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Home / India / Reined in, skipper wants to break free

Reined in, skipper wants to break free

Dravid's resignation is renunciation, he dropped a bomb and then, coolly stepped aside, writes Amrit Mathur.

india Updated: Sep 17, 2007, 13:25 IST
Amrit mathur
Amrit mathur
Hindustan Times

Most theories doing the rounds about Rahul Dravid's abdication are way off the mark. Junk immediately, dark suggestions about sinister lobbies at work and whispers of a dressing room conspiracy leading to a slickly constructed coup.

Dravid's resignation is renunciation, he dropped a bomb and then, in his typical no-fuss-no-drama style, coolly stepped aside. This decision was carefully thought through, calculated and deliberate - one can imagine Dravid sitting in front of a computer, right hand on the mouse, sorting out the issue through a rational cost-benefit analysis. To him, captaincy at this stage is a high-risk nuisance from which there was little to gain and much to lose. Makes sense to treat it like a dangerous out-swinger outside the off-stump and just let it go.

As such decisions are never taken purely in unemotional terms, there are doubts, and questions. Was stress a factor, did Dravid exit because he could not take the heat? Surely, this must have figured in the calculations because the Indian captaincy brings with it too many expectations, too many demands. The skipper does not just lead the team on the field but negotiates contracts, appoints the coach and decides a hundred other things, all of which is a burden and a distraction. Sourav Ganguly, after years of handling this, once commented wryly that he lost weight and looked fit because of tension, not from the training he did.

Some will say Dravid ran away, and instead of putting up his hand for India (and being up for the challenge, to use an expression made popular by a former coach) he raised both hands in some sort of a surrender.

This is unfair considering Dravid has demonstrated (in 450 international matches in 11 years!) he is a battler and an honest soldier who did not duck a tough situation. As batsman he is classy, correct, composed, respected for being truly professional (as in self-driven and focussed). Judged in the larger context, Dravid was supremely dignified and an outstanding ambassador.

The reasons for suddenly walking, before some silly umpire raises a finger, lie in Dravid's thoughtful and sensitive nature. He is not an introvert but a private, self-sufficient individual to whom captaincy is a responsibility which brings criticism and intense scrutiny.

Partly, it is also a burnout issue, similar to the experience of tennis players who sprint to the summit, retire and then return before hitting 25. Same is the case of young business executives who slog 18 hours to climb the corporate ladder but are spent by the effort and by 40 are contemplating quitting, packing their bags and taking their foot off the accelerator. Such emotional and physical strain is, inevitably, a part of contemporary sport. Dravid, having endured this admirably for over a decade, now just wants a freer ride.

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