others before 'The Wall' had relinquished their captaincy when least expected, the prime example being Dravid's teammate and predecessor Sachin Tendulkar.

Tendulkar had a love-hate relationship with the selectors when he was at the helm for the second and last time in his glittering career and was unhappy over the latter dictating terms about his batting order.

The dramatic announcement to the scribes by Tendulkar, who had replaced Hyderabad stylist Mohd Azharuddin at the helm, that he was stepping down as captain at the end of the two-Test series against South Africa, came when the visitors were engaged in a three-day warm-up game at the Cricket Club of India here before the start of the Test series.

Tendulkar was replaced by Sourav Ganguly as captain for the five-match ODI series against South Africa and he went on to create history by becoming the country's most successful Test captain before himself being dumped from the job in 2005.

Dravid, who also made his Test debut at Lord's in 1996 with Ganguly, replaced the Bengal stalwart and has led India in 25 Tests and 79 ODIs, in the process also guiding the country to away wins over the West Indies and England and their first-ever Test victory in South Africa.

Two decades ago Sunil Gavaskar had announced beforehand when named to lead India in the 1985 World Championship of Cricket that he would step down as captain after the event.

Gavaskar's decision to quit captaincy after a second stint at the helm, having replaced India's lone World Cup winning skipper Kapil Dev for the home series against David Gower's Englishmen in 1984-85, followed the falling out of the two icons of Indian cricket during that rubber.

Kapil Dev was axed from the team for the Kolkata Test for playing an irresponsible shot and losing his wicket in the previous Delhi Test that India lost and helped England draw level in the rubber.

A spate of criticism followed and Gavaskar, who was named to lead the team in the one-day tournament in Australia to celebrate the centernary of Victoria province, declared publicly that he was stepping down once the event ended.

India, incidentally, won the event against all odds - beating arch-rivals Pakistan in the final, but Gavaskar kept his words, gave up the captaincy and played under Kapil Dev for the rest of his career which ended with India's shock exit in the semi finals in Mumbai at the 1987 Reliance World Cup.

Dravid's decision to step down has also been voluntary, and taken to concentrate on his game, but in contrast most others have been dumped unceremoniously, the worst being Ajit Wadekar and Srinivas Venkataraghavan.

Wadekar was forced to not only step down as captain following the public backlash when India were whitewashed 3-0 in England in 1974, but also to retire prematurely.

Venkat was sacked even as the team was returning home from England in 1979 with the flight's captain announcing that Gavaskar was the new captain.

First Published: Sep 14, 2007 15:56 IST