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grace. everyday superstar > Sambit Bal THE CRICKETER Extravagantly sound > Mukul Kesavan The talent myth > Suresh Menon The man who acquired greatness > Sambit Bal The grit to be great > Sanjay Manjrekar A cricketer most evolved > Aakash Chopra The job he fell out of love with > Sidharth Monga ‘The best batting happens when you are batting in the present’ > Sambit Bal IN THE WORDS OF HIS PEERS The rock around whom the rest moved > John Wright A gentleman champion of timeless steel and dignity > Ed Smith The eternal student > Greg Chappell The master will see you now (and always) > Suresh Raina ‘I didn’t beat him more than a ball in a row’ > Jason Gillespie His team. his time > Rahul Bhattachariya THE GREAT INNINGS Kolkata 2001: Hercules on second fiddle > Sidharth Monga Leeds 2002: The monk of Headingley > Sanjay Bangar Adelaide 2003: Twin treatises in courage > Rohit Brijnath Rawalpindi 2004: Notes from an ugly epic > Rahul Bhattacharya Jamaica 2006: The Kingston grind > Siddhartha Vaidyanathan Nottingham 2011: A part of his best self > Sharda Ugra ‘There are no easy catches in the slips’ > Nagraj Gollapudi THE MAN Dignity. conscience > Rohit Brijnath A sportsman of model decorum > Gideon Haigh The reason I got married > Jarrod Kimber The money moment > Samir Chopra Start as you mean to go on > Fazal Khaleel My husband the perfectionist > Vijeeta Dravid ‘When you’ve played at the top.CONTENTS Introduction: Your regular. it’s hard to settle for second-best’ > Interview by Sharda Ugra ‘Everything that has given cricket its power has started from the fan’ > Rahul Dravid THE NUMBERS The man they couldn’t move > S Rajesh Records Acknowledgements .

or a milking of emotions. but hardly surprising. Unlike Dravid and Kumble. The reason is straightforward. but the man is just as exceptional. Dravid the cricketer was immense. Dravid came A dressed smartly – white shirt. that his retirement evoked as many appreciations in the media that were about the cricketer as much as they were about the person. hair neatly combed – looking boyish. and arguably world cricket. Dravid’s retirement would not have come as a surprise. even somewhat uncaring. but in recent times the BCCI president’s public image has been that of an authoritarian. Dravid was perceptive enough to notice the difference between the obligatory platitudes that are part of the journalistic routine for such occasions and the sincerity in the tributes that came his way. It was remarkable. if not more so. N Srinivasan. has cultivated the image of a tough and taciturn overlord who takes no prisoners. studious and a bit nervous. and its innate grace and beauty. in Adelaide. its intellectual dimensions. During his years with the BCCI. his words resonated in the room. Dravid can have that effect on people. To those who knew him. the showmanship of a final doffing of the hat. But on this day his obvious affection for Dravid drew out the cricket lover in him. he said. because to remain a successful athlete at the highest level for as long as he did requires a degree of self-absorption and even narcissism. who also runs India Cements. Those who have known him for long talk about Srinivasan’s love for cricket. figure. black jacket. on those who genuinely love the game. was that it was obvious that people had taken the time to think about what they wrote. and because they came from the heart. What was touching. for it allowed those present a rare glimpse of the softer side of the most powerful man in Indian cricket. He wouldn’t be human if he hadn’t wished for a better finish than the airy. His family trooped in behind him. those who have been drawn to cricket by its wholesome and timeless qualities. The words were carefully chosen – no flash. and the tears (well. There was the familiar chaos at the start. a long list of thank yous. Anil Kumble sat by his side and Javagal Srinath and GR Viswanath in the first row. which is amazing. almost) came from the most unlikely quarter.Your regular. and one poignant sentence at the end that was perfect headline material. He was eloquent and emotional. with photographers crowding the dais and being heckled by their mates. In many ways Dravid personified many aspects of Test cricket that fans find appealing. un-Dravid-like waft that carried the ball into the lap of gully in his final innings. not overly sentimental. It was a lovely passage on its own. Dravid read from a prepared text. and a touch of humour. Kumble too read out a tribute that had all the right words. everyday superstar SAMBIT BAL t Rahul Dravid’s retirement press conference. but he was mature and pragmatic enough to accept that fairytale endings are a matter of chance: it would have been futile trying to wait for one or to try to manufacture one. he spoke extempore. not merely dashed off pieces that were mandated. most things ran along expected lines. The twist. This is not to suggest that . The manner of his departure bore the stamp of the man: not for him the fanfare of a build-up to a farewell Test.

He would later tell me that he had got a friend to look through the copy before he sent it over. It was good to know him – not in the sense of how it feels good to know a superstar.there aren’t nice men in sport – in fact. and had varied interests. because he understood that you had to be honest to your job. You could write about a poor performance or a poor run of scores from Dravid without worrying about his response. as his team-mates combusted around him. and each time the copy would turn up neat. It made him one of the rare cricketers a journalist could afford to be friends with without compromising on professionalism. He often compared the life of the Indian cricketer to a fish bowl. He would ask me as many questions about my profession as I did him about his. one of the greatest of his career. after he had batted India to a win in the Adelaide Test. where some players first read pieces that run under their bylines – if they do so at all – after they are published. He wrote for us a few times after that. which turned out to be. And perhaps that’s why he can see cricket from the outside. over chats about parenting and books. Not that he is unaware of his stardom or is falsely modest about his achievements. Through the years our relationship has never been hostage to what was written about him on ESPNcricinfo under my watch. for him personally. but for himself he was determined never to be trapped. In six of the eight Test innings he was forced to open in difficult conditions. like he did. My profession demands the discipline of keeping a distance from your subjects. over shared thoughts and interests. It would be hard to find a cricketer who was as devoted and consumed by his craft. It’s a rare and remarkable quality. It has helped him engage in relationships in the outside world without baggage. That was the theme through his career: when a tough job needed to be done. or one who spent as much time polishing it. He was earnest and curious. There would be times he would call to tweak a line or two. but Dravid agreed. he didn’t submit to another until the end of the English summer of 2011. he was back facing the new ball late in the day. With Dravid that code was broken. It’s not that I cultivated a friendship with him deliberately. We didn’t discuss a fee. reflect on it objectively. I didn’t know what to expect. and in the Oval Test. That none of it has ever felt wrong has been down to the kind of person he is. There is a normalcy about him that is almost abnormal. if he would write a piece on Sachin Tendulkar on the occasion of his 100 Test. There are public figures who go out of their way to put you at ease. There is no affectation and artifice involved. over the phone. that was Dravid’s biggest triumph. but he can step outside all that and connect with the world at a real level. after carrying his bat through in the first innings. when England enforced the follow-on. but the effort involved is palpable. but because he made it possible for you to engage with him at a normal level. it was Dravid India . over phone calls about the occasional pieces he wrote for us. which was impressive. but he also found energy and time to understand and engage with the world outside cricket. and see the ironies and futilities of stardom. It developed organically over the years. given the prevailing culture of player columns. th Apart from my first long and satisfying interview with him in 2003. In a sense. The very first time I spoke to him was to ask him. and insisted he would write it himself. over meals on tours. It’s almost as if he leaves that part of his life behind him when he leaves the cricket field. Indian cricket was blessed that it had so many at the same time – but rarely does sport allow its successful practitioners to develop rounded personalities. Dravid does it just by being himself.

but to find a man as exceptional is likely to be far tougher. team-mates. He didn’t like opening. His mind was almost made up about retirement. he said. but in its five sections – the batsman and what he meant to Indian cricket. there were no regrets. but he did open. he now regretted not taking the opportunity to leave on a high after the tour of England. This book doesn’t purport to be definitive.turned to. Some of these articles have been edited. “I never saw it that way. To me it felt like I was being trusted to do a tough job by the team. Indian cricket may find a batsman as capable. he made his international T20 debut. opponents. and interviews with Dravid over the years – it aims to provide a well-rounded portrait of a cricketer who made competitiveness and grace perfect companions. and brought dignity to his sport even as he fought fiercely in his team’s corner. He did the tough press conferences.” I spoke to him again after the tour of Australia. and it employs a wide range of voices – those of writers. I asked him if. with the benefit of hindsight. is an unabridged version. and the interview with Dravid after his retirement. too. rewritten and expanded – the piece by Vijeeta Dravid. long after he had opted out of format. impressions by team-mates and other peers. is longer here than the version that appeared on the website. his finest innings. I asked him if he ever felt like the sacrificial lamb. he felt obliged to travel to Australia. personal accounts of the man. And no. First slip was his natural habitat. It made me feel valued. Dravid’s response was disarmingly simple. who has not only looked after their home but been her husband’s best sounding board. a collection of fresh pieces and ones previously published on ESPNcricinfo and in some of its sister publications. I was convinced he did. and even Dravid’s wife. where he seemed to find every conceivable way there is of getting bowled. This book. He would have gone. Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo . where the team had never won a Test series. if he had had a poor series. but he yielded the position because a team-mate with a bad back found it difficult to stand at second. But having done so well. because India were struggling to put together an XI. is an exploration of the cricketer and the man. And at the fag end of his career.

The cricketer .

has been Kiplingesque. and indeed life itself. The talent myth. Suresh Menon.Without too much effort Dravid could also keep his head when all about him were losing theirs and blaming it on him. His approach to sport. as well as trust himself when all men doubted him. page 18 .

Is Dravid the greatest batsman ever to represent India? Does he have a claim to being the greatest batsman in the world today? To play sublime innings every now and then isn’t enough. By the time Dravid began playing Test cricket. we know they are great batsmen. That his peak coincided with a relative decline in Tendulkar ’s performance underlined his pre-eminence. statistically more reliable than Gavaskar. But figures aren’t everything. Journalists and commentators everywhere acknowledged with respect and admiration Dravid’s achievement. On pretty much every count Dravid’s record is outstanding. It’s also true that to compare the figures of a completed career against one that’s still a work in progress is misleading: averages taper off towards the end of a player ’s span. by sheer weight of runs. but a batsman can only play to the conditions he’s given. was the most valuable batsman in the Indian side. as in the manner in which Tendulkar replaced Mohammad Azharuddin. the second half of the decade was Tendulkar ’s. Still. regarded by most critics as the greatest batsman in the history of Indian cricket. we wouldn’t be asking the question we started with. despite the massive consistency of his record. when he observed that Tendulkar ’s batsmanship resembled his own. On this score Dravid was the most dependable batsman India ever produced. But prodigies like Tendulkar upset this sequence: to Dravid. If they were. which is where Gavaskar ended his wonderful career. So why. the fact that a pessimistic forecast has Dravid declining to Gavaskar ’s statistical level.[ 1 ] Extravagantly sound MUKUL KESAVAN I s Rahul Dravid a great batsman? If this is the big question. do we not take Dravid’s greatness for granted? The simple answer is that Dravid played all his cricket in the shadow of Tendulkar. It is natural for a young batsman to supersede the champion of the previous generation. In’s list of the top 100 innings. Dravid finished in the early 50s. Nobody asks it of Lara or Tendulkar anymore. it must have sometimes seemed that he had been sentenced to second fiddle for life. which is a staggering achievement. and that would be true. Tendulkar was a Test star of about seven years’ standing. You could also argue that Tendulkar in his pomp averaged roughly what Dravid did in his. but there was no great rush to celebrate the arrival of a new “great”. says something about the height at which he currently stands. I’d argue that Gavaskar faced the greater challenges: he opened the batting against better fast bowlers without a helmet. so that can’t be held against Dravid. He has by far the best record for an Indian batsman away from home. If the early nineties belonged to Lara. and that he made those runs at a greater rate. there’s a flotilla of more specific questions that follow it in close formation. The seal on Tendulkar ’s pre-eminence was affixed by Don Bradman himself. It is the fate of low-profile high performers to be taken for granted. But through the first half of the 2000s Dravid. . three months older than the great Mumbaikar. a crucial statistic for a team that’s notoriously shaky at dealing with foreign conditions. Dravid’s best centuries were ranked higher than Tendulkar ’s.

He never made your pulse race. Here a sound technique always implies a “compact defence”. but unlike Lara. Watching him bat was like watching the movement of an old-fashioned clock: the pendulum working. getting off to an early start helps (Tendulkar). cut. whose backlift ended in high-risk shotmaking. his sadhu-like indifference to the sex appeal of shots hit on the up. The oohs that follow Tendulkar ’s attenuated straight drive. as does an explosive one (Gavaskar). and nothing was ever hit on the up. I think the reason for this has to do with Dravid’s style of batsmanship. acknowledging the greatness of those who do. But even allowing for these differences. but his entire technique was centred on the need to make sure that the ball hit the ground first. flourishing and effortful. What timing! Genius! Dravid’s batting style was the opposite of effortless. Gavaskar generally closed out his centuries. Dravid’s apparent effortfulness. is attack. where he rolled his wrists over the ball with almost pedantic deliberation) was because he was wholly committed to the ground beneath his feet. His wrists twirled. but for what it’s worth I think the flourish in Dravid’s batting was a way of finding balance and delaying till the last possible second the decision to play. the high-elbow one minus follow-through. Dravid was a great batsman who could do everything: he hooked. to reduce risk. sweat running off him in rivulets. were symptoms of his decision to sacrifice velocity. dogged. To that end he played the ball later than any batsman in cricket. You seldom applauded a Dravid stroke for its velocity or timing. it’s curious that we admire Dravid where once we stood in awe of Gavaskar. Had Tendulkar in his pomp not walked in at his assigned position in the batting order. Every shot was preceded by a high. are our tributes to magic. Dravid didn’t fit into the rudimentary templates that the great art of coarse cricket writing has invented for batsmen. It’s impossible for a lay viewer to know how a great player achieves his effects. as with Lara and Tendulkar. where he scored 774 runs in four Tests with four centuries and three fifties.Also. more naturally. The fact that Gavaskar was an opening batsman invested his innings with drama: there’s something about an opening batsman facing down fast bowlers that is dramatic and exciting in itself. Spectators and cricket writers reserve their highest praise for batsmanship that seems effortless. whose preferred style. Well. his bat looped before the ball was disciplined into the ground. flicked and drove. Dravid is a great defensive batsman and the label “great” is generally applied to batsmen who dominate the bowling. Dravid’s defence wasn’t compact: it was extravagant. Energetic hook shots dribbled over the boundary line. comes more easily. not attrition. gears and levers . His methods weren’t orthodox. Not so with Dravid. collective disappointment would have rustled round the arena. Also. for example. Dravid’s arabesques more often than not resulted in the ball being dropped by his feet for a single. pulled. It was elaborate. This had something to do with his record-breaking debut series. The reason his shot-making sometimes looked studied (his pull. who through the first half of his career had the frustrating habit of getting himself out in the eighties and nineties. But this can’t be the whole explanation. unlike Dravid. the absence of ooh-making timing. like Viv Richards or Tendulkar. flourishing backlift. Attacking batsmen are sexier than defensive ones. so late that more often than not the ball would ricochet off an angled bat and hit the ground at a steep angle. Gavaskar played most of his innings in defensive mode and the Indian cricketing public wasted no time in hailing him as the greatest ever. In the greatness stakes. swept. Drives were hit hard into the ground. And the man-in-a-bunker effect was exaggerated by the stance: low.

A version of this article was first published in the print version of Cricinfo Magazine in August 2006 Of the 210 catches Dravid took in Test matches. Dravid taught us that batsmen can be defensively sound in an original way. because you know that he owed his runs to his technical genius. more than half were off the bowling of Anil Kumble (55) and Harbhajan Singh (51). he can be compared with the greats of the pre-helmet epoch. Someone should break his technique down into its component parts so it can be taught to others at a time when defensive techniques are atrophying. . not to the insurance he wore on his head. Style and idiosyncrasy in cricket are associated with attacking batsmanship. More than any batsman of this age. Dravid almost never got hit by the fast men. Mukul Kesavan is a writer based in New Delhi. and Sehwag without a helmet wouldn’t last the length of a Test match. Tendulkar has been pinged more often than I can count.moving in perfect. elaborate accord to strike the hour when it’s due and not a second earlier.

Talent is Overrated is the unambiguous title of a book by Geoff Colvin. And that something is talent. The former India player – coincidentally the man Rahul Dravid replaced – wrote. or. It is at once an insult to a person’s ability and an inspiration for those who have neither the talent nor the inclination of the successful.000-hour rule”. in the words of Malcolm Gladwell. but scary when given respectability by columnists and pop psychologists. we have a life! There is a comfort in such smug thinking. One of the greatest tennis players of all time was seen as untalented because he was not flamboyant – a common enough mistake for the unsophisticated fan to make. A slew of recent books – Matthew Syed’s Bounce. hone or teach… a skill can be learned. you do not become a 99% genius.000-hour rule refers to the amount of time someone has to work at his craft to reach the highest level. is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. said Edison. It leads to the spurious conclusion that some top performers – Sampras. Genius. Ditto with Roger Federer or Tiger Woods or Eric Clapton. Just a dud. Sunil Gavaskar – are overachievers who made a little talent go a long way. and his 14 Grand Slam titles were seen as the result of hard work and self-denial. a psychologist and researcher at Florida State University. . “It is what you can’t learn. He was seen as boring. The difference between the average joe and VS Naipaul is that the latter works harder and puts in a lot more hours. Most popular books on the subject quote his work. hard work without talent gets you nowhere. Gary Lineker. Or a Kevin Pietersen. I mean.000 days and still not be a Sachin Tendulkar. They are not designated self-help manuals but provide succour to the untalented. Forget 10.000 hours. the “10. Gladwell’s Outliers among them – has been hammering this idea home. Talent without hard work withers early.” This is one of sport’s biggest misconceptions. talent can’t… talent is Garry Sobers. “That you don’t need to have great talent to become a sportsman is reinforced by Dravid’s achievements. talent is Jimi Hendrix…” Not so long ago. the lack of talent was the theme of many studies of Pete Sampras.[ 2 ] The talent myth SURESH MENON I t is fashionable in our times to claim that there is no such thing as talent and that all achievement is the result of hard work. I can practice continuously for 10. What a relief for the rest of us! We are not less talented at all – we merely can’t be bothered to spend all our time doing just the one thing. The 10. But without that 1%. mechanical. The thought was articulated by Sanjay Manjrekar in a piece. For the essential flaw in the argument is that you need to have something to build on. The modern reductive thinking was set off by the work of Anders Ericsson. The former England batsman and now author Ed Smith has a simple definition for “talent”. untalented. David Shenk’s The Genius in All of Us. where he speaks of “deliberate practice” as being more crucial than talent.

the ability to treat these two impostors just the same. You cannot do that without talent. Without too much effort Dravid could also keep his head when all about him were losing theirs and blaming it on him. I would have been in his place!” At least some of us were marvelling at the mental toughness and the sheer grit of the man. on honing skills that would help the talent become productive. The definition of talent is far too restrictive. They are different from you and me. Cricket is the only sport where the term “old-fashioned” is a compliment. Or have to be. The ability to work hard. he was India’s greatest match-winning batsman. ironically. making as many as 95 but missing out on a century. They were the Creator. the ability to read a game. with such things as the ability to absorb pressure and match impact. “has a nasty knack of protecting the talented from the urge to self-improve”. “Gosh. inflexible or anything negative. all the more startling in an era where selfishness is mistaken for professionalism and bad behaviour seen as the rage to perfection. his count of eight series-defining performances greater than anybody else’s. Dravid overcame more problems in the course of a single innings than many of us do in a whole year. yet with a moral centre that was uncompromising. if only I had listened to my cricket coach. His approach to sport. Perhaps out of that experience grew his essential character. In the trinity of Indian batsmanship – Sunil Gavaskar. as recommended by Rudyard Kipling. He befriended both triumph and disaster in his first Test. By any meaningful reckoning. and in the fact that from his teens he was already one of the most talented batsmen in the country. Fifteen years at the top level without talent? Over 10. it does not even consider mental toughness. and indeed life itself. Dravid’s greatness lay in the fact that he worked on preserving his talent.This is the Fallacy of Incomplete Reasoning. the cussedness needed to keep at it and excel at it are all part of the concept of “talent”. Smith has said that talent. the Preserver and the Destroyer respectively. This “talent” clearly does not take into account the stroke play Dravid was capable of – the on side was his. that “old-fashioned” in cricket does not mean hidebound. By limiting the definition we fall for the seductive arguments of pop psychology. as well as trust himself when all men doubted him. When imponderables are introduced into the equation. the skill to change tack at will. the skill to swallow disappointments and return to the fray. So are the talented. traditional and experimental. Dravid was an old-fashioned cricketer who gave breath and body to the qualities that cricket aspires to. said the writer F Scott Fitzgerald. the rest of us were not thinking. thus doing the talented an injustice. When Dravid went out to bat at Lord’s in his final Test there. he is the greatest series-defining batsman in the history of Test cricket. with 24 away wins (Sachin Tendulkar has 20) where he averaged nearly 70. Dravid was as tough and as professional as they come.000 runs each in two forms of the game without talent? Three Test centuries at the age of 39 in England without talent? Then let us all drink what Dravid drinks. And we ignore the mystique that is the essential companion of the great performer. The rich are different from you and me. Dravid and Tendulkar – each had a defined (and defining) role. With the . It is a quirk of the language. and perhaps of the game itself. has been Kiplingesque. Worse. just as the off side was Sourav Ganguly’s in India’s great middle order of the time. The first two would have been meaningless without the third.

Tendulkar was the destroyer incarnate. unusual among Indian players. reducing grown men to tears as they saw their best deliveries disappear past the boundaries on either side of the wicket.” he said on one occasion. self-awareness and modesty. Australia. but seldom accessible to those who only knew him from watching his batting on television. He was arguably India’s greatest catcher at slip. It is called talent. In his peak years. to his own disadvantage. Suresh Menon is the editor of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack India Dravid’s win-loss record as a Test captain (eight wins. and is as much a function of greatness as the stunning on-drive and the powerful square cut. Test orthodoxy and limited-overs creativity is rare. It was a tone familiar to those who knew him off the field. . next only to MS Dhoni (17-10) and Sourav Ganguly (21-13). later he often compared himself to Virender Sehwag.bowlers and the wickets at their most fresh. Yet even in that period Dravid’s self-deprecatory manner. That combination of intensity and relaxation. Gavaskar opened the batting to create the platform on which the middle order could build. Asked if he would make a triple-century someday. both of which Dravid was master of. it was all about anticipation and positioning rather than flamboyance and showmanship. The same subtlety and knowledge of angles that marked his batting were evident in his dealings with people and his handling of situations that called for tact and delicacy. between 2001 and 2006. with 210 Test victims in his bag. Pakistan and the West Indies. There was a harmony. was remarkable. “People want me to get out quickly so they can watch Tendulkar bat. At No. six losses) is third among Indians who led in at least 20 Tests. Dravid’s role was to preserve a good start or make up for a bad one (on 66 occasions he went in to bat with the score in single digits). it was Dravid’s batting that secured victories in England. 3. Dravid replied that you would need a ten-day Test match for that to happen.

Few – Tendulkar and Lara included – have dealt with the short ball with greater poise than Dravid. and a better average. though it rarely elicits awe. at 50 Tests. It was certainly great to watch. Conversely. Richards had greatness written in his mere walk to the middle. and in any match situation. And VVS Laxman. Rahul Dravid piled up the most compelling evidence in favour of the argument that greatness can exist outside genius. one of the more excitable members of the commentary team started to drop the word “great” quite liberally. the way they conjure up strokes that are beyond the reach of most. To watch them bat was to feel awe. as with Brian Lara. Some stamp their greatness by the way they bat. but we often miss the artfulness and skill involved in leaving a bouncer. He was hit a couple of times while trying to force the ball away. But only those who have played the game at the highest level can fully appreciate the true meaning of Dravid’s craft. when Virender Sehwag was carting the West Indian bowlers around in St Lucia in 2006. th So did Mark Waugh. greatness was established early. and Lara in his incandescence. subject to moods. Because by then he had passed that simple yet all-important test that defines greatness: you could place him in any age. Sehwag had more runs. Once. They had the gift. whose eye never left the ball. But these two players fell short of greatness because their brilliance was fleeting. Sehwag’s numbers were superior to Sachin Tendulkar ’s after the same number of games.[ 3 ] The man who acquired greatness SAMBIT BAL T he word “great” is subject to such careless and persistent abuse that you need to draw the lines afresh before you can use it properly. Their averages – in the forties – point to several lows and inconsistencies. who every once in a while can raise his game to a level where only genius can exist. There are ways and ways to measure greatness. and you could say that he would score plenty of runs and score them with authority. To watch them dispatch good balls to the boundary was to feel blessed. but rarely did you see him duck into . more hundreds. Watching a bouncer being hooked is among the most thrilling sights in cricket. Or perhaps at least that the commonly held definitions of what constitutes genius are a tad narrow. the genius. To see a good ball hit for four is a spectacle. and because it was so utterly comprehensible and lacking in mystique. With Tendulkar. against any bowlers. any conditions. They made you feel grateful for their genius. Yet Tendulkar was already a great player by his 50 Test. Dravid’s batsmanship was often taken for granted because it was so firmly rooted in time-worn traditions – leaving the good balls. Tendulkar in his precocity. or Viv Richards before them. but was it really one of the great innings? Was it even among Sehwag’s greatest? To take the discussion further. not hitting in the air or on the up. surviving a great ball requires no less skill. Theirs was a greatness easy to notice because they were different from the rest. and their careers are poignant reminders that uncommon gifts alone do not guarantee greatness.

Almost always. he often says. on the other hand. Sourav Ganguly brought the charge. Dravid meant much more than the numbers. lynchpin of Indian batting. and between 2001 and 2006. is such a fulfilling experience because it challenges the mind continuously for four or five days. Test cricket. Dravid’s peak. and so are statistics. Dravid was India’s most dependable. when the ball curled in the air and fizzed off the pitch. he batted India to victory by scoring 305 runs in the two innings. they can sometimes even be tedious to watch (though Dravid was a beautiful batsman in his own right). He benefited from two umpiring decisions and a fielding lapse. but to many the essence of a cricketer ’s greatness lies in what his performances have meant to the team. That Dravid has a better average away from home should only add to the glow. and when survival became an end in itself. England and Australia. and of course. in every Indian Test win abroad in his time. coincided with a period of wholesome progress for Indian cricket. But to his team. Dravid’s other great strength was also intangible. Barring Multan in 2004. He was the model professional. but whichever way you look at it. In Adelaide in 2003. made as his team crumbled around him. Even on the tour of Australia in 2008. and entirely invisible. Dravid belonged to that priceless breed of champions whose mental resolve is at its strongest when the situation is dire. The manner of playing is a fair pointer.a bouncer. However. Rahul Dravid made the 2000s his own. Tendulkar stirred the imagination. It didn’t help that the Indian national side was hostage to ad hoc amateurism at the time. Dravid was there. often the critical one. the heart of his greatness doesn’t lie in the numbers but rather in the circumstances in which they have been compiled. he played a vital hand in setting up what has been India’s only Test win in Perth. South Africa and England were all solos. he was the pivot around which the Indian batting revolved. and most of all. West Indies and England. what they have meant for his team. but as was the case with the five hundreds that came before that innings. when he was in the middle of one of the roughest phases of his career. The true indications of Dravid’s greatness came when batting called for more than driving on the up. and in many ways Dravid was the singular embodiment of this progress. His 270 in Rawalpindi in 2004 wasn’t his most flawless innings. when a situation called for a batsman to stand up and be counted. His brilliant hundreds in Australia. It is Tendulkar ’s misfortune that his best years as a batsman coincided with India’s most abject ones as a team. Sachin Tendulkar was India’s batsman of the ‘90s. he averaged more than 60. But they are the kind whose presence every team is grateful for. an average of over 50 in more than 150 Tests should be enough to grant a player his place in history. 21 of his 36 hundreds came away from home. The batting average is only one parameter to judge a batsman by. But he did not merely provide India’s dazzling batsmen with a cushion. it came when India needed it most. . wholehearted team man. and set up wins in Sri Lanka. His batting was as much about technical virtuosity as it was about the mind. and a couple of nineties. but without fanfare Dravid became the backbone of Indian cricket Batsmen like Dravid don’t bring a song to a spectator ’s heart. progressive leader. when India won 26 out of 66 Tests. he played a hand. He saved them from defeats in South Africa. most consistent and most valuable batsman. To India’s enormous fortune. occupying the crease for 835 minutes. Dravid’s figures were outstanding: he averaged more than 53 abroad.

In some ways that is the greater achievement.Some are born to greatness. . Rahul Dravid acquired it. who has seven in the West Indies. Only one Indian has scored more Test centuries in an overseas country – Sunil Gavaskar. Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo Dravid scored six Test hundreds in England.

Early in his career he looked a player with the kind of talent that. when most other Indian batsmen walked to the pitch feeling inferior.000 Test runs. unlike some of his Indian contemporaries. rare talent. Dravid’s basic talent can be found in many. Glenn McGrath’s success with this method helped it gain popularity. These days most bowlers focus on containment. That his fans still feel disappointed with him. mental strength. ever since his phenomenal debut series in the West Indies in 1971. He always looked a Test prospect but not a prodigy who promised greatness. And I say this in a positive sense.000 runs at an average of over 52 in 164 Tests. Gavaskar and Tendulkar. Dravid’s career average is just a shade below Tendulkar ’s. but in the ‘70s and ‘80s “get ‘em out” was the mantra. he eventually mastered them. He respected his opponents but. he also got himself 13. there were celebrations in India. for Dravid is the least gifted on that list. he never considered himself weaker than them. so he needed to draw on reserves of will. every run he got in Tests after 3000 seemed an over-achievement. I believe Dravid can be a more realistic batting role model for young Indian batsmen than a Tendulkar. Gavaskar played at a time when the bowling attacks of most teams around the world were formidable. after all that he has achieved. That is a great achievement. Gavaskar would typically take the heat for four hours or more before he felt he could dominate the bowlers. It is . shows that for them he is no less than god. That just might renew belief in virtues that youngsters are given to finding old-fashioned these days: a sound technique and a strong mind. if combined with hard work. it was taken for granted. It is an interesting exercise. This method came into fashion when the batsmen began to attack more: it made sense to keep the ball just outside the off stump and let the batsman make a mistake. in the final session. It was a long-awaited moment. who courageously took on the bowling giants of the 1970s and ‘80s. and a good defensive game. Dravid story. so immense is his ability that when he reached the heights he did. As for Sachin Tendulkar. With Dravid. who sometimes feel inferior to a fellow player blessed with considerable natural talent. He has tried to keep himself away from comparisons. Back then all those fine bowlers tried everything possible to get Gavaskar out. could get him into the Indian side. And in a team sport like cricket. Dravid worked very hard. While Tendulkar is a prodigious. but what he has made of it is the rare. Dravid is an inspiration for young players. a Sehwag or a VVS Laxman. Gavaskar had looked likely to overhaul the mark. almost unbelievable. As it turned out. but it is inevitable now that he will be viewed alongside these two. Not only did Gavaskardefy all those bowlers.[ 4 ] The grit to be great SANJAY MANJREKAR W hen Sunil Gavaskar became the first to 10. Gavaskar was a classy defensive batsman. Today most bowlers are looking to “bowl in the right areas”. Dravid now stands on equal footing with the two great entities of Indian cricket. He wasn’t as gifted as Tendulkar is. and not only did he play for India.

makes you complicate a game that is played best when it is kept simple. It took Tendulkar two seasons to test the waters at the international level before proceeding to dominate the game like no Indian had done before. his flaws and so on. it is argued. a shot that bailed him out of many tight situations in Tests. However. When his place in the one-day team came up for scrutiny early in the 2000s. I thought Dravid was doing precisely that: thinking too much about his game. a good defensive batsman with great patience. Gavaskar did have mental strength but he had occasional indiscretions. Like all batsmen of his time. alongside him. He seemed to tone down the obsession over his game and his technique. It is rare to see a defensive batsman come through the modern system. Just that Dravid was rehearsing the shot at a dinner table in a restaurant! This trait made me wonder whether this man. He clearly stands above Gavaskar and Dravid in terms of sheer batting ability. Tendulkar was already a phenomenon. Tendulkar was blessed with outrageous talent that he never took for granted. Dravid was fortunate in a sense that when he arrived in 1996. He had one shot that is uncommon in a defensive Indian batsman: the pull. perhaps. the largest mental reserves. He also has a disciplined cricket mind that has never allowed his aggressive batting to breed arrogance. After Gavaskar. In Dravid’s batting. and it is a stroke he had from the outset. was going to over-think his game and throw it all away. Dravid’s transition from then on as a batsman. Those were times when leaving a ball got nods of approval and admiration from spectators. that he had not yet recovered from the last mammoth effort. He reminded me a bit of myself. No problem with that. Not to say that Dravid was all defensive. Dravid played the bulk of his cricket in an era when defensive batting was considered almost a handicap. Somewhere down the line. 3 for India. so as to reserve his best for Test matches. and started . Gavaskar was a great defensive batsman who took on the best at their best and won. Being a thinker in cricket. you saw the same intensity in every international innings he played. and especially as a valuable one-day batsman. life would have been easier for him. That helped him focus on his own game and avoid looking at it in comparison to Tendulkar ’s. was inspiring. His progress in this period gave us our first insights into his great mind. like Dravid. on the other hand. I think Dravid managed to strike the right balance. Dravid had accepted that Tendulkar was the best and all he could do was fight for second place. It is a superb instinctive stroke against fast bowling. As young cricketers we were often reminded to not think too much – and sometimes reprimanded by our coaches and senior team-mates for doing so. much to everyone’s relief. everyone does it. who we all knew by then was going to be the next No. Ganguly wanted someone sensible and dependable. He also took one-day cricket lightly. has flourished. arrived Tendulkar.against just this sort of bowling that Dravid. He was lucky to have Sourav Ganguly as captain. if Dravid had played in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Dravid perhaps had the strongest mind among the three. I must confess. which gave you cause to think that the great man was not really tuned in that day. whose exploits proved to the next generation of players that Indians could be batting masters of the world. it was a difficult period for Dravid because he wasn’t very good at the shorter form of the game at the time. Dravid’s attitude at the start of his career concerned me. though. I once saw him shadow-play a false shot that had got him out.

you think of hitting over the infield. to get a hundred.obsessing over success instead. batting becomes a bit of a struggle for players like Dravid. not him. though. A version of this article was published in Cricinfo Magazine in 2006 Dravid bowled 20 overs in his Test career. It is a temptation that many defensive batsmen succumb to after hours at the crease. Perhaps he looked a lot more studious and intense on television to us than he actually is out there. Once he got past 50. Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar is a cricket commentator and presenter on TV. He was quite happy batting on 20 when his partner had raced to 60 in the same time. and Dravid is among the finest illustrations of that fact. When the patience starts to wear. Dravid knew this was something Sehwag could get away with. he resisted the temptation to do anything different to quickly get to the next stage of the innings. I believe. Those middleclass values are. and took one wicket for 39 runs: that of West Indies wicketkeeper Ridley Jacobs. where it did not matter to him if he was stuck on 80 or 90 for an hour. when saving runs rather than taking wickets is the general approach of teams. for example. Life cannot have been easy for a defensive batsman in this age. India’s greatest strength. he sometimes seemed to get into this “mental freeze” state. . It’s the kind of person that he is. That Dravid has played more innings that have mattered for the team is not a coincidence. in the Antigua Test in 2002. the kind a school teacher will give ten out of ten to in an assessment: the sort of perfect role model that the Indian middle-class family value system often throws up. A defensive batsman’s forte is his ability to defend the good balls and hit the loose ones for four. It is a struggle he was content with. But with bowlers often looking to curb batsmen by setting defensive fields. He did not commit the folly of being embarrassed about grinding when everyone around him was attacking and bringing the crowd to their feet.

he said. He was a predominantly bottom-hand player. an on-side player. confessed to being. an innings punctuated with an array of breathtaking cover drives. We had levelled a series for the first time in a long time in that country. The bowlers had come to know of his strengths and had stopped feeding him on his legs. On the flip side. Just a few days ago he had stunned everyone with his stupendous double-century in Adelaide. it meant fewer front-foot strokes on the off side. When he started out. but Dravid had already become my go-to man. Years later that chat with Dravid made me go back and search for videos of him batting early in his career. even those pitched within the stumps. in spite of the bowlers finding him out. He had to stay . What I found made me respect Dravid.[ 5 ] A cricketer most evolved AAKASH CHOPRA I still fondly recall that brisk summer evening in Australia in early 2004. a senior team-mate and my hero. my mentor. for queries to do with technique and temperament. Which was how he became one of cricket’s outstanding offside batsmen. I wanted to know if the confession had just been an attempt to pep me up. Dravid said that because he grew up playing on jute matting wickets. in fact. forced him to make a huge loop at the top of the backlift. they were not coming as briskly as he would have liked. piercing the smallest gaps with surgical precision. How could one believe that his impeccable off-side play didn’t come naturally to him? It was only my second series for India. mid-off was rarely brought into play. he became a good back-foot player and also strong on the legs. but he did. sat next to me in a rather cheery dressing room. for the bounce allowed him to work balls. He didn’t have to expose chinks in his armour when he answered. That was an overwhelming revelation for me: what seemed like second nature to Dravid had been. provided there was width on offer. But though the runs were coming. and I hesitantly spoke to him about my batting. he was eager to help. what struck me was his honesty and humility – which I believe are the first steps towards greatness. Dravid. Dravid used to crouch a lot more in his stance. Besides the many things that I picked up from him that day. His bat. His confession had been in response to my concern about my inability to score big runs despite getting good starts. In fact. coupled with his immense patience. coming from the direction of gully. practised and perfected. As always. He had to find another way to score runs. in his classic self-effacing way. more. Both the backlift and the falling head allowed him to punish anything that was even marginally on his legs. The knowledge of where his off stump was. hoping to get his two cents. the man and the batsman. ensured Dravid continued to score bucketfuls of runs in Test cricket. for the most part. with his head falling over a bit towards the off side. Rahul Dravid. towards the on side. His wide backlift also made him a good cutter of the ball. he said.

lbw or caught behind? Knowing Dravid. It must have taken hundreds of hours of practice to get it into his system. but it was a gamble he had been ready to take. Dravid would. with his line that goes across the right-hander. so as to make it absolutely seamless. That’s why he chose to not get behind the line of the ball at all times. forced Dravid to play at deliveries he would have left alone if his front foot had not gone so far across. nothing was unachievable. to ensure he stayed beside the ball more often. if he had decided to play on. and also started to use his top hand a lot more. though. the challenge was to find a solution to a technical glitch. When you think you have mastered your biggest shortcoming and can breathe easy. but a batsman will tell you that it is perhaps the toughest one to make. Nothing great was ever accomplished without passion. Eliminating the trigger movement is sort of like engaging fifth gear right after turning on the ignition in a car. He went on to have the best Test series of his career in England in 2011. While the back-andback trigger movement worked really well for Dravid. which allowed him to free his arms while playing through the off. While this method worked well in Test cricket. Dravid had been aware of the risks involved. That may sound like a simple adjustment. Even though the movement occurs before the ball is bowled. Yet the adjustment he had made meant he didn’t have a second line of defence – so if he was beaten. and is only a few centimetres. and that eventually cost him his place in the ODI team. but it also blurs your judgement of lines. So instead of going back and across. An ardent follower of the Gavaskar school of batting. Dravid’s answer was to completely eliminate the trigger movement and stay perfectly still till the bowler released the ball. yet again. it needed some tinkering with in the shorter format. something else that is unwanted creeps into your system. He needed to find ways to open up his off-side play. There was a hullabaloo about Dravid’s dismissals in Australia – as if being bowled was dishonourable. Change didn’t mean only survival for him. it’s as important as the movement after the ball is bowled. and then further across to get behind the line of the ball. Being dismissed essentially means being beaten by a bowler. Dravid went through the grind. his front foot started going a bit too far across in the process. Dravid got out fishing outside the off stump on more than a few occasions. he was likely to get bowled. to address the slip. he would have found ways.longer at the crease to accumulate his runs. And the catch is that it will not work if you are constantly thinking about not moving. And that was what happened in Australia. where he not only got runs but was extremely fluent in getting them. That was not the end of it. Perhaps that is what made him the most evolved cricketer of this era. Mitchell Johnson. These tweaks were successful and Dravid went on to play his finest cricket in that period. The movement across the stumps allows you to cover the swing a little better. The only thing you should be thinking about while standing is your response to the delivery. His desire for growth was intense enough to work on both conscious and unconscious levels: while he intentionally worked on his . with regard to deciding which deliveries to play and which to leave alone. Once again. it also meant the maturity to create endlessly. And uncharacteristically. For him. The trigger movement sets the body in motion and allows it to get into the right positions to meet the ball. What difference does it make if one is bowled. go back and across before the ball was bowled. not struck on the pad. he preferred going back and back. when he started out.

trigger movement and playing beside the line, things like his stance – which was more upright in the
latter half of his career – and the straighter descent of the bat happened almost automatically over the
In cricket, as in life, it is not the most talented who survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones
who are most responsive to change. Dravid’s career was an eternal quest to get better. Everything he
did was to, as he puts it best, “deliver the bat at the right time”.
Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan’s 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory.
This article was first published on March 19, 2012 on ESPNcricinfo

Dravid opened the innings only 23 times in Tests, but he scored four centuries in those innings. Only six Indian
openers have scored more hundreds: Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Navjot Sidhu, Wasim
Jaffer and Vinoo Mankad.

[ 6 ]

A fascinating captain and the job he fell out of love with

ahul Dravid became the best batsman, wicketkeeper, short leg, silly point and slip he could
become. It is a fairly prosaic, unglamorous thing to say of a cricketer, but it is a difficult achievement
to pull off. To use every bit of talent and time; to be in the right physical, psychological and
emotional state to do so. As a player, Dravid did just that.
Dravid the captain was a different story; more fascinating and contradictory too. He brought more
natural talent and flair to captaincy than he did to batting, yet it can be argued Dravid didn’t become
the best captain he could have been. Having recently become a father when he took over captaincy full
time, he strove to look at cricket as just a sport, not more, which should in part explain the sense of
adventure he brought to captaincy – he hated losing, didn’t fear it. Yet so careworn had he become by
the end of it all that he uncharacteristically sat on a series lead in his last Test in charge. No followon, despite a 319-run lead against England at The Oval, no push for a win.
Dravid brought dynamism to India’s ODI cricket, shaking up a team in flux, defending small totals
with attacking fields, refusing formulaic captaincy, yet the lasting memory of him as ODI captain
remains that March afternoon in the West Indies when India were knocked out in the first round of the
World Cup.
Dravid knew that in India a captain, a team, are always judged by how they do in World Cups. It was
as if in those three matches in Trinidad, all the good work of the previous years had been undone. He
didn’t quit immediately, but by the end of the England tour later that year, he was a spent man. The
tension that the clashes between the coach, Greg Chappell, and some Indian players – both parties
equally headstrong – brought, the expectations, the intensity, they all consumed him. One fine day in
2007 he let go. He had stopped enjoying it.
That, though, wasn’t the case when Dravid was first made the full-time captain, in late 2005. Don’t
get it wrong: he surely enjoys his batting, but during some of Dravid’s best efforts with the bat you
could imagine him gritting his teeth and going through an unpleasant experience others had shirked.
Captaincy, you could see, he enjoyed. Small tricks on the field, big plans off it. He had acumen, he had
vision, and most importantly, as he said in an interview in January 2006, the will to “keep the game
Naturally intelligent, a balanced individual, a fan of Mark Taylor ’s captaincy, Dravid was arguably
India’s most tactically proficient and aggressive on-field captain. There was something delightfully
unpredictable about India under him. In November 2003, standing in as captain, Dravid opened an
ODI innings with a spinner. In the famous two-and-a-half-day Test in Mumbai in 2004-05, standing in
again, he introduced Murali Kartik ahead of Anil Kumble, while defending just 106. In Multan he
declared with Sachin Tendulkar on 194 because it made cricketing sense to him that the Pakistan
openers be given a thorough examination before stumps; it was a flat pitch, and India would need time
to force a result.

When he got the reins full-time, he left a Dravid imprint on the team. Before his first Test as fulltime captain, he tried to make team meetings more interactive, getting senior players to speak about
some of their experiences. Soon he took India to Pakistan, and on a flat pitch he played with five
bowlers. If a man could bring this edge to India-Pakistan Tests, long infamous for the teams’ fear of
losing to the arch enemy, and thus for drab cricket, that man could be dangerous with the right
bowlers to back him up. Three Tests later he played five bowlers, against England in Mohali,
dropping his good friend and the player of the best innings ever played in Tests, VVS Laxman.
Under Dravid, India began to focus on bowlers, under him India won their first Test in South
Africa, their first series in the West Indies since 1971, and their first in England since 1986. The
salesmen often credit the IPL for India’s big chases in ODIs of late, but back in the days of two
formats, 14 of India’s record 17 consecutive successful chases came under Dravid.
However, setting fields, picking XIs, managing bowling changes, pushing for wins, staying
aggressive, keeping the game moving forward, is just one part of the job – especially in India. The
assumption that everybody who has made it to the India team will respect everybody else, will do his
best to win matches, will not have differences with team-mates, that a captain will not have to go out
of his way to maintain harmony among a group of individuals with the same goals, is as idyllic as it
is adult. An India captain has to understand various equations in a side, has to, at times, bring himself
down to the level of intellect of the other or raise his own. He also has to deal, fight, argue and work
with the selectors, who have to balance the interests of their zones with national ones. It is near
impossible for an India captain to stay apolitical. Equally a thick skin is a must.
During Dravid’s time, the need for such a leader soon arose. All it took was an outsider, another
complex personality, the domineering and outspoken coach, Chappell, trying to bring his ideas to
India. It was arguably the most tumultuous and divisive period in Indian cricket. It was also the dirtiest
time. In these cases, who is right and who is wrong is often inconsequential. Was Chappell not right in
suggesting that Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan get fit when he did? Was Chappell not right in
suggesting that India have an eye on the future? At the same time, were the players lying when they
say that Chappell created an atmosphere of insecurity, fear, humiliation and mistrust in the dressing
room? The truth will never come out even if every party involved writes books.
The only absolute truth is that the loss was that of the Indian cricket team – Dravid’s team. His
vision was torn apart, his achievements as captain forgotten. For all popular purposes, he was now
just Chappell’s puppet – a notion lacking respect, and given strength by Sourav Ganguly’s comments
in 2011 that Dravid didn’t have the guts to stand up to Chappell. The fact, though, was that even Dravid
wanted fitter cricketers who were not stagnating, but perhaps he couldn’t control the personality flaws
of everyone else involved.
It is a measure of Dravid the person that even when Chappell was being written off by almost
everyone, Dravid did not dissociate himself from the former coach. He still talked of those days using
the pronoun “we”. And he admitted things could have been done differently, that perhaps personalities
could have been handled differently. “I think when you look back at any stage of your career, there
are things you could have done differently, and that captaincy period is no different,” he said. “In
terms of intention, of what we were trying to achieve, I have no doubt in my mind that it was on the
right path. Sure, we made mistakes, sure, there were things that we did right, and maybe some of the
results didn’t show up right away. They did show up later on, but that’s just the way it is.”
And so cricket ceased being just sport. It became something bigger that consumed everything: the

played on slow and low pitches ideally suited to India’s style of play. Munaf Patel has just become the last man dismissed. though. and thus out of the tournament. less intense people. hoping desperately for results in the World Cup. Now he gets up. Is it a tear he is trying to hide? It’s like something has left him. Among batsmen who scored at least 750 World Cup runs only Viv Richards has a better average (1013 runs at 63. This was during the England tour. through some miracle of the order of Headingley 1981. Shrewder man-managers. the fans. that trying to be the best captain he could be is not as easy as being the best cricketer he could be. Dravid has been chewing his nails.31). That let on in no uncertain terms that he was afraid of losing. Kumble consoles him. with Dinesh Karthik and Anil Kumble sitting next to him. Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo Dravid scored 860 runs in World Cups at an average of 61. . might have done better. the performances. the players. the media. daily activities he used to look forward to earlier were now chores. runs his left hand across his eye. where he settled for a 1-0 series win. External factors began to matter much more. on that March afternoon in Trinidad. He admitted there were days when he woke up not looking forward to captaining India. Dravid the captain’s goose. It is clear. It was the most poignant sight of his career. the other took the remaining two quarters. of what people might say if he lost.42. though.administrators. with India 69 short of Sri Lanka’s 254. was cooked months before. in an attempt to add to India’s meagre five wins in England. Caught between all this was the captain. One party manoeuvred one half. Everything was draining. because ultimately only that would matter in India come Judgement Day. During those days Dravid was very much the great tactician accidentally captaining the wrong side. a team he didn’t know at all. and Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag in the row behind. The whole nation was divided.

Rahul Dravid’s vigil in both innings of that Test marked a watershed moment. at most. had helped salvage a draw. the balance. but I would like to believe that I can get better. I have really worked on my physical fitness.[ 7 ] ‘The best batting happens when you are batting in the present’ INTERVIEW BY SAMBIT BAL December 2003 ill Adelaide 2003. because there isn’t any one thing I have done differently. and the maturity gathered over the years. and after an unexpected burst from Ajit Agarkar set the stage. Also. I am batting better. It is generally accepted that the best years for a batsman are around the age of 30. This interview was conducted a few days later. you scored some runs. Actually. You’ve hardly had a bad series since that big hundred against Australia in Kolkata. It’s not that I have made a conscious decision to go out and play more strokes. With experience you learn to trust your game more than you did as a youngster. Given that he has always been a man of method. It is the confidence of doing well consistently. I am getting runs. the head position. I think I am getting into better positions while playing – the body position. Even in New Zealand [2002-03]. Do you think you’re at the peak of your game at the moment? I’d like to believe not. His double-hundred in the first saved India from catastrophe. You certainly seem more positive about your strokeplay. Let’s put it this way: I’m batting better than I have ever batted before. Since then you have not really failed in series anywhere. Your last truly bad series was in Australia [1999-00]. Things didn’t go well after that but I got a 39 in the second Test and I was batting quite well when I got out to a rank bad ball. but his thoughtfulness and power of articulation make him a wonderful interviewee. but never have I felt that this is it and that this is the best I can do. in his hotel room in sleepy Hobart. I was keen to explore the processes of batting. Can you pinpoint any aspect of your game that you feel has improved? I can’t pinpoint any one thing. unique to every batsman. I am getting into better positions. I think it’s a question of everything coming together. His press conferences can often be dull because he chooses to play safe. most epic performances by Indian batsmen on foreign soil had either been in T vain or. I am more positive because I am more confident. The conditions were really tough. I thought I was playing quite well in New Zealand. I have a few years of experience at international level now. Dravid made sure India got over the ropes. with him. Let’s put it another way: is there any weakness that you have managed to eliminate? I have looked at all areas of my game and worked hard on all of them. What were the lessons from that bad series in Australia? . It is a combination of things. and certainly I am in a better state of mind. so it all adds up. I have batted well in the last couple of years. The 70 that I got in the first Test I rate quite highly among all my knocks.

Sides now bat deep and a lot more runs are scored. like playing with soft hands. which wasn’t a bad start. fail because you got bogged down? I was out of form. So I made a conscious effort to develop these two shots. You obviously place a lot of importance on thinking about your game? Oh. I didn’t fail last time because I played fewer shots. I had more doubts about my game in that period than I’ve ever done. So you learn other skills to score runs. And I was quite conscious thatI needed to play these shots well if I was ever picked for the national side. Did this change your approach to batting? I was conscious of the fact that I needed to improve if I wanted to come back into the one-day team. I got a 35. With the kind of bounce you get on matting. For a while you were not an automatic choice for the one-day team. especially abroad. But in the Test matches I just didn’t bat well. I had to look hard at which areas needed work. The mind does help sharpen your skills. They are just not an option. Being left out of the team is not a nice feeling. it’s easy to lose these shots. No two ways about it. When I look at some of my old videos I realise that I was perhaps driving much less then. and I learned things about myself and my game. things would have been different. When you are in the right frame of mind. But I am getting more forward now. What do you think really went wrong in Australia on that tour? Did you. But I always kept working on them because I knew I would need them abroad. I went back and worked on certain areas of my one-day game. because most times I wasn’t batting long enough. a lot of things fall into place. I remember people like [Javagal] Srinath telling me that if I wanted to do well abroad. and perhaps if I had converted that into a 70 or 80. I was on my own. I was hardly spending time in the crease. That really helped develop my back-foot game. who was also a good technician. But after that. You were dropped on a few occasions too. Let’s just say that I wasn’t good enough and they were too good for me. Experience teaches you things. Three Tests against Australia and then hardly a break before we played two Tests against South Africa at home. Maybe earlier I used to go into one-day games thinking of batting a lot of overs. like Sanjay Manjrekar before you. to a new environment where I could just relax and be myself and play cricket and enjoy it. you need to cut and pull well. and my front-foot driving is more sure. I got out to balls that I had lost track of. but I knew I had to get better. yes. Things got better as the tour went on. It’s not very natural for an Indian player to be a good cutter. What really helped were my six months of county cricket in England. I had to cut and pull well. I had to adjust my thought processes to that. You pull quite well too. I knew I had certain strengths that were useful to the team. it varies from situation to .That whole phase was quite tough for me. One-day cricket has changed a bit. and I got a few runs in the one-dayers. I was not getting into good positions. Is there anything you feel you are doing better now? Any particular stroke that you think you are playing better? I think I’m driving a little better on the off side. It came at the right time because I needed to get away. because on those wickets you don’t really need them. it’s a shot I have always played well. trying out a few new strokes. In Adelaide. it teaches you to think differently and helps you play differently. I was not batting well. I didn’t feel confident. Sometimes while playing in domestic cricket. That’s because I played a lot of cricket on matting wickets. People don’t give you too many balls to drive in international cricket. I was always a good cutter. I can’t describe what the right frame of mind is.

It is a process of self-discovery. How do you prepare for a match? I try to have as many nets as possible in the last couple of days before the match. I stop. I replay in my mind the memories of my last encounter with them. A wicket has just fallen. It gives you a sense of where your off stump is. There is always a bat in the dressing room. their strengths and weaknesses. because sometimes you may not have facilities at the ground. You need that bit of nervous energy. You feel the butterflies in the stomach every time you walk out to bat.situation. I try to analyse the kind of bowlers I will be playing. the bowling changes. If you have a set routine. I have a look at the wicket. I would love a full toss on leg stump. then it can be counter-productive. what mistake I committed. I always get up a couple of hours before we have to get to the ground. do things in an unhurried way. And I do my best to be in a relaxed state of mind. if the facilities permit. “I must do this and this”. Of course. What kind of first ball do you like to receive? Are you happier leaving it. regardless of whether you have played 100 Tests or ten. because it takes too much energy. and you are making your way out. structuring my thoughts. I try to think about how I got out. perhaps to a great ball. Then I start thinking about the match. do a bit of stretching to get the blood circulation going. . I hold the bat in my hands and go through some of the shots I might play. then have a little conversation with the other batsman. Do you do visualisation? A little bit. so that I have plenty of time to get ready. If a bowler got me out the last time. I never put any pressure on myself. if you say. or do you like it hitting the middle of your bat? I have thought about this. and that sort of sets up my mood for the rest of the day. It’s always nice to feel the ball in the middle of the bat. I might have a cup of tea and talk to someone sitting next to me. I watch the game. wear my clothes. The facilities in Australia are very good. which is quite important because it makes you feel that you are not alone out there. I look at field settings. I try to go out in the light and watch. I try to slow things down a couple of days before the game. It gives you the confidence that you won’t be forced to play a lot of balls that you don’t have to play. I take my time to have a bath. I walk around. The morning of the match. Then. eat breakfast. it tells you that you are switched on. If it’s a long partnership. because that’s when I play at my best. I think about the game but I am quite relaxed. if it’s hot and sweaty. maybe I will skip it. Describe what happens when you walk out to the middle. What might make me a little nervous and a little tense might not make another player nervous. I like to conserve my mental energies for batting in the middle. so I might have a net. It also depends on weather. I never rush things. I have long lunches. You do feel nervous. I look at the wicket. When I feel comfortable with my game. What do you do while waiting for your turn to bat? I try to be relaxed. from player to player. I like to get in quite quickly. But I don’t get into the game. Before sleeping the previous night I spend 15 minutes running through the next day and how I would like it to pan out for me. the bounce. At some grounds the practice pitches are so bad that it can actually harm your confidence to bat on them. it gets my legs moving. I look at videos if they’re available. I would worry if I didn’t feel it. I try to be flexible about my routine. but at the beginning of an innings it’s good to be able to leave as many balls as possible. All that I am thinking at that moment is that I want to be there for the second ball. I have a net at the ground.

to respond to that ball. I play every ball in the nets like I would in a match. and sometimes you even do well without it. the condition of the pitch or the previous ball. cover-driving is not always the best option. England and South Africa really give you a lot of freedom with your strokeplay. You need to be flexible. so I kind of know my stroke options. then that’s it. If I think the conditions will help swing and seam in a match. energy. Of course. During a long innings. It’s very difficult to generate power on the square-of-the-wicket strokes. So I might think that I’ll try to hang on till tea maybe. it’s a special feeling. because the ball is doing a bit. because you know how it feels. Can you describe how it is facing a ball in the middle? Sachin Tendulkar once said that the ideal mental condition is to have a blank mind. If you can blank the mind. before I use that shot. when you are playing well. But it is not a percentage shot in the morning. It’s very rarely that I would have a casual net. Sometimes you can have your fears and your doubts and still come away scoring runs. It’s about controlling the controllables. you have patches of 30 or 40 minutes when you think that you had that. I know the things that I should not do. How does being in the zone affect your batting? To start with. It’s the closest you can come to purity. In India the stroke-making options are very limited. hands and eyes are responding only to that moment. I always treat nets as a match. It is possible to blank your mind. on the first morning of a Test match. I will drive it. I also have chats with other batsmen in the team to see if their reading of the wicket matches mine.How you do you plan an innings? I have had a look at the wicket earlier. That helps my concentration. but you can’t create it consciously. And then you are able to respond to each ball purely on its merit. you would always be in that state. The best batting happens when you are batting in the present. It’s the closest you feel to being in the zone. If you could. I really hate getting out in the nets. Particularly if I am struggling with my concentration or if I want to take my focus away from negative thoughts. Your mind. I create the sort of intensity that I would need in a match. You can’t control the last ball or the next ball. you pick up the line and length of the ball more clearly. Concentration is one of the strongest aspects of your game. How can you create this state? You can’t. your concentration. Sometimes telling yourself to concentrate doesn’t work. but if you can be fully present to play the ball at hand. if I get a half-volley. For instance. just to knock a few balls around. I might say. I always try to work on it in the nets. That’s the ideal situation. so you try to focus on something else. Is that something you’ve always had? Some of it is natural but a lot comes with practice. once you are set. It happens at times. You might think the pitch will behave in a certain way. and much earlier. and it can turn out to be completely different. you can really play all your shots. you are confident… but it comes and goes. Driving and edging in the nets is not okay with me. While batting. I will try to leave as much as I can outside the off stump in the nets. suspend your thoughts and just watch the ball and react to it without cluttering your thinking. and that’s the challenge. Places like Australia. are you always looking at the ball? I mean not only from the bowler’s hand but also tracking it from the wicketkeeper’s gloves? I do that sometimes. It’s something you aspire to. that’s the ideal situation. But you . bring all your mind. You are not thinking about the state of the match. I will just watch the ball for the next couple of overs.

I was quite determined to not let that happen again. But it happened that day. But batsmen of that era – even the other equipment wasn’t good then – I have huge respect for them. that you always want to be there at the end. that whatever happened I would try to be there at the end. Greg [King]. What goes through your mind when you benefit from a dropped catch? You’re glad to still be there. so we had to win. we were a bit nervous. If you are physically exhausted. And when you get hit? It makes me more determined. I can never imagine playing fast bowling without a helmet because I grew up playing with helmets. It happened in the West Indies [2001-02]. I’m not done yet. John [Wright]. the greater your chances of reaching that condition. all of us. To play that quality of fast bowling without protection is a very special thing. We had lost a lot of matches we should have won in the past. I don’t know. and how I would have reacted without a helmet. We have worked so hard as a team. A few months ago I was told I would always be remembered for that 148 at Headingley [in 2002]. Of course. it’s difficult to focus your mind. I really admire the cricketers who played fast bowling without helmets. and it has made me fight and concentrate harder. It’s a sick feeling to think that you could have won. The fitter you are. But you know. and it was a special feeling. I had to give it all I had. That’s why physical fitness is so important. that the Adelaide Test might be remembered as Dravid’s Test? The real significance of it can only be judged after a few years. Andrew [Leipus]. It’s like a wake-up call. Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo. What was the state of your mind on the morning of the last day at Adelaide? We had a quiet confidence. Only after I am done will I know what my best moment was. Did you tell yourself that you wanted to be there at the end? I told myself in the morning that I needed to do whatever it took. You tell yourself that all the time. Has the enormity of the achievement sunk in yet? Are you aware this might be your personal slice of history. and it was natural. I’ve been hit badly only a couple of times. We knew we had a great chance to win and we knew we could do it. It doesn’t always happen. This interview was first published in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine . and the situation demanded that I stayed in.can’t reach that state if you are tired. But you try to put it out of your mind and focus on the next ball.

In the words of his peers .

A gentleman champion of timeless steel and dignity. Ed Smith. 3. Playing T20 cricket won’t teach anyone to become the next Rahul Dravid.It is not an exaggeration to say that a whole strand of the game – a rich vein that runs through the game’s poetic heart – departs the scene with India’s greatest-ever No. page 60 .

I said.[ 8 ] The rock around whom the rest moved JOHN WRIGHT et me begin with a story. I knew he would not only produce runs but would be an extremely good influence on our young players. not those who wanted to come and get a contract. and one evening I went out L with Rahul for a meal. He made a strong call to declare when Sachin was on 190-odd. It had been towed away and he had to get it out of the lock-up. I was aware milestones were important. we had sent a message out to Sachin that he should hurry up in getting to the double. I thought. I told Rahul it was fine if he parked right there. Rahul was a very good player. so right from that stage. He looked very good in defence and knew how to put together an innings. I thought this guy was going to be a really great player. Rahul and I would do the press conference. Kent was a long experience of matches. of course. meals and car rides. to try to make himself a better player. We were having some problems with our batting and needed an overseas professional to bolster it.” We came out of the restaurant after dinner and the car was gone. He took over in Pakistan in 2004 when Sourav was injured. In 2000. and won that first Test in Multan. but our paths had crossed much earlier. and yes. and I think Rahul and I went back a longer way. He had a tough year but he met with the expectations people had of him. We always knew that. When I went to Kent. . while Rahul wanted to experience county cricket. Rahul had known the consequences when he took the decision. Sourav and I had very different styles of working. Technically he stood out. so it may have put me in the frame. The only empty spots we could see were in a parking permit zone. I have to say it was all very casual. Being India’s first foreign coach and living in the country could sometimes be a lonely job. but it was the board’s decision and was beyond them. He is. not orchestrated in any way. and since we were both hungry. very sound and correct. If Sourav turned up late and we were about to leave for a tour. We had seen the likes of Sachin Tendulkar but not someone like Rahul. he knew never to listen to everything I said. and he was someone I could always talk to if I needed a hand. He asked me if I was sure. You saw that he could play outside India. What I do know is. I don’t remember ever having to calm Rahul down. when I first met Sourav and him. I think. I remember telling Sourav and Rahul that if the job came up I’d like to be considered. who would be bothered. He was everything Kent needed then. Rahul had seen how I coached. like Robert Key and Ed Smith. I wanted to sign players who either wanted to make it or wanted to use the experience: players who were hungry. We drove into town but there weren’t many parking spaces to be found. a very calm and smart guy. Kent were playing in Lancashire. It was his first year as a county pro and the main difficulty he seemed to be having in adjusting to England was this business of driving from city to city. I was hugely impressed with both of them. It was late in the evening. He was talented and humble but confident. “Of course. A lot of people ask me what role he had in me getting the India job. It would help them to watch Rahul train. in 1996.

But Sourav was the leader. Yuvraj. like his technique. the dressing-room atmosphere stayed fine. It had a very powerful effect on all of them. brilliant players in different ways. It very quickly became the three of us. if you’re looking for a . Sourav was great as captain – when I look back at it now. I think Rahul always wanted to be – and turned out to be – one of the great batsmen in world cricket and in the history of Indian batting. You can’t do what he did without having inner resolve. He was also the rock of our batting. but you don’t get runs if you don’t have some goals. there weren’t many ways people could get him out. so I’d like to reveal a part of his nature he managed to keep masked by generally being a good person.He always had wonderful leadership qualities. For people like him. Zaheer Mohammad Kaif and Harbhajan came into the team they were all young boys. but I am sure he also had the confidence in his ability to survive when the bowler was on top. what you do is far more important than what you say. He also probably improved his ability to loft the ball. One of the things I found interesting while watching Rahul play in his late 20s was what he was able to get out of the experience and the opposition. the one around whom everything else could move. but then he worked out a way so they couldn’t do that. but with Dravid at the crease the dressing room felt very calm. and dropping the ball on the on side. It is now beginning to strike me that Rahul was always acutely aware of how many runs he had got and what his record was. We never talked about that. getting the singles. and Rahul was a real calming influence. I think it stems from his wonderful defensive technique. At the start people would try to slow him down. I think Sourav counselled them emotionally. He never made the same mistake twice. Kumble. He was always testing himself and worked on whatever needed the time. Tendulkar. He learnt hugely in one-day cricket – which probably was an area he had to work at a little bit more than others. and then there was Rahul. He was able to simulate a game situation. and since he had never pushed for the captaincy. Sourav brought qualities to the team that were rare – but the issue was that both of us were very emotional people. and they learnt a lot from how Rahul and the others practised. when normally you might put it on the off side. There were Sunny Gavaskar and Sachin. There is probably Alastair Cook. It was like he didn’t want to get out even in the nets. he wanted to compete. He had all the shots but he worked hard at turning the strike over. not just by going through the motions but by making every ball count. He had been dropped from the Indian one-day team and then went on to come back and have a very good World Cup. The only thing he used to worry about was his running between the wickets. I have never seen a more dedicated cricketer than Rahul in the nets. If he decided to defend. Much has been written about Rahul’s game and his personality. He was a great student of the game and never made the same mistake twice. People forget how ruthless he was out in the middle. There were times I thought that was the only way they would get him out. particularly when he batted with Sourav. He was an absolutely fierce competitor. we would argue and he would do exactly what he liked. Maybe his type of batsman is going now. It helped me hugely to have Rahul around. Laxman and Dravid were very professional. In a situation when he had three or four bowlers going at him. When Sehwag. and how he managed to remain grounded even in the circus of Indian cricket – but that’s fairly well known. You had Laxman and Tendulkar. We were very driven. We used to bounce a lot of things off each other. or on sorting out some kink.

He was called “Jam” because his father worked for a jam company. John Wright.comparison. Don Bradman had scored 1025 runs in 1948 when he was nearly 40. but few others spring to mind. . when almost 39. India’s coach between 2000 and 2005. spoke to ESPNcricinfo senior editor Sharda Ugra Dravid became the second-oldest batsman to score over 1000 Test runs in a calendar year when he made 1145 runs in 2011. 3. Rahul is the most obvious example of what you want in a defensive No. but I felt a better name for him was “gem”. People trusted him.

He is a man of substance. he always talked about learning. He did not swagger with cockiness or bristle with macho competitiveness. shaking the hand of every Kent player – greeting everyone the same. an international cricketer second. The cricketer was pretty good. curious about the lives of others. it was the natural courtesy of a real gentleman. from the captain to the most junior. he couldn’t fail to convey those qualities to anyone who watched him properly. I last bumped into Dravid late in 2011 at a charity dinner at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Family and friendship. whatever the circumstances or the company. He went quietly round the room. In that sense. Above all. Dravid joined Kent for the 2000 season. Instead. he makes sure he fulfils his duties and obligations without drawing attention to himself or making a fuss. What motivated him still. Gentlemanliness is as much about restraint as it is about appearances.[ 9 ] A gentleman champion of timeless steel and dignity ED SMITH hen Rahul Dravid walked into the dressing room of the St Lawrence ground in Canterbury on a W cold spring morning. Dravid is a true gentleman. Many overseas players liked to set themselves apart from the county pros – as though they had to swear more loudly and clap their hands more violently to prove that international cricketers were tougher than the rest. and I spent much of it at No. Dravid could appear shy and slightly vulnerable off the pitch. Far from it: the real gentleman doesn’t run around flattering everyone in sight. too. in the middle. In the q&a that followed his speech. after all these years and so many runs? Dravid said that as a schoolboy he remembered many kids who had at least as much desire to play professional cricket as he did – they . It emerged between the lines of his performances. The word is often misunderstood. His journey. He never paraded his toughness. coming in one after Dravid (not that he was the departing batsman very often). as though there were many more strands of his craft to hone. he made a point of asking about my parents – their health and happiness – although he has never met them. you could tell. Not Dravid. about gathering new experiences – as though his cricketing education wasn’t complete. was driven by self-improvement. morally serious and intellectually curious. He was the same as he always has been – warm. self-deprecating. he is also constant: always the same. What did I learn? I learnt that real toughness takes many different forms. you could tell he was different from all the others. a gentleman is not only courteous. That meant I had some wonderful opportunities to bat alongside the player who became the highest-scoring No. As ever. you sense. 3 of all time. you sensed a depth of resilience. We met a special human being first. One word has attached itself to Dravid wherever he has gone: gentleman. Where many sportsmen flatter to deceive. are central to his life and his values. one answer got close to the core of his personality. 4. For all his understatement. Gentlemanliness is not mere surface charm – the easy lightness of confident sociability. It was not the mannered behaviour of a seasoned overseas professional. Dravid runs deep.

Dravid single-handedly disproved the absurd argument that tantrums and yobbishness are a sign of “how much you care” or. he worked hard. concise and precise in his movements – a cricketer first. Ed Smith is a former England. Dravid spoke the truth. I have that feeling now. every day. in life and in cricket. This article was first published on ESPNcricinfo on March 13. No longer will he stand at first slip. I think Dravid will be remembered as the last in a great tradition of batsmen whose instincts and temperament were perfectly suited to Test match cricket. most recently. On the field. I owe it to all those who wish it had been them to give my best. And he was never outdone in terms of behaviour or dignity. But I was. that sport is defined by continuity rather than full stops. “I was given a talent to play cricket. In years to come. that there will soon be another Dravid. I do not think that sport is perpetually declining from some mythical golden age. “I don’t know why I was given it. as Dravid declares his innings closed. just as he was restrained in disappointment – exactly as the true gentleman should be. what set Dravid apart was a rare combination of technical excellence. the one never allowed to interfere with the other. He was restrained in celebration. “how much you want it”. I am an optimist by nature. But sometimes I cannot avoid the sense that a certain type of sportsman is an increasingly endangered species.” Dravid explained.attended every camp and net session.” What a brilliant inversion of the usual myth told by professional sportsmen: that they had unexceptional talent and made it to the top only because they worked harder. It is not an exaggeration to say that a whole strand of the game – a rich vein that runs through the game’s poetic heart – departs the scene with India’s greatest-ever No. we may realise what we have lost: the civility. But the hard work was driven by the desire to give full expression to a godgiven talent. But you could tell – from just one ball bowled or one shot played that they simply didn’t have the talent to make it. He knew where the boundaries were. mental toughness and emotional restraint. of Luck – What It Means and Why It Matters. another champion cricketer of timeless steel and dignity. It would be nice to argue that no cricketer is irreplaceable. 2012 . not just waved frantically in an orgy of personal celebration. He knew he was different. 3. Middlesex and Kent player and the author. Those twin aspects of his personality – the dignified human being and the passionate competitor – ran alongside each other. even deference. worse still. an athlete second. No longer will he raise his bat to the crowd as if he is genuinely thanking them for their applause – the bat tilted outwards in acknowledgement of the supporters. But I don’t think there will be. He was rarely outdone in terms of hunger or passion. craft and dignity that Dravid brought to every cricket match in which he played. No longer will he take guard with that familiar hint of politeness. Yes. Playing T20 cricket won’t teach anyone to become the next Rahul Dravid. No longer will the high Dravid back-swing and meticulous footwork link this generation with the great technicians of the past. And yet his emotional self-control coexisted with fierce competitiveness and national pride. no matter what the cost or the difficulty of getting there. perhaps too late.

and one off Venkatapathy Raju. Four of the catches were off Anil Kumble. .Dravid took five catches in the Chennai Test against Australia in 1998.

was not an option. Rahul Dravid is a thinking man’s cricketer. no matter how hard it was. honest. and very dependable. Everything he does on the cricket field and off it is well-considered. and you can’t ask for more than that. I said. He wouldn’t accept that as an answer and insisted that I do better. I remember one such occasion in a Test match at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi during a series against Sri Lanka. When one thinks of survival. Even if you succeeded in surviving. Rahul gave everything he had on the cricket field. Muralitharan took 7 for 100 in the first innings. tough. and when he got the job he was a much better captain than he will ever be credited with. he could make instant adjustments to his game. What’s not to like about him? He is a nice guy who is genuine. This. in which Sachin Tendulkar made a patient century.[ 10 ] The eternal student GREG CHAPPELL M en don’t say these things. Rahul was one of many who had found scoring runs against Muralitharan difficult in the first innings. The wicket was not easy to bat on because it was low and slow. He was an excellent deputy. He became an excellent player because he had thought it through and worked out what he needed to do to succeed. strong. I said. and one hell of a cricketer to boot. and Sri Lanka had a fellow called Muralitharan who could bowl a bit and who was making life difficult for most Indian batsmen. I like that he challenged me to substantiate my arguments with sound reasoning. I also like that once he was convinced. in that he gave whole-hearted support without ever thinking he might be better than the incumbent. If he thought he could get better at something. you wouldn’t make any runs. He is like a child in that he constantly asks questions and then asks why when you give him an answer. He is not prone to making rash decisions or ill-considered remarks. His success did not come by accident and it wasn’t just about hard work. He wasn’t prepared to give less than that. he analysed what he needed to do and then worked hard at making the improvement. so I said that he had to look for scoring opportunities off every ball. who reads in the search of knowledge with which to improve himself. which means that scoring opportunities will be missed. but I have a genuine affection for Rahul Dravid. The best way to build your own confidence and dent that of the bowler is to score off every poor ball he bowls and some of his good . Batting for survival against Murali in those conditions. is a sure way to boost the bowler ’s confidence. he asked me how I thought he could play him better in the second innings. the feet do not move well. Over dinner that night. He was an extremely skillful player who never stopped trying to improve himself. so the game would be lost anyway. Rahul is an avid reader. reliable. I said that under the prevailing conditions I thought it was tough to do more than he had done that day.

he was eminently coachable. who attacked and took wickets in the middle overs. was to look to make the “danger zone” (the area a metre or so in front of a good stride forward) as small as possible by scoring from any delivery pitched marginally full there or short of it. Rahul became excited by the prospect of batting in the second innings and was quick to ask me to throw some balls to him on the outfield the next morning so that he could practise the mindset that we had discussed. I said that it was my opinion that the best way to survive was to be positive in intent. and someone who got bounce. things had to change.ones. He knew that for that to happen. A similar approach to Test cricket brought about India’s first overseas series victory in the West Indies for 35 years and a first-ever Test victory in South Africa. In that way. This approach was far from conservative and was spectacularly successful. Up to that point. To be prepared to do this in the middle of a Test match took courage. which could quite easily have been turned into a series win if the team had batted better in the second innings in the final Test in Cape . Early wickets were important. but so were wickets in the middle overs of a one-day game. Under his leadership. like Munaf Patel. He knew that Pathan found it harder to do that when the ball was soft and the spinners were operating. such as Ramesh Powar. His propensity to think things through may have meant that he was always going to appear conservative tactically. and went on to complete a world record of 17 consecutive wins batting second. Rahul knew from his own experience as a player that success did not come by accident. so he sought to change the way India went about their ODI cricket. More than that. By intending to score runs off every ball one would actually give oneself a better chance of defending against the good balls. Rahul wanted to make India a tougher team. and good finishers who had poise and power – the likes of MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh. This was because they had no plan other than to attack. With the batting. but going by that would be to underestimate his ability to take calculated risks. That he went out and scored a fluent 53 (run out) that day was more about his ability to interpret my suggestion than the suggestion itself. he wanted to use his batting strengths according to situations rather than be tied to a set batting order. It was that sort of courage that made him the player that he was. He could take concepts and turn them into action because of his intelligence and a strong belief in his ability. he wanted partnerships. India had won very few times when chasing a target in ODIs. Rahul decided to reverse the game plan. The only way to do that. He knew that partnerships were important when batting and that the best way to slow the opposition run rate down was to take wickets. such as Irfan Pathan and Sreesanth. India had been happy to try to contain with the ball and attack with the bat. Rahul kept asking the opposition to bat first. India won nine ODIs in a row against Pakistan and England. so he identified bowlers who swung the ball. which could be spectacularly successful or just as spectacularly not. He also wanted a spinner. later in the innings. I said. On occasions he used Pathan at the top of the batting order to utilise his hitting power while the ball was hard and coming on to the bat. He wanted to take wickets regularly. To learn how to get better at chasing a target. The same courage and belief made him a good captain. no matter the conditions. Rahul asked me to explain further.

Sadly the success of the team was not universally enjoyed within the team. Dravid outbowled Anil Kumble. taking 2 for 43 against Kumble’s 0 for 48.Town. . Former Australia batsman Greg Chappell was India’s coach for much of Rahul Dravid’s tenure as captain In an ODI against South Africa in Kochi in 2000. Had he been given the same whole-hearted support in the role that he had given others. Some individuals felt threatened by the new world order and appeared to work against Rahul. I think the recent history of Indian cricket may have been very different and he could have gone on to become the most successful Indian captain ever.

As a youngster. And he gave his complete attention to everything he did. but Rahul bhai always made it a point to listen to us and gave us a lot of confidence through these interactions. As captain. his speeches in the dressing room and on the field were simple. In all my time with the Indian team I never saw him late for anything – training. “Welcome to the league. I got a duck on my international debut. As a young player it was difficult for me. team meetings or any group activity. from time to time.[ 11 ] The master will see you now (and always) SURESH RAINA hen I think of Rahul Dravid. I was really happy when he was the one who gave me my Test cap in 2010 in Sri Lanka. trapped leg-before by Muttiah Muralitharan. Just go and play your natural game. and the way he conducted himself on and off the field. This was in 2005.” I scored a century in the match. apart from all that he achieved in cricket. the younger players were capable of taking over. and I watch videos of those innings. He always gave equal importance to every player. I think of his simplicity. which made Rahul bhai very happy. His magnificent fifties in Jamaica can never be forgotten. Venugopal Rao and even MS Dhoni to say much during team meetings. Now this is the real cricket. And his interest was genuine.” he said. as they teach me so much. I believe in you. He communicated in a language you understood and he paid attention to every player in the team. since he had got out on 95 on Test debut at Lord’s. and also how lucky I was compared to him. I found it easy to chat with him. W discipline. you understood why people looked up to him. He took all his responsibilities seriously. “You have been outstanding in ODIs and Twenty20. I was terribly disappointed. but the way he said it made all the difference. you understood how he had managed to lead the kind of life he had. and his Adelaide century. He told me how pleased he was. One of my fondest memories is of Rahul bhai leading India to victory in the Test series in West Indies in 2006. but they spurred you to do well. whether it was a team dinner or leading the squad to a social gathering. It helped me lift my head and believe in myself. it was important to perform in the five-day game because the satisfaction of scoring a hundred in a Test match was a completely different feeling. He was always available and had tips for us about life outside cricket. but Rahul bhai told me I should not let it weigh me down because I had 10-15 years of cricket ahead of me. He tirelessly supported Test cricket and never forgot to point out to us that no matter how much one-day and T20 cricket we played. Looking at him and listening to him. I always felt motivated when I chatted with him. . That was his other strength: to engage youngsters and let us realise that even if there were no senior players in the team. It was a simple thing to say. regardless of whether he played for India or not. And watching him closely.

and I was disappointed and desperate. He attached great importance to the India cap. in all formats. I remember him taking on Jimmy Anderson after the defeat at Lord’s in the 2011 one-day series. He was not attracted to the glamour attached to a cricketer ’s life. I believe such inputs come in handy and make a good cricketer. to be disciplined and remember what I am as a person. he said a few interesting things while handing me my ODI one. It was a rain-affected match. I believe his focus was a result of the simple life he led. He introduced me to a yoga teacher at the NCA to . to have John Gloster. Don’t be fooled by his simplicity. the team physio. without any support and mentoring. He stressed the importance of fitness and told me to concentrate on proper training and gym sessions. When we lost the one-day series in 2006 in the West Indies. and he came for some net sessions ahead of a Test tour. and never had any interest in stuff like cars and bikes. He could maintain a clear head for several hours in challenging conditions on all kinds of pitches. there were several doubts raised about my technique against the short ball. he was very angry and said we should have performed better. During this time I was at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. Rahul bhai never asked me to change anything. If you looked into his kit bag. Immediately after the 2007 World Cup I was dropped and then suffered a knee injury. He understood the pressure I was under and told me it was all in the mind. that a young Indian team would thrash England when they came to play one-dayers in India. Rahul bhai told Anderson. It is easy to admire him for these virtues but you also wonder how he could manage those levels of concentration. and that my back-foot play was very good. so the only thing I needed to continue doing was to stay positive. I was out of the Indian team for nearly 15 months. like when I was the Man of the Tournament in the Challenger Trophy. he said. As for insights into my game. fame and money would surround me as an international player but the key thing for me to keep in mind at all times was to never lose my focus on cricket. was to never miss optional team training sessions. because they would have more time to focus on him. I was young. He played with a lot of passion and could never swallow defeat easily. Before the 2011 tour of the West Indies.It was not only in the good times that he put an arm of support around me. He wore simple and elegant clothes. He never missed them because he could get more time to face the net bowlers. During the toughest phase of my career. without mincing any words. He said the pitches in the Caribbean were some of the toughest to bat on and that he was impressed with my technique. I have never missed any optional nets. he stood by me and helped me stay strong. Just like he did while handing me my Test cap. Taking my cue from him. get more quality feedback from the coaches and senior players. it was always clean. I travelled to England. though. Rahul bhai told me not to hurry back. which we lost from a winning position. A good way to not lose focus. It’s a good thing then that we won the home series 5-0! Rahul bhai was more than a team-mate to me. As a player Rahul bhai was always focused. He stayed in touch and texted me every time I did well. He said a lot of glamour. calm. and that I should just ignore what others said about me. I was leaving the short ball well. I am probably one of the few people who got his Test and ODI caps from the same person. He was down to earth. where India were on tour. he said. He suggested that I spend time with my family and not worry too much. take a look at my knee.

about life in the Uttar Pradesh hostel system from which I had graduated. with whom I now have a very warm relationship. The Indian dressing room will be a different place without Rahul bhai. how to calibrate a chase or set a target. . He was a responsible man. Just like Dravid the batsman who never looked like getting out. It was good to see this focused cricketer could switch off once he stepped off the field. Brett Lee leads the way. He asked me to relax. ready to captain. his pitch-reading skills – they will all definitely be missed. Raina spoke to Nagraj Gollapudi. His knowledge of the game. During the Tests in England in 2011. 3. ready to bat at No. and then move on to talk about dinner plans. with 12 dismissals in 38 matches. took me to a theatre in London. assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo Shane Warne dismissed Dravid more often than any bowler in Tests – eight times in 13 Tests. In all international cricket.learn visualisation and meditation techniques from. I was struggling with form. India batsman Suresh Raina played 61 internationals alongside Rahul Dravid. ready to keep. He was always willing to do things for the team: ready to open. and invited me to share dinners with his family. When I used to stand in the slips with him and VVS Laxman. and through his actions he inspired us to play from our hearts and give 100%. he would ask about my family. His ability to switch on and off was amazing. and asked for his opinion. his experience of handling pressure. Dravid the man will always remain a part of my life.

It is about who loses patience first. and that made us go away from our game plan. that you could settle into one line against Dravid. He could judge whether to play or leave the ball. How tough was Dravid? Dravid was so patient. He was a rock-solid player. who tries to take it to the bowler. which was full of stroke-makers like Sachin Tendulkar. someone against whom you knew you were in for a real hard task. Dravid had a simple game plan and he stuck to it. He had a set way of playing. someone who valued his wicket. Because he did not give his wicket away easily. you had to be incredibly disciplined against him in line and length to get the better of him. was never easy to lure. Some might say our bowling attack in Adelaide was not as strong as the one in Kolkata.[ 12 ] ‘I can’t recall beating him more than one ball in a row’ JASON GILLESPIE he game of cricket is the battle between bat and ball. but I was leading a very good bowling attack and we believed we could dominate the Indians. Our plan on both occasions was to be patient ourselves and stick to good bowling areas. The two best examples of how we lost the battle of wearing him down came in 2001 in Kolkata and 2003 in Adelaide. It was old-fashioned hard work. and we thought that if we stuck to our plans we could get anyone out. I remember in Adelaide. Dravid. I cannot recall beating Dravid more than one ball in a row. essentially he was more patient than us bowlers. It comes back to patience: he had the patience to grind out long innings and wait for the right ball to hit. and draw him out of his comfort zone. He knew where his off stump was – an important asset to have for a top-order batsman. That was easier said than done. especially early in his innings. But the way Dravid played. he made you bowl to him. because we could not get him out. like many other fast bowlers might have done. we were just not good enough against Dravid. he would always wait for a bowler to make a mistake. It is easy to assume. being a very disciplined player. He won the battles more often. Rahul Dravid was a master at staying patient for long. long periods of time. We became impatient. VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly. that T determines the winner. in the first . who can easily distract you with his penchant for strokes. Dravid complemented the more aggressive batsmen in the Indian batting line-up perfectly. which he put in successfully and we did not. Certainly in Adelaide there was good bounce and carry. Both were good batting pitches. However. as opposed to someone like Virender Sehwag. He had his specific shots that he wanted to play. Good bowlers are able to put pressure on a batsman. especially when he scored that double-century. unlike Sehwag. He brought stability to their batting order. Sehwag. That made him very difficult to get out. and he would wait for the bowler to pitch in the area where he was comfortable playing an attacking shot. no matter how good. That in turn worked for him because his plan was to wait for the bowler to lose patience.

That worked. and it was one time that even Dravid was circumspect and vulnerable. they wouldn’t be able to deal with the pressure. 2012 Dravid is one of four batsmen to be bowled more than 100 times in all international matches. He did not miss those opportunities to score. In 2001 when we went to India. where this article was first published on March 9. Those guys had done something special and we had to respect their performance. having forced them to follow on. but we thought if we kept at them. Gillespie spoke to Nagraj Gollapudi. It was a sort of top edge – it went for a six and he got to his first hundred. Border (110) and Steve Waugh (102). when we returned to India. The others in the top four: Tendulkar (117). He was ducking them pretty comfortably. . we were like. our fast bowlers’ plan was to bowl in the channel outside the off stump. We just could not dislodge them. assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. That was an example of when I decided to move away from my game plan and he was well settled at the crease and took me on confidently. That is sometimes the difference between a very good player and a great player: the ability to score when you get the chance to score. To simply refer to him as a defensive player is selling him short as a batsman. we started off in Mumbai by winning the Test comfortably. we knew they were very good players. He was out that way 112 times. but we couldn’t produce that one ball. he would be waiting for it and he had the ability to put it away. But we realised that Indian pitches were a lot flatter and slower and our plan would work only on bouncier tracks. with Dravid and Laxman unbeaten. In 2004. The special thing about Dravid was that when he got a bad ball. we felt we had won the game. get the Indian batsmen playing on one side of the wicket. He was a wonderfully gifted player and we all enjoyed the way he played the game. “Wow. but Dravid ranks up there with the great batsmen of the game. Dravid and Laxman together. Many might call him a defensive batsman in the mould of a Jacques Kallis or a Michael Atherton. In Kolkata. We knew we were just one ball away from getting one of their wickets. I was pretty devastated. what just happened?” We were a little stunned and very disappointed. At the end of that fourth day when we returned to the dressing room. at one point I decided to have a real go at him and bowl a few short deliveries. Former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie dismissed Dravid eight times in the 22 international matches he played against India. and then suddenly he played a hook shot. On that 2001 trip. I remember Dravid just playing in the V with a very straight bat and providing wonderful support to Laxman. we accounted for that and changed our lines to bowling a lot straighter and looking to hit the stumps every time. and create opportunities that way. having picked up early wickets during their second innings. And that is one of the reasons he averaged mid-50s consistently in Test cricket.innings. We all learn. But they counterattacked perfectly.

He spent the long evening of November 28 at the Wankhede in Mumbai. specific things to the match”.” “This” being Cricinfo Magazine’s first intrusion. I never rush things. Then a captain’s meeting with the match officials. The morning of the match I always get up a couple of hours before we have to get to the ground. so that I have plenty of time to get ready. all of six weeks (beam.” Following the selection discussion. bed for a bit.[ 13 ] His team. December 1. It included.30pm in the coffee . At 5. That evening he “had a little meeting with Greg to talk about Test cricket. do things in an unhurried way.30am for a long session under billowing skies. which began at precisely 5. departed to receive his wife and son at the airport. The next morning he was on the plane to Chennai and by early afternoon at a practice session that was the first involving Sourav Ganguly and Greg Chappell since their little email misunderstanding. he paid tribute above all to the unity within a team that had just completed an extraordinary turnaround in the one-day game. Those were different times. “Formally I will announce the XI only in the team meeting. Rahul Dravid had become India’s batting leader but not still its captain. probably could not have from the adrenaline of the past month even if he wanted – and took a 3am flight to Bangalore. among other things. “some food. called them “stars” at the presentation ceremony. Two years on. coarse batting: he willed it. I try to slow “I things down a couple of days before the game. shuffled back up to do India’s.30am he was home and delighted to find awake not only his wife but also Samit Rahul Dravid. He spent the whole of November 29 “doing nothing. this is the build-up to his first Test series as full-time captain of India. The following morning. He applauded the spectators from mid-pitch moments after victory. “There’s no need to make issues of little things. He slept not a wink – “saw no point in it”. returned only at half past ten and went to bed later than usual. support staff delivering balls in Muralitharan action from atop chairs. Anyway it’s only one or two guys who’ve missed out you need to tell – those guys I would have already told. general things. soft smile. his time RAHUL BHATTACHARYA do my best to be in a relaxed state of mind because that’s when I play at my best. I take my time to have a bath.” Shortly after. Seventy-eight not out chasing – drenched. eat breakfast. he was at the ground with the team at 9. where he showed just who was in charge by admonishing a senior journalist’s innuendo about Virender Sehwag’s niggle with a blunt. shuffled back down while the Sri Lanka captain and coach did their presser. blush). really. and at the press conference that followed.” This was to Wisden Asia Cricket in Australia in December of 2003. and that sort of sets up my mood for the rest of the day. he was in a selection meeting with Greg Chappell and Kiran More at the hotel. leading India to a serieslevelling win against South Africa. I have long lunches. he had recently become a husband but not yet a father. Now this. wear my clothes. absolutely nothing”. At its completion he shuffled up to the first floor for a trophyunveiling ceremony.

and VVS Laxman. This now is Dravid’s world. competitive – a team that is looking to improve and have some fun along the way. By Ahmedabad the poor chap was in hospital. relived their Adelaide partnership of 2003. learning. “I do have a sense of the kind of team I’d like to have. Dravid says it will take time. as scheduled. since “anyway we have to eat food and people tend to stay cooped up in their rooms and order room service and watch television.” Queried once about the three most important attributes for a batsman. don’t try to make it too heavy as if you’re trying to give advice. It is a quality that will now be tested more than ever at the crease and he knows it because he always does.” he shrugs. Throwing regular glances at the interviewer ’s wrist while speaking passionately. Asked if he’s getting a sense of the kind of captain he’d like to be.” As new captains mostly do. His team. tough.” he adds without cue. “Got to run. You realise when champions like Sachin or Anil talk about the game.” This was the team meeting where Anil Kumble talked about his preparation for a Test match. And after all that. a few sessions at the gym. It needs a bit of getting used to. Dravid has inherited a team in flux. There’s the bigger picture. Chennai finished with four fruitless sessions of cricket.” Which is? “Which is. “It is different. spending bonus time with his family. I think Greg and Ian [Frazer] have been very good in that way. “I spoke to a few captains before I took the job up – and in the course of even when I was vice-captain – whether it’s been a Mark Taylor or Steve Waugh or Gavaskar. Dravid’s first response was “balance”. try and make it as informal as possible. but by that evening Kolkata was burning again and the following day the Left and the BJP had found common cause in Parliament and it all promised to be just the start. one on boxing. mate. who are out of the one-day squad. and the captain himself. Not taking things too seriously. Then it was off to Delhi and the whole thing began again and finished in triumph. watching. Sachin Tendulkar dwelled on a few differences between Test and one-day cricket. and revisiting parts of Mike Brearley’s The Art of Captaincy (on the menu over the last few months has been a book on the NFL. engaging in more relaxed interaction with the players. One of the things you realise is the pace of the whole thing. providing his input on India’s itinerary for the tour to Pakistan. These are great opportunities – to sit around and talk. his time. the captain sprang up and shook hands in the middle of an answer at exactly a minute shy of 6pm. and a couple on management. .” On the heels of the team meeting. The same for Zaheer Khan. on one of which he browsed the boundary. passed on by Frazer).” An early night. listening. smiles. the team dinner. how much of time and thought they put into it – it’s not that they become champions by just turning up. three and a half days of weather-watching. At the time of writing it is not known whether Ganguly will be on the plane to Pakistan or not. another meeting. high-fiving the few hundred poor souls who had landed there hoping against hope. preparing – long enough. obviously. acquainting himself with the new selectors. This meant trips to inspect the ground. giving several interviews. the basic thing they told me is that you grow into the as at the end of the day it is sport and we must have a lot of fun playing it and must play it hard. “But. no doubt about that. because “one of the things we’re trying to do is make team meetings more interactive than watching endless replays of the opposing batsmen. VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble. else there would scarcely be need to appoint them. Rahul has been waiting – waiting.

“Well. I want to say that at this level I shouldn’t need to motivate anyone. his form had remained nondescript. The new coach was not exactly looked upon as Santa Claus. lonesome hobos. Some terribly cold decisions have been taken. But most of the time you’ve got to give to the team and make sacrifices to the team and give back to the team. That can be a big dampener in teams.” What. till September it had been a fairly rotten year for India’s results too. You don’t want people whose own insecurities. “If you’re going to be spending time in the team always having to cajole and look after a few people. And it’s not hard work with people like that. It is possible that some may have caused Dravid unease. And it has hardly been as simple as that. those who “can look back and say that I’m a better player now than I was four years ago. Without question it has been the most controversial year for Indian cricket since Mr MK was pouring his heart out to the CBI at the top of the decade. If I’m needing to motivate an international cricketer then there’s something wrong actually. Those are the broad rules we work under. going to be part of any side? What is his attitude towards them? “I believe that you need different kinds of characters in the team.” But are not bad boys. He is after selfstarters. You’ve got to understand that your behaviour. I’ve no problems working with people who want to be champions. It has been the first and most crucial phase of team-building and it has been difficult. I can do this better. One of the great things about Harbhajan is that he really cares about his bowling. and there had been suggestions. when you’re not doing well and your form’s not good and you’ll need the support of other people. some. Players need to understand that they need to give energy to the unit. For a period it appeared that the BCCI’s master plan to revive a flagging team was to appoint alternating captains while the board had some fun in court. Something needed to be done. I think he figured out for himself that he needed to focus a bit more on the game and not worry about anything else. you’re doing a disservice to the rest because you’re wasting and investing too much time and energy in a few people who’re taking away from the group. was a shake-up. whose own problems and whose own fears drag everyone else down. In case it has been forgotten. but perma-dander-up Harbhajan Singh? In this instance Harbhajan came with particular baggage: he had openly sided with Ganguly in the Chappell row. affects other people and you have a responsibility to all of them. and that stagnation has hurt as much as defeat. passionate. He’s a very proud cricketer. for example. There are times. opinions on which are bound to remain divided.” He does not like naming names but over and over in conversation he will return to the phrase “finding the right people”. L Balaji is crocked and somewhat forgotten. But there are certain nonnegotiable rules because you’re playing a team sport. All through. Harbhajan’s a champion performer. Or. Chappell’s and Dravid’s approach. of which they were able to convince the selectors. of course. the way you conduct yourself. sadly. But within those non-negotiable rules I think it’s important to allow people to express themselves. that he had been deliberately trying to undermine Dravid. “The right people and – I hate to say it – not have the wrong people around them. but it is clear that he stands steadfast by a philosophy of team ethic. It’s credit to him. did he say to the mightily gifted. from within the team. as simple as that. sluggish talents. The challenge is to not demotivate anyone. get back to what he was doing when he was successful. it’s not about what I’ve told .Ashish Nehra is Ashish Nehra and on the mend.

” Rather. for instance. watching him work. I’ve really enjoyed it. “I don’t know where that has come from. bowling fast. I think it’s a good way. but is happy to delve into other instances that provide insight into a variety of aspects of his decisionmaking. who “sleeps with clenched hands. About Mark you felt that he always treated this as a game. the emphasis on team over individual. He’s been more than willing to listen to my ideas and my thoughts. During the outstanding defence of 106 in Mumbai against the Australians in 2004. He was virtually impossible to play. and I get a very good say. of the initial friction between Chappell and a section of the team he says that “like anything. are queries about perceptions of Chappell’s domineering style. mentions slipping players memos. and he bowled with a round-arm flat action. has taught him that at some level there is nothing that is too important. straight balls that were spinning. he’s done a really good job. A big believer in the mental side of things. Steve Waugh. Is Rahul Dravid a speech-maker? A one-on-one man? He laughs. Kartik responded with two wickets from his first six deliveries. He prefers not to discuss the Multan declaration with Tendulkar on 194. At the end of the day I think he believes that a captain must get what he wants.” Maybe it is this outlook. One from the micro level. that allows him to bring to his captaincy a Taylor kind of adventure – ploy upon ploy. When I was batting it crossed my mind that Murali Kartik would definitely be a great . in a lot of ways we do a lot of things in my way. he famously threw the ball to Murali Kartik ahead of Anil Kumble in the fifth over of the fourth innings. the inclination to take the gamble so long as there is some cricketing logic involved. experience. and Dravid’s obvious intelligence. nothing more and nothing less. In truth. you sometimes worry that he is consumed by an intensity that can burn. though? The man to whose tome he has written a foreword. trick upon trick. When asked. torn by “the trances of torment” of Melville’s Captain Ahab. I’ve not found him domineering at all.him. At the end of the day. In fact. “What happened there was that when I was batting in the second innings and Michael Clarke came on to bowl. he immediately started getting a lot of spin. encouraging poems and other such cute stuff.” he says. some new ideas.” What is the basic approach. Equanimity. never passive.” What way is that? “I think he believes in giving different people different experiences so that they can learn and grow from those experiences. and wakes with his own bloody nails in his palms”. and two. Rather it is because “he had a lot of balance. why Mark Taylor is among his favourite captains. In a lot of ways he’s trying to bring in some new thoughts. He’s trying to coach teams in a slightly different way.” Laughed off.” Listening to Dravid. so that your mind has a variety of options to choose from. and now a wholesome family life. “I believe you’ve got to keep the game moving. one. the immediate response does not address Taylor ’s tactical sparkle. too.” Enough has been seen so far to say that his major calls have been characterised by. We have our opinions and sometimes we agree and sometimes we might disagree. I think the guys have responded very well. not least time spent banished from the one-day team. “Basically. I felt. sometimes it takes a bit of time for people to understand what the other person is trying to do and achieve. “Better ask the guys. whether it is from different kinds of drills in practice or in match play. There was no time to react to that.

because he can push the ball through faster. preferring at every turn the attacking option and often the left-field one. had been unable to make it to practice the previous day. I had to bat at No. batted at No. he adds: “It depends on the quality you have. It’s obviously opened up my game. From personal experience I’ve seen that batting at different positions has made me think about my cricket differently. there’s a lot of physical pressure and a lot of mental and emotional pressure. 3 and play the new ball quite often. Zaheer ’s wicket. he explains. I didn’t want to expose the middle order. again versus Australia in Mumbai.” In one-day cricket he has been an aggressive tactician. 3 slot he had .” In the second innings.option on the wicket to right-handers. he was prepared to risk looking foolish by keeping catchers on and the field up. He was on antibiotics for a viral flu. batted at No. These are things we need to be aware of. Irfan Pathan was sent in and the delightfully well-rounded stripling responded with a decisive 93. prompted as much by long-term strategy as plan for the day. Dravid did not displace the strokeful VVS Laxman from the No. And he had failed in each of his seven previous innings as Test opener.” Long-term-view. the team had just found form. More can be gained by taking that time off than another long net practice. I thought I would be the best equipped to handle it. As far back as October 2003. “It was a tactical decision. their thinking is different. 5. and I could get Kartik on. Dravid rejects the suggestion that it was about making a statement or setting an example. But the good thing there was that Zaheer Khan took the wicket of Justin Langer in the first over – that was a very critical thing. Dravid promoted himself to open.” For example. More conservative minds would have chosen not to tinker. It did not quite come off – but it did provide a glimpse into his thinking. In fact. I don’t think the same XI is going to be able to play the whole season for you. particularly in defence of medium totals. The demands have been different. even if for only one game. It exposed [the right-handers] Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn when it mattered.” Perhaps Dravid’s strongest batting-order call came not in one-dayers but in the Delhi Test against Sri Lanka. “By challenging them. and since I do bat at No. “How do you sometimes get the best out of people?” he asks. I’m hoping it will help a lot of others as well. at that stage. 4. when we’re playing a lot of one-day cricket I think there might even be a case for someone who doesn’t play to go back home and spend two days with his family. with quick runs the need of the hour. In Sri Lanka last July he showed that. kept wickets. No. he opened the bowling with a spinner while standing in as captain. But. and the voice escaped his body as if through a jute towel stuffed in the gullet. 6. were the decisions to rest Tendulkar and himself in consecutive games against Sri Lanka. people forget that. With Virender Sehwag missing the game. 3 for a part of my career in the one-day game. just managed to curb the increasing cynicism of the watching public. They are different bowlers. Losing Veeru opened up the situation. In another time the wicketkeeper or the newest member might have been sent up. grant captaincy to another.” Most revealing of his readiness to take risks have been the (largely successful) batting orders. too. I knew there would be a bit in the wicket in the morning. which may seem to have been generated by an iPod shuffle but were. “Put only two guys out. their level of consistency is different. It’s all very well to say. “It’s just that when you’re on the road and playing a lot of cricket. I can easily bring the field in for Harbhajan Singh but not so easily for Virender Sehwag. People need just a little bit of a break to recharge their batteries. More insecure souls would not have dared. Though the series was in the bag.

It was there he met John Wright.” He leaves it at that. we struggled a bit. maybe complacency to a certain extent. the sagging end? In what ways has the approach changed? Flexibility. with his co-debutant at the helm and in which Dravid himself was performer-in-chief. “total cricket”. Inevitably a time will come when the team will lose and it is only then that Dravid will truly be tested and only by his response to that can he truly be assessed. whom he subsequently recommended to the board. part of it by what we’re thinking and where we want to go…” He weighs his words. Creative but not absurd. which he regards as a key phase in his own selfunderstanding. Six years ago. Dravid and Chappell have taken or precipitated decisions of the type not usually associated with Indian cricket. part of it by need. “You know. He even looks happy in skins. unnerving. “Like I said. We’re trying. You have to constantly reinforce it. for that is how they will ultimately be gauged by the public. ambitious but grounded. even if neither may say it. but he seems to have it basically sussed. We’ve got to try and get that back. The challenge before the combine. He was contributing editor at Cricinfo Magazine when this article was first published there in January 2006. He created the right environment and evolved a sense of team in a lot of things that we did. they’ve also turned up the heat on themselves. progressive in every way. diplomatic but articulate. things like team spirit. For him it has been the same journey and it goes on. Just because you have it today doesn’t mean you have it tomorrow. thinking about the game a lot more… It’s early days… it’s going to take time. it’s going to take time… We want a good team… We’re looking to challenge people… We’re looking to take it forward. Between them. “I think there’s a lot of focus now on trying to get better at skill. A lot of us raised the bar during the period. What’s coming? “John did a fantastic job for us for the time that he came in. There’s not much more to ask. he spent a summer at Kent.occupied in the first innings. You must never forget that.” His voice rises a touch and the earnestness is striking. John worked really hard and made sure we worked really hard. due to a lot of factors. he has the makings of a complete captain for the age. Part of it has been necessitated by circumstances. and from there began a grandly exhilarating. Rahul Bhattacharya is the author of the cricket tour book Pundits from Pakistan. Having done so. teams go through ebbs and flows. ruthless but fair. But to talk of this as the Dravid era suggests a kind of discontinuity from the past. in a bid to overcome the staleness that had crept into his game. they have to be constantly worked on. I don’t want to start saying that it’s something huge. Over a period of time. grandly fluctuating period for Indian cricket. In many ways it is Dravid who is the central bond between the eras. demanding but not dictatorial. things like performances. . In short. How does he look back on the last five years. He and Sourav had a good combination and they did some very good things for four years. injuries to some extent. the thrilling rise. there’s been a lot going on. is to better the successes of the Ganguly-Wright era.

The great innings .

its simple elegance. a considered appreciation. Rohit Brijnath. its clean. immediately appealing. Twin treatises in courage. its stylish symmetry. its divorce from awkwardness. it is like some paintings.His batting is not. He plays to his own wondrous sheet music. page 107 . it requires a second look. classical lines. Soon its beauty is revealed. for some.

deliberate-to-the-last-detail. it never came easy. preferring to struggle out in the public eye than trying to hit his way out of form. had been bowled. The knockout punch was about to be delivered when India instinctively threw up VVS Laxman in defence. he averaged 27. It was a desperate move from a desperate side. on the line of leg. and was the last man out. he found himself in a corner. second Test. not for the last time in his career. It was said he was thus building pressure on other batsmen. they were being manhandled by a professional. For Dravid. Laxman. shy of moving well forward. A day ago he had been bowled by a Warne legbreak that pitched about four feet outside his crease. In the last two of those. even the hard-nosed Australians were won over. If this was a bout.1 overs. though. and he was not reaching the pitch of the ball. On that day. and was bowled. coming to bat as he did at No. If Laxman was writing poetry at the other end. For one full session he hobbled through for his runs. He was denied a runner and at one point even drinks. the epitome of sweat and toil. He struggled to score singles. On March 13. What followed was so blissful and magical. the coach. Australia and South Africa. Take out Zimbabwe and he had not scored a fifty in over a year. and yet he couldn’t reach it. and one rich in cricketing logic from what was going to become a successful side.[ 14 ] Hercules on second fiddle SIDHARTH MONGA VVS Laxman’s epochal 281. 3 in the next innings. 2001. Dravid was just rediscovering the alphabet at his. If Laxman caressed India out of trouble. but he’d be damned if he played one loose shot in Kolkata’s humidity of over 90%. Dravid. thus having failed to reach 300 against Australia in ten straight innings. stopped Australia’s juggernaut in its tracks in Kolkata in 2001. India were bowled out in 58. 2001 ntil the afternoon of March 13. Rahul Dravid was a batsman too obsessed with technique to U score runs. this classic least of all. . for 59 off 83 balls. and to go in at No. India had just come out of the match-fixing scandal and were under a new captain and coach. John Wright asked him to not take off his pads. never mind that he had to play the pick-up truck to Laxman’s Rolls Royce. counterattacked. The feet were not leaving the crease at all. 180 v Australia. 3. among the greatest Test match performances of all time. bullying Australian side. Against the three best attacks of that time. made in the teeth of extreme physical discomfort. dismissing him a day earlier for the seventh time in seven and a half Tests. Kolkata. Dravid swapped places with a batsman who often took out with him a wand instead of a bat. took tablets and saline drinks for cramps. putting behind poor umpiring and falling over each other to congratulate the miracle-makers. Dravid chose the only way he knew: fighting through it. When Laxman came back. despite an average of 52. finding fielders with well-timed shots. Shane Warne seemed to have a hold over Dravid. Pakistan. It threw into the shade an innings that in any other game would have been the main event: Rahul Dravid’s 180. richly talented.23 in 42 Tests. 29 and 36 respectively.

he hit too hard. either side of stumps on day three. bringing the odd one back in. and India had taken off all but 42 runs of the 274-run deficit. When Jason Gillespie – how well he bowled without any reward that day – got one to snarl at Dravid. the bat going up and down three times as the bowler ran in. Wright wrote random notes on his laptop. Now McGrath started his famous mumble. Dravid would have taken any runs then. When the umpire erroneously ruled a leg-bye as a single off the 15 Kasprowicz delivery Dravid faced. the sweat beginning to drip already. but that came with its fair share of trouble too… from Ricky Ponting. but not placement. he was still looking for some sustained rhythm but not giving up.” Wright wrote in John Wright’s Indian Summers. at times from in front of off. By lunch he was 50 off 127. At 26 off 92. having hit 20 fours in his 113. The innings. The first hour had been negotiated. We simply weren’t taking the initiative. remained the profitable shot. the crowd began to dance. eight overs before stumps on March 13. At the end of that over. Soon Dravid followed a short-of-length delivery. and this time Dravid convincingly punched him through mid-off for four. 3 batsman should be a strokeplayer. Then he began moving forward to counter the variable bounce. Dravid swallowed it all and came out to fight the biggest fight of his career. all the way back to the top of his mark. front foot slightly open. The switch was working. Laxman inside-edged Gillespie for four in much the same manner as Dravid. McGrath went round the stumps. the 90 .Wright’s reasoning was damning for Dravid. someone who took the attack to the opposition. and they didn’t want him to get easy runs. and he felt it was a mental thing with Dravid. Then Dravid got a length ball on the pads. “Watching Laxman make 59 while batting with the tail. and this was only the first hour. The clip into the leg side. Leading up to lunch the scoring rate increased. He was only 11 off 69. coming close to edging it. He was equal to it. the inside edge for four was ruled leg-byes. his partnership with Tendulkar in Mumbai had been slow. I remembered Ian Chappell arguing that your No. He couldn’t find the sweet part of the bat. drinks arrived. as if to a kid. th In the first over after drinks. “Which part of your bat did it hit?” Australia must have felt it was only a matter of time before Dravid succumbed. First signs he was in. but he hadn’t hit his straps. th In the next over Laxman mis-hit a pull off Glenn McGrath. Off the first 52 balls he faced. In the next over. Back foot in front of leg. who had been having a horror series with the bat. that he needed to forget technique and score runs. he scored just nine runs. off-driving. At the other end. With the ball. which he clipped wide of the fielder deep on the leg side. Sourav Ganguly sat with a towel draped over his bare chest. though. In the next over Dravid went at a wide delivery. The next ball stayed low. Dravid gritted his teeth and went back to struggling. Umpire SK Bansal would soon join the drive. too: Laxman was nearing a century by the time Dravid came out to bat. and it seemed he would now be away. Warne looped the balls high. punching McGrath slightly awkwardly through the vacant mid-off region. weaker men have tried to show the coach and captain they too can hit boundaries. Smaller men have sulked and lost interest at such times.” Ian Chappell was one of the commentators for the match. any runs. Two of those . Laxman toyed with similar deliveries. “Dravid was our regular first-drop. the bowler came up to him and asked. Michael Kasprowicz bowled 14 straight dots at him. steering and cover-driving him for three more fours in that over. when he cut McGrath. perhaps for the first time. he swung away at gentle pace. Dravid found timing. Laxman now took the most dangerous bowler on. and put away the bad ball. was devoid of any flow or pattern: soon he would be beaten by one that held its line outside off. In the next over he sparred at a kicker from Kasprowicz.

and it spun towards the stumps. the physio. A pull. Dravid. Laxman. two fewer than his previous best against Australia. and Leipus gave him exercises. What had been happening during the session breaks now had to happen out in the open. He stopped. and the other hit him marginally outside. and the fields attacking. In the last seven overs. The emblem on Dravid’s helmet had begun to come unstuck. Ponting got one to rear at Dravid’s gloves.” Laxman nonchalantly drove the first ball after lunch for four. Dravid had reached 84. Minutes later Dravid put the box back in. He bowled cutters. even if India had begun to build a lead. Another on-drive. which means. Australia’s over rate stayed good. It bounced about six inches from the stumps: he still couldn’t risk kicking it away. By drinks in the afternoon. How long before cramps set in? Gillespie kept troubling him with the variable bounce. How beautiful his action. He dived. They were not going to get out today. in Wright’s words. and Dravid on 76. but kept getting beaten once in a while. and as soon as he reached the crease he pulled out the box and went down. And again he was to be pulled back. Were they thinking of a draw now. He looked to kick it away. and Eden cheered. He was short. Dravid knew he need not bother about tempo . “See you after the next session. who had fed off Laxman’s momentum and learned from Laxman’s momentum. Now the firm was going global. Dived to make the crease. Now the tilt was back. He hobbled through for a legbye. Dirty looks exchanged. Laxman was four short of a double then. Mark Waugh finally provided respite. and Laxman’s back began acting up. The lead was 150 now. Dravid had faced 31 deliveries. Dravid kept moving forward to try to keep the low-bouncing balls out. decided against it. kept the ball in. At lunch they were 102 ahead. Just when it began to look easy. His shirt was now wet enough to start clinging onto him. Michael Slater – who had been all over Dravid in the last Test. he even reversed it for a while. was now giving back to him. He resumed. They had played together often for South Zone in age-group cricket and in the Duleep Trophy. He put everything into it. came out. that final snap of the shoulder. He chose to let it bounce a second time. One was a touch-and-go not-out with regard to the impact vis-à-vis off stump. A bread-and-butter couple off the pads followed. but the ball was too close to the stumps – he could have been hit-wicket. He was finally dictating. Dravid ran all four. and you realised Dravid had begun to shepherd him. Gillespie bowled a massive offcutter that hit him flush on the box. When he got up. Andrew Leipus. India added 122 in the session. not for the last time. Not even run out. it looked like it had come off a few more inches during the effort. Forty minutes later Wright said to Laxman and Dravid. who conceded an overthrow. he doubled over his bat. It is the body’s way to protect a damaged back. Eden Gardens heaved as one. abusing him because Dravid had dared question the legality of a catch – gave chase. how harsh his luck. he held the ball across the seam. Laxman called for a quick single. Dravid repeated the dose to near-nemesis Ponting in the next over. because he had been “listing”. In that hour Laxman faced only 39 balls out of 90. Wheels coming off. The dream of 17 straight wins was fast evaporating. to protect the lead? In the next over Dravid defended one. Now Dravid pulled Ponting to midwicket. He almost hadn’t played this Test. Only one slip remained. The off stump stood. he let it be. India effectively 132 for 4.inswingers could have – on another day – had Dravid lbw. “his shoulders and hips weren’t in line”. threw it back to Ponting. and his extra pace. Dravid took a wide half-volley and drove it wide of mid-on. He looked to chest it away.

Called in forward short leg. Laxman’s beauty not only survived amid the crassness. This. the ICC under his chairmanship and the Cricket Association of Bengal his fiefdom. Mostly clips.000 for each run after that. the contest still alive. For a second. soon after the drinks break. Nothing worked. Shastri. He used the words “sticks it up”. India needed to bat through till stumps at least. Before the start of the next over. driving a wide half-volley from Mark Waugh for four. The two hugged and went back to work. he leapt into the air. Dravid not only kept it out. Dravid was now using his feet well to Warne. Six steps down the pitch. The other was when he was asked in Pakistan if a match that India had fought hard to win was fixed. Dravid let Laxman stay a pace ahead. This Australian team. Dravid’s progress further wasn’t smooth. Dravid borrowed Laxman’s audacity. was on air. Dravid was nearly run out on 97 when Matthew Hayden dived at cover but couldn’t hit the stumps. Anger. th At tea. he worked it through midwicket to reach 89 off 186. Seven minutes before tea. was more personal. Fifty-eight of the runs came there. Not too high. the previous best had been by Ravi Shastri before Warne made him his first Test victim. During an over break. then the highest Test score by an Indian. Soon the big board at the ground would announce 1. that showman Warne made Dravid wait. He spliced a hook off Kasprowicz. his best against Australia. Dravid waited. Then Gilchrist moved a man in the deep. Warne. and the odd pull. it blossomed. He raised his bat to the dressing room. with six wickets still in hand. just the man for the occasion. That’s the joint-angriest Dravid has ever been in the public eye. and 2. the realigned Laxman resumed domination of the strike. came with an aura. Tony Greig. Then you saw it on his face. a commentator then. Laxman knew Dravid wouldn’t throw it away as long as he was conscious. not quite driving inside-out from the rough outside leg but kicking him away well. to the media box. The bowling and conditions had been conquered by now. a defendable target.000 for each of Laxman’s runs until his 236 .as long as Laxman was there. As Dravid neared his century. He was not the only superstitious one. He made sure it was announced during the live coverage on TV. for the first double by an Indian at the Eden Gardens. We were entering dangerous territory: Dravid had been dismissed in the 90s four times before this. Jagmohan Dalmiya. now stepped down and drove him wide of mid-on. though. Deeper. Ganguly still had his upper body wrapped in a towel. though. Australia let the Indians lead the teams off the field. Adam Gilchrist and Justin Langer swapped their shades. and then under-edged another off Mark Waugh. This over-my-dead-body hundred was perhaps the last affirmation he needed to know he belonged. He took his time setting the field. India led by well over 200. and then pointed it to a higher level. Dravid’s hundred included 13 fours. Three times the bat went up and down in the stance. It would have been hard enough for a fit . Dravid. but high enough to suggest how much this meant. The constant criticism must have got to him. nine of them in front of square on the leg side. flicks. Then moved a fielder in the deep a few feet. drives. announced an award of 2 lakh for Laxman. Nothing was considered beyond them. Towards the end of another spell where Gillespie kept doing things with the ball at 145kph. A tired Dravid had given up. Then called for a silly point. couldn’t wait for stumps to shake Laxman’s hand. Laxman soon got his double. who had been accused of not moving to the pitch of the ball. one stayed dangerously low. Laxman went past 206 off Warne’s bowling – the highest score by an Indian against Australia. the game still anybody’s. And how he belonged. Leipus waited inside to realign him.

That was 2. think of that game? Surely it was not going to happen again? Not after India had been asked to follow on. who earlier dared not move from their seats. playing for Kolkata Knight Riders. They didn’t have laptops and analysts. Warne bowled bouncers. Laxman screamed from the other end: “Played. Hayden bowling nagging swing at around 125-130kph. were now mimicking how Bansal raised his finger. Jam. It was not difficult to draw boxing parallels. Chappell compared it to the deep end of a heavyweight bout between sluggers who were too tired to even throw punches. which don’t qualify you to get a runner. match-winning doublecentury. charging onto the field. Try telling this to today’s players. and McGrath using the unevenness of the bounce. though. A sign India were out of the woods? Venkatesh Prasad and Venkatapathy Raju. Australia tried to put a brave face on. He was . a historically minded captain. Dravid played out two successive maidens from McGrath.” Didn’t matter if it was a four or a block or leave. throwing the ball around. as the powerless umpires watch. He even tried running in with his arms spread like an eagle. They knew they were to see Wright only after the end of the session. He on-drove Hayden for four to take India past 500. He was not angry now. made 1. they didn’t even have neckerchiefs.64. The bell rang again. presumably – and cheekily asking him if Dravid could get a runner. “See you after the session. soon Willey would banish energy drinks too.and fresh man to stay focused. Dravid turned Mark Waugh around the corner to reach 150. India were only just entering the modern professional era. It was cramps. to relive some of the strain on the calves. Not just yet. Ishant Sharma. Two years before. Did Steve Waugh. Hemang Badani and Sarandeep Singh tied them on the batsmen’s necks. waving to the camera. they got new makeshift neckerchiefs. Gilchrist and Steve Waugh – and McGrath resumed proceedings after tea. then. who enjoy unscheduled breaks at the slightest excuse. He also undid and redid the pads. Six overs later. Some resourceful person in the back room sliced towels into thin strips and put them in ice. Back then. Laxman joked with Peter Willey.000 worth. Dravid’s earlier show of emotion was an aberration. in a bid to distract the batsmen. looking sprightly. Cramp? A muscle pull? McGrath tested him further. Dravid had now stopped bothering about the singles. At some point before the final drinks break of the day. and Dravid was about to begin cramping up. The pill hit the helmet grille and fell. Too tired to manoeuvre the ball or steal a quick run. Leipus made another trip soon. Hayden – Australia had already tried everybody except Langer. they had seen Brian Lara score a crazy. Gillespie came back for another brutally unlucky spell. Only twice had a team won from such a predicament. It might have seemed he was too exhausted to show anger. Ganguly had put on a shirt. leading West Indies 1-0. Jam.” “Hang in. the two of them hobbled through for a single. Not all the money in the world could buy the joy and satisfaction of exhaustion that Laxman and Dravid would have felt then. In the next over. Dravid would nod. With a tablet and a saline drink. Leipus placed it inside his mouth. but on the evidence of the rest of his career. During the drinks break. A tenth of what they get from an advertisement contract nowadays? A decade later. Dravid could hardly lift his arms. and Steve Waugh – who had been trying all day to sneak in a run-out – fumbled.” Wright said. Jimmy Adams was the Dravid to Lara’s Laxman then.5 lakh per ball bowled. Dravid clipped Hayden off the pads and limped through for one. and then cover-drove McGrath through a tight field. their one last effort to reclaim a winning position. Laxman soon reached 250. on March 14. No one was taking a dive. and Dravid – having swapped his full-sleeved shirt for a fresh half-sleeved one – went out and waited for Laxman to arrive. Let alone a runner.

and Gundappa Viswanath and Yashpal Sharma – to bat through a day’s play. “would define our careers from now on. He wasn’t an angry man anymore. Laxman added only six before cutting McGrath straight to deepish gully. The two now lay next to each other. From being minus-274 on March 13. Dravid and Laxman became the third Indian pair – after Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy. who didn’t like being played out of a game. He raised his bat to all parts of the ground before walking off. They had just about enough energy to shake hands before walking straight into the makeshift hospital that was the dressing room. a man with low averages against the best attacks of the day. They were about to break through the doors of the Final Frontier. Dravid 148. He was to cherish the moment. Dravid had covered more than 22 yards in running up and coming back. India were now 315 ahead. Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo The bowlers who got Dravid out most often in ODIs were both fairly unlikely names: Sanath Jayasuriya and Abdul Razzaq. that. though. Once again. India kept batting without any increase in the tempo. Doctors were ready with drips. Not all the way back to the pavilion. Then this happened. Australia even tried Langer now. That’s 540 legal deliveries. He scored 25 off the 34 balls he got on the fifth morning. despite a lead of over 300. He now knew he belonged. Laxman had added 166 runs. One man went on a lunch table. in Dravid’s words. in the knowledge they had shared something special. On the fifth day. which would be the only perfect end to this turnaround. Every over purposelessly batted away diminished their chances of winning. irrespective of what we achieved or didn’t achieve after that”. though. who dismissed him six times each. and he was caught short. Turned out Wright and Ganguly had conferred and decided they wanted to frustrate Australia. A period of uncertainty followed. the day Dravid was still a man too obsessed with technique to score runs. he was sent back. He went back shaking his head. They had had bad decisions against them when they batted. Without further incident. nine modes of dismissals possible with each. the other on the physio’s. He simply wouldn’t get the strike. It was the perfect chance for Dravid to get to a double-hundred. and none came to pass. Laxman and Dravid led the way off the field. Australia’s dream had been interrupted. and as he tried to steal a single when Zaheer Khan pushed one to cover. So beautiful was this that Australia lined up to congratulate the two batsmen. .moving smoothly now.

Ajay Ratra. The English summer had been mixed going in to Headingley. the chase of 325 was one of the top five in ODI history at the time. it was at Headingley a year later that the team showed real steel. in the north of England. was not fit to take the field and 17-year-old Parthiv Patel made his debut. He plainly told me. and we achieved it after losing nearly all our specialist batsmen. the first-choice wicketkeeper. On TV. It was the first time I was batting with Rahul in a Test. I asked John where my career stood. . At Trent Bridge. That fightback gave us fresh belief for the rest of the tour. and its pitch is slow. Rahul Dravid was the chief forger. like a fast legbreak on a turning pitch. M like an innocuous ball going down leg side. Headingley. but that match had finished inside three days. Leeds. flat and low. at least to me. In the last. I don’t think we could have drawn it if not for Parthiv’s daring efforts with the tail in the final 20 overs.” Karnail Singh is the home ground of my domestic team. That move by Rahul. It had looked.” So I knew this was my make-or-break Test. Sourav won the toss and elected to bat since we had two spinners in the side. this is not Karnail Singh. Rahul Dravid walked up to me and said with a smile. I wrote a poem and read it out during our first meeting. led by a century from Rahul. “I do not know. who came out in the seventh over after Veeru (Sehwag) edged Hoggard to slip.[ 15 ] The monk of Headingley SANJAY BANGAR While Kolkata 2001 was the first glimpse of a new. Railways. I had failed. Leeds. absorbing all the heat to create one of India’s most memorable wins abroad. The year 2002 was an interesting one for me and Indian cricket. “Boss. At the start of the West Indies tour he said every player would be asked to talk about the team. It was a wonderful achievement for Indian cricket. Sunil Gavaskar called it a brave decision. The much talked-about Headingley pitch was foreign to me. so I knew about its slope and what kind of adjustments a bowler would need to make. I felt. in the West Indies a few months ago. was playing only his second match there. I had done well in three. though I had read about it in Darren Gough’s autobiography. The day before the Leeds Test. brought the team together and made newcomers like me feel more confident. third Test. aggressive India. was cold. and I reacted accordingly. fought valiantly on the final day to save the Test. He had played there for Kent against Yorkshire in 2000. But suddenly it slithered past my hanging bat. Even Rahul. but India. John (Wright) told me I was to play. 2002 atthew Hoggard delivered a fuller-length delivery on my leg stump. Nasser Hussain smiled happily for he had a good four-pronged fastbowling attack that could take advantage of the overcast conditions. Already that year he had impressed me by taking the initiative to get the team together. England dominated the first four days. We had won the NatWest ODI series final after coming back from the dead. fast and unreliable. We lost the first Test at Lord’s. 148 v England. Of my five Tests till then.

he was hit hard on his fingers. Rahul knew exactly what he had to do to survive on this wicket and he adapted accordingly. The next ball hit him on the forearm. The key was. Rahul understood that the bowler would beat him many times and that he needed to accept that.He also asked me out to dinner in the Caribbean. hands. trying to use the pace of the ball to create runs. When a bowler does that. and he was happy to join me with two other team-mates. As a batsman you are always looking to score mental victories over your opponent. But very few Indians have succeeded in seaming and swinging conditions. seam. he wanted to assert himself early in an innings. The first session was the most important: England’s bowlers were hostile. elbows and body. he was happy to keep shouldering arms. But Alex Tudor had natural inswing. before lunch. and awkward and variable bounce. after the second Test. The striking thing. annoyed and exhausted them for the better part of five sessions. If he made 20 or 25. The fans kept shouting “Geddon with it. I returned the favour.” they said. There were three things Rahul had to counter in the innings: swing. at least in the first session. whereas I was hanging back in my crease. you didn’t really falter against them. Not that it meant Headingley was quiet. They have also got runs on fast and bouncy Australian wickets. Many other batsmen might have struggled in a similar situation. I have seen many Rahul Dravid innings.” The close-in fielders chirped constantly. though. That was probably why he took more blows on his fingers. Once. Rahul copped a few from Tudor. I was a slow runner but Rahul never showed his disappointment. but would play with soft hands. so once you got your eye in. no matter how good a batsman you are. Neither of us spoke a lot on the field. and the only instruction Rahul gave me was to look out for sharp singles and always be ready to run. He bowled a hostile spell and troubled us the most. but he didn’t flinch. He does not have an ego and can easily concentrate on the next ball after he has been beaten by one. We were going at just about two runs an over till lunch. I call him a monk in that respect. as many times as possible. as against when he was settled. as close to the pitch of the ball as possible. Early in the innings I noticed a big difference in our techniques: Rahul was looking to get forward. Hoggard and Andy Caddick mostly moved the ball away. He kept bowling into our bodies. He weathered them successfully for more than seven hours. he frustrated. “Mate. telling us we were going nowhere with our two-per-over run rate. By the time we batted at Headingley we were comfortable with each other. It is a given that Indian batsmen will score runs on spin-friendly pitches. he could get into his comfort zone and start leaving balls outside off stump alone. and that added to the variable bounce made him the most dangerous bowler to face. The message he conveyed to Tudor was: I’m digging in and I’m not going to give my wicket away easily. looking for one wicket. At Headingley. to me. It was old-fashioned Test cricket. you’re not getting enough runs… a couple of wickets and you’ll be the same again. They were confident they could tear a part the rest of our batting order once they broke through. you start to think about getting hit. was that he played more balls outside off stump initially. revealing his strength of character and his quality as a batsman. It seemed like after a poor tour of Australia in 1999-2000. Rahul not only stopped them from doing that. It was as if John had asked him to do a set of exercises repeatedly. . just one. In England. yet he didn’t ask me to change my approach.

and scored 68 at Headingley. It was the first time in six years that all three scored centuries in the same Test. Sanjay Bangar. who played 12 Tests for India. In a way that match changed the general opinion about Indian cricketers. The tide was turning. Rahul had crushed England’s will. spoke to ESPNcricinfo assistant editor Nagraj Gollapudi . After that our seamers and spinners combined to deny England any room in which to fight back.The effect of his patience was so strong that though England’s fast bowlers bowled some good spells. And Rahul had a lot to do with that. We took a lot of risks at Headingley. they were eventually frustrated. By the time Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav started dominating. We had not beaten big teams outside India. allowing the other two to easily post big scores. we later read that Duncan Fletcher. In fact. He was the one who went out in the vanguard and neutralised the dangers of the pitch. then England’s coach. One of the mistakes they made was to keep pitching it mostly back of a length instead of full. It was one of India’s largest victories overseas. was so disappointed with his bowlers’ lines that he started drawing charts to explain to them where exactly to pitch the ball. It was the turning point of our overseas record.

They were the most compelling advertisement of the truth that he is one of finest batsmen of his generation. 233 and 72 v Australia. who led India to their first win in Australia in over 20 years. said. cold beer in limp hand. But inside the dressing room. then in his room he visualises – the portrait of an artist in boxer shorts. but about the personal battles. the sacrifice. He remembered his days as a young player. were essays in concentration. Down the phone from Hobart.” Those innings in Adelaide. dissecting their pain. and I enjoy that. In Adelaide. It wasn’t unusual for him. to share so many emotions with so many different people. with bat in hand. Maybe Rahul Dravid just wanted to slowly inhale the last remaining scent of victory. His team had owned this stadium briefly. The team bus had gone home and the Adelaide Oval echoed with silence. an education in him as player and man. studies in craftsmanship. as he craned to look. tired smile on drawn face. and then barefoot. as in Adelaide. on which the names of travellers who had taken five wickets or scored a century were inscribed. Last month.” his captain. the second Test belonged to Rahul Dravid. the story of the dramatic 1996 Formula One season. their rage. . with two innings of efficient purity and defiance. not wholly but partially. He will see the bowler in his mind. amidst the detritus of empty Gatorade bottles and sandwich wrappers. the hero contemplating his finest moment. “I do that quite often. After a rain-affected draw in Brisbane. Above him. David Halberstam’s The Amateurs studies in detail the quest of American rowers for Olympic selection. this lingering. second Test. this man prefers method to chance. 2003 usk descended gently and soon a scoreboard that told an improbable tale would be obscured. Sourav Ganguly. the 233 and the 72 not out. curled up on the wooden bunk as the train rattled its way to another match. It’s what sport is about for people who play it. Racers. But there is one book he identifies with powerfully. commences in the morning. perhaps because the tale has something of him in it. it is part of why he plays. reading To Kill a Mockingbird. few predicted they would get away with more than honourable defeats. take one last look at this foreign place where he and his team had imprinted its greatness. “I like the warmth of the dressing room. treatises in courage.” His process. It’s not about the accolades or the money. Adelaide. “Rahul batted like god. but his eyes told you he could already read it. Dravid explains: “It shows you true passion and true drive. It’s about the process. he was still there. it’s fantastic to stay and soak in it. he wrote an article on books. As his batting suggests. envision his action. His name had not been written yet.” he says. take stance and meet the imaginary ball. The silent warrior awakes. They are also. the 233 beside it. and he was not ready to leave just yet. the obsession of their journey. After you’ve done five days of battle it feels like home.[ 16 ] Twin treatises in courage ROHIT BRIJNATH When India went to Australia late in 2003. rested on his table. high on the wall hung a whiteboard. D Seagulls loitered as sprinklers hiccupped. in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine.

“As much as I get confidence from playing shots. The pressure is stifling and his fine form of earlier days initially deserts him. partner. so many just watched and left as if unworthy of his bat’s attention. he is merely fastidious about what to play when. you’re always in a contest. but .” he explains. he is too intelligent to be at ease with this hero business. its clean. exaggerated. “more joy” is found while completing the task. in the second. my only qualification is that I come on television more than a nurse or a soldier or a teacher. applause. refocus. for he says. his brain will register heat. the pleasure of what he has accomplished is not that powerful. private war. you bring it back. Sourav Ganguly.” His batting is evidence of a careful work ethic. immediately appealing. searching for harmony between mind and feet. He plays to his own wondrous sheet music. thinks so much. Mother gets a doctorate in art in her mid-50s. I don’t think sportsmen can really be considered heroes. when change bowlers like [Simon] Katich come on. “The Australians always come hard at you. an artist. is more valuable. and son takes photographs at the ceremony. He says: “I don’t really feel like a hero. and this makes it easier to concentrate. 170. In the first innings.In the first innings. his captain.” At the crease in Adelaide. I also sometimes gain confidence from leaving balls. a considered appreciation. I had to fight through periods. That’s the real beauty. its divorce from awkwardness. That this is Jason Gillespie running in. but it is the specific bowler of the moment that he is attuned to. this willfulness written into some invisible chromosome. he is there in total for 594 minutes. when you win the battle against yourself. classical lines. you steel yourself.” His second innings. awakens the warrior in him. its stylish symmetry. My goal was to not get out. ‘What if I fail?’ “You can’t concentrate for ten hours. when he plays it appears he is delivering a sermon on batsmanship. its simple elegance. when she sets her mind to something she does it”. In fact. because it gives me an idea of where my off stump is. he is not distracted by his nation spellbound. constantly scrutinising his art. it requires a second look.” He is both calm and desperate. Anyway. for him. because he works so hard. he finds it discomforting. He does not care for statistics. He says his mother. you push yourself. reminding myself of what I wanted to achieve. to make it as difficult as I could. He is occasionally bewildered that after he is done. Yet his carefully calibrated approach has a powerful reason. he plays 446 balls. it is like some paintings. dismembering his innings and emotions into pieces for study. Predictably. “I didn’t feel in much control. of a player who shares a comfortable companionship with discipline. Monks are less circumspect than him. scoreboard.” But this is also genetics. and I was just fed up. He is an inward-looking player. more arduous.” His batting is not. This is the essence of Dravid. “is a very determined woman. of these innings. hair askew. “You can’t be thinking. for some. “I’ve been playing for seven years and we’ve lost a lot of games. mother would approve. your mind wanders. discovering a way to stay in concentration’s embrace. and indeed. will say on television: “He’s the best role model you can have. you have to focus harder. driven by emotion yet aware it is dangerous. You switch on and off. After the Test. an analyser. Soon its beauty is revealed. waging his silent. India chasing 230. He is the owner of more shots than some believe. and during many periods on Tuesday I kept telling myself I didn’t want to go through that again.

because that is not him. of all the moments in Adelaide. in Adelaide. “The challenge. when considered unfit for the one-day team. he told me. Rohit Brijnath covered the 2003 Adelaide Test for the Melbourne Age. had outpaced his usually more fluent friend. but I have other things. It came around tea on the third day. there is a charm and roundedness to him that is appealing. some swotting student with no time to look at and smell life.” he says. huh?” No. the one he enjoys more than most points to a man who delights at cricket’s charming surprises. “is making the best of the gifts you have got. Indeed. I have learnt this from Tendulkar. cover drives of such precise sophistication. it is worth any wait. not a bad effort for a blocker. Then. even told to sandpaper his offspin because it might help selection – a time of great humiliation for him – his response was classic. So would I. engaging man is an owner of different virtues. You don’t need to see the grin on his face. As he says: “I don’t have some of the gifts of a Tendulkar or a Lara.71. In nine Tests there he made 962 runs at an average of 68. I’d like very much to be respected as someone who is courageous and fights and does his best. VVS Laxman on 55. because he is laughing down the phone when he talks of this: “Yeah. just as precious.” But this unpretentious. That’s natural. with four hundreds. Polished. Years ago. or he could have gone to the nets and found a way to get better. not bad at all. he noticed with amusement that he. Dravid scored more Test runs and centuries at Eden Gardens than at any other ground. in fact. if you meet him for dinner. who has worked extremely hard to make best use of his gifts.” But he knows gifts themselves mean little. in themselves they are inadequate. But let us not believe he is all seriousness. those with flair and flourish. He chose well. “People like to come and watch great shots. and players playing attractively. jeez. even when belittled. Mostly. I enjoy an innings [like the 233 and 72]. impossibly. It scarcely bothers him. fussy batsmen like him are often eclipsed by the quicker scorers. . for whom he worked at the time and where this article was first published. yet late in the day when he looked at the scoreboard. He had begun the day at 43. He is now a senior correspondent with the Straits Times in Singapore. Dravid has stayed faithful to these gifts. for it brings out different facets of my character that are dear to me – commitment and discipline and courage.when he delivers. he could have either moped and moaned and believed the world was against him.” All his life.

The good’uns still make it count. Dravid . “vees houn dya” (Twenty. Some magic. appeal from Shoaib. wicked. Rawalpindi. and more for securing India’s first-ever Test series victory in Pakistan. which brought Sachin Tendulkar to the crease. Presuming an opening stand longer than one ball. 130 for 3. But now. back of a length.[ 17 ] Notes from an ugly epic RAHUL BHATTACHARYA Rahul Dravid’s Rawalpindi marathon was a landmark for being the longest Test innings in Indian history. because he had to bat all day tomorrow. In the snap of a finger the game had opened up. He wanted to sleep well. others whisked themselves away to the giant screen in the coffee shop. off stump. struck again by Sami on the pads. 270 v Pakistan. Lele had just interviewed Dravid. of course. surely. With him was the Marathi journalist and editor Sunandan Lele. Above all he marvelled at Lara’s appetite. “Vees. all for a macho smirk at watching a little guy leap about. made a wristy edge off Shoaib. now was the time. just let me get past 20). He had asked him about his dry run in this Test series. Parthiv Patel was briefly troubled by Shoaib’s bouncers. Tendulkar walks. Illadvisedly Shoaib bowled only bouncers. Not given. no response from umpire. the new man. climbing. This was not an easy morning for India. steaming hot. VVS. which allowed him the option of a defensive stroke or an attacking one to every ball till the very last moment. Shoaib was produced at the other end. It was the ultimate background innings. third Test. still attiring himself as he reached. Nervous moments followed for India. some madness. nor was it expected to be. This is an edited excerpt from Pundits from Pakistan: on tour with India 2003-04.” Dravid had held up two fingers and replied. and maestros. He was just not feeling it. And at dinner on day one of the Test. shoulder height. Dravid fell clean out of his groove. for the grass still had not fully browned and there was movement about. evasion from Tendulkar. Soon he edged Shoaib Akhtar out of the reach of third slip. First ball. this was the moment. uncharacteristic in its lack of fluency but typical for its awesome commitment. he excused himself early from the table. jubilation from the keeper. after a good night’s rest. some left early. On 21. and accordingly A some guests arrived late to Waqar Younis’ retirement dinner in Rawalpindi. Pakistan needed to break the door down. pushing Fazl-e-Akbar away from his body. he told his companions. the Maestro was a touch late to the crease the previous evening. he was a goner. 2004 world away Brian Lara was approaching a quadruple-century in a Test innings. Rahul Dravid watched the moment on the TV in the gymnasium area. He was in excellent humour throughout. Mohammad Sami had a close lbw shout against him on the fourth ball of the morning. Parthiv fell soon after lunch. Dravid marvelled at Lara’s technique. some inimitable Pakistani inspiration.

many slips.” Dravid continued to buffet rough seas. Pakistan were not stuck between a rock and a hard place. for VVS was not about to hit to them. hooking Fazl unconvincingly and straight-driving him utterly convincingly. it flew. Misery was piled on misery: Dravid edged a cut wide of slip in Kaneria’s next over. There was nothing to do but blush. he allowed himself a flailing up-and-under cut. And asked by the press at the end of the day if he was eyeing Lara’s 400. He now had a century in and against every country barring Bangladesh. but he could gain neither Umar Gul’s . sank into submission. endearingly: “Sometimes you get so engrossed in watching batsmen like Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar that you lose focus on your job. an irredeemable error. Tea was taken. On only one of these 17 occasions had India lost. wide of second slip. and crimson flames blowing out of Shoaib’s nose. My own impression from the freeze frames was that it had gone from bat to boot to the keeper. cutting away. leaving VVS blinking at a blur. From the other end Shoaib bowled another bumper. To his five boundaries in the 90 minutes before tea.” Sami burned his soul through a 13-over spell in the morning. on a day he had spent peppering his own toe. On the first delivery to the Indian captain. Pakistan’s fieldsmen may as well have retired to their tents. can it please be bottled up and stored for all time? With a turn to leg off Kaneria he reached his 17 Test hundred. every bowler. to bring up an effortless fifty. This was a wretched innings. Pakistan’s attack. He flick-pulled him to square leg. with the total on 177. a forward short leg. a not fully discernible flurry of bat. Out of nowhere. the type he rarely indulges himself with. Planes flew over Pindi. th Inzamam claimed the new ball as soon it became available. more like between an advancing wall and a dancing swordsman. and accordingly were creamed for boundaries. Dravid picked his own pace. he broke into a grin: “Four hundred? For me to score 400 the Test match would have to go into a sixth day. Yasir Hameed plonked it at point. Shoaib screeched an outswinging full toss past a half-flick and into the middle stump halfway up. down. taking two more off-side boundaries. and the physio was summoned. from Kaneria. lacklustre. but on 71. Fazl and Sami strayed on to the pads of the Indian gents. and after it VVS opened his wings and soared away. On 77. On three occasions he took a pair of boundaries off Fazl. Sourav Ganguly was greeted by a leg gully. there was a prolonged inquiry into a caught-behind off Danish Kaneria. cutting till the final ball of the day. Shoaib tumbled and fell in his followthrough and left the field. Shoaib drew an edge from Dravid. Yasir said later. It was. even on the slowest replay. and Ganguly prospered. and two slips were all there were. which jarred Dravid’s finger. Fazl over the keeper. But look at the score. earth and ball. Dravid began treating Sami’s bowling with increasing disrespect. the sun fell away. boot. Dravid too approached his inevitable best in this last hour. a lollipop. an anomaly he would rectify before the year was out. as they say. It was impossible to remember a Dravid innings as coarse as this. which should be out. It was. he added seven more in just 30 minutes after. Whatever is the chemistry that these two share. he punched him into the covers and touched him straight down.

once they had flattened Pakistan out as a rolling pin does dough. With the total on 593. as per plan. Five of the six highest scores in their history had come in the last three years. just as he had reached 100. and now his bat did not have any. it was history in its seventh repetition as farce. ticking Kaneria to leg. Twelve hours and 20 minutes says plenty. In Perth a few months ago he had visited a specialist. who ran a series of tests and prescribed him a fluid mix that would aid his rehydration process. the quintet of Sehwag. Four of them had arrived in the last five months. And reverse swing continued to be elusive. and out of Ganguly’s three. during the mother of all epics. He had spent most of the previous day smoothing rough edges. repelling madly when they needed to move towards one another with alacrity. Dravid. Dravid pulled Kaneria and was dropped by Imran Nazir at midwicket. all had been in duet with his deputy. In this instance. committed to “bat once. deputy’s role was to watch as captain comically ducked a throw and failed to ground his bat. Only after tea. India’s was not an over-performance. jolting madly towards one another when they needed to stay far away. he pulled out the reverse sweep from outside leg stump to Imran Farhat’s part-time spin. I’d like to believe it was a spontaneous acknowledgement from one modern master to another. did the Indians begin taking risks. They were magnets configured to always face each other the wrong way. Two runs more with Yuvraj and he would have become the second man in the history of the game to have shared four century stands in an innings. 45 minutes into the morning. with sweeps and magnificent inside-out drives. testament both to the adventure he had added to his game and his refusal to play for a milestone ahead of the team cause. he raced on. “in the top 10% when it comes to physical training”. each outside India. as compared to 134 from 314 before. and his own score on 270. Dravid had spent all but one ball of virtually three full days on the field. When Yuvraj fell lbw to Sami. the pair had added 98 runs for the fifth wicket. and another 131 with Ganguly. When Ganguly was run out.deviation off the wicket nor Shoaib’s bounce. Dravid always takes measures. bat big”. of which 136 had come from 181 balls on this day. Since Sehwag joined the ranks. one of which soared for a six. It was a natural progression. but Dravid had the runs. Dravid had put on 129 runs with Parthiv. for 77.85. Tendulkar. Hanif Mohammad. An hour after lunch he reached 200. there was Dravid to contend with. Laxman and Ganguly had between them piled on 31 centuries and 44 fifties in 30 Tests. Cynics suggested this was only because of the criticism he’d faced for having not done so when Sehwag reached 300 at Multan earlier. He was bowled. Inzamam came over for a handshake. according to John Wright. And he was. batsmen came and went and hit beautiful strokes. Dravid consolidated diligently with Yuvraj. the 16-hour rearguard against West Indies in Barbados in 1957-58. but not everything: apart from the intervals. Pakistani bowlers tried and tired. Thus it was at quarter to four on the day recognised by the Islamic calendar as the 24 in the month of Safar that Indian cricket’s longest batting journey came to end. Of Dravid’s seven run-outs in Tests. 131 with Laxman. in late 2001. Their combined average in this time was 55. Besides. th Of all Dravid’s tours de force this was the most physical. which meant that in a squad of 16 he was number one or two. The only person to have done so was the PCB’s Special Guest for this Test. Twenty of these were away Tests – and not a dud among . Life carried on. four had been in collaboration with his captain. This was especially challenging because he is prone to losing fluids much quicker than the next sportsman.

In 1997-98 he scored fifties in six successive Test innings. He was there with Ganguly five months later in Kandy. If Ganguly’s and Wright’s appointments as captain and coach were significant steps in this regard. batting in a trance to victory. Dravid averaged 70. into contenders in any part of the world. England. or two. three of which were nineties and another three eighties. saving still another Test. batting. Indeed. etching out more than a hundred low-key runs over two innings in a famous victory. He constructed 11 centuries. He was there in Port Elizabeth three months later. taking blow after blow to the body on a bowler ’s pitch under glowering skies. but what they had achieved was to turn India.them: tours to Australia. After a point all achievement is appetite. for always having a man. the longest successful one there has been by a visiting team in that country. making a long fourth-innings chase against Murali and cohorts. He was there in Georgetown four months down the line. Dravid’s ascension to batting leader was equally so. home or away. saving a Test a day after Mike Denness had infamously hauled the lot over the coals. and his had been as significant an extended run as there had been by any batsman anywhere since the second war. five of them doubles. and later wrote a book about it: Pundits from Pakistan . He had been India’s batsman of the 2000s as they had unfolded so far. and he did not manage a single fifty in those 14 innings. in Adelaide. averting a follow-on while popping painkillers to soothe a jaw that had swollen to one side as though with a gulab jamun. entrenched at Trent Bridge for the final four sessions. for seizing moments. Dravid himself was in a slump in the period leading up to it. four months on. West Indies and Pakistan and nowhere else. a time when Indian cricket had hit something close to rock bottom. He was there at Headingley in the next Test. Five years later. Not one series passed without bearing the mark of the Maestro. How much can you keep biting off? How much can you keep chewing? Rahul Bhattacharya is a writer based in Delhi. more than any Indian had ever done in an entire career. He was there. he scored hundreds in four successive Test innings. Finally. He was there one Test later in Port-of-Spain. it is not possible to dissociate the events. In the 41 Tests and 41 months between then and now. In the space of seven Tests his average had plummeted from 55 to a “mere” 47. sculpting one of the great defensive innings in one of the great Indian wins. For prolificacy. scripting among the most dramatic turnarounds the game has known. Watching Dravid is an inspiration because at a most visible level Dravid’s lessons are the lessons of life. unforgettably. South Africa. let alone in three and a half years. and rare was the Test win. each bigger than the previous. for every occasion. New Zealand. despite their limited bowling attack. Ganguly’s first Test as captain was against Bangladesh in November 2000 (Wright assumed his position one match later). that remained untouched by his work. He was there in Kolkata with VVS. batting. He was there. eight points clear of Tendulkar in the same phase. He strung together 16 fifties. the quintet could not match the buccaneering band of contemporary Australians. He covered India’s 2003-04 tour of Pakistan for Wisden Asia Cricket magazine.

Gary Kirsten and Lance Klusener.Three of the four wickets Dravid took bowling in ODIs were of South Africans – Shaun Pollock. . The only other batsman he dismissed in ODIs was Saeed Anwar.

They were constructed on a spiteful pitch that saw 22 single-digit scores in a game that finished in three days. a straight drive off Dwayne Bravo.[ 18 ] The Kingston grind SIDDHARTHA VAIDYANATHAN Rahul Dravid’s twin fifties at Sabina Park led India to their first series win in the Caribbean in 35 years. Dravid’s hometown. The series was up for grabs. Rahul Dravid walked in at No. He was told about a biscuit-making company in Bangalore. Kingston. Dravid’s technical mastery was unmatched. fourth Test. India resumed after lunch at 29 for 2. 4. But that was the acme: India lost the series 1-4 and the pressure on Dravid intensified with every game. 81 and 68 v West Indies. apparently a move towards stability. Dravid was lucky to survive a menacing short . None fazed Dravid. th India were expected to dominate the Tests. where it was close to dinner time. he would lose a Test to England. This decision. They came within one wicket of winning in Antigua. Jerome Taylor. Taylor exploded: ratcheting the pace above 140kph. first four. Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif were floored by snorters: 78 for 5. Within five days of the landmark decision. Now in Kingston their chances hung by a thread. peering through his lens. he forced hesitant prods. the BCCI had named Dravid Test and one-day captain until the 2007 World Cup. and by a confident West Indies batting line-up in St Kitts. Dravid had won a home series against Sri Lanka and lost a series in Pakistan. Pedro Collins applied pressure with maidens. Both openers were out. asked about the Britannia sticker on Dravid’s bat. provoked criticism. Around 2000 filled the stadium. A local photographer. Dravid’s extended tenure in the ODI format was understandable – the side was in the middle of a record-breaking run – but his Test results were questionable. A Jamaica flag fluttered above the pavilion. the local boy. Two and a half months earlier. rows of empty charcoal-coloured bucket seats alternated with heaps of rubble. The Caribbean tour had begun on a high note: a Dravid hundred won the first ODI in Kingston – India’s 17 successful chase on the trot. some West Indians tooted horns. 2006 I t was the first morning of the final Test. Helmeted workers sat atop scaffolds. Sabina Park was a giant construction site – the stadium was being readied for the 2007 World Cup. in an unprecedented decision. Corey Collymore. India were 3 for 2. finishing a home series 1-1 and provoking further censure of his longterm appointment. It took 19 overs for Dravid’s. Some Indians in the George Headley Stand waved flags. was running red hot. VVS Laxman fell in the first over. probed outside off. His defence was watertight and he adapted his technique to the occasion. where he had batted all series in Sachin Tendulkar ’s absence. and India’s. were defied by rain in St Lucia. the most economical bowler all series. The rest was attrition.

one from Taylor. Another series was on the line. grazing the fingertips of gully. He had seen signs of a revival. the two teams had played out four draws. though – especially when Steve Harmison rolled West Indies over for 47 in 2004 – but wished for more consistency. then angled one onto Dravid’s pads. Batting got easier midway through the day. From 72 for 3 they shrivelled to 103 all out. His drives . Had the pitch flattened out? Joseph Charles Morris. From then on. Bat met ball with sweet tocks. He responded by pulling Taylor for two successive fours. when West Indies unleashed a pace battery so intimidating that Bishan Bedi declared the first innings with six wickets down. Brian Lara. India bowled with discipline – Harbhajan Singh took five wickets in 4. Shivnarine Chanderpaul tried legspin. the ball flying off his bat’s edge. Kumble played on to a short ball from Bravo: 184 for 7. was the head groundsman at Sabina Park. after three drawn Tests. He juddered pull shots in front of square. The pitch was unpredictable. Dravid was back in Kingston. It was history or bust. Anil Kumble. In his next over Taylor again fired one onto Dravid’s legs. the West Indies captain. India led by 97. according to Charlie. Lara said West Indies needed to aim to bat for two days.3 overs – 14 balls fewer than Dravid did in his innings. They lasted a little over a session. on his first tour to the Caribbean. Dravid punished width and was quick on the drive. Five overs later Collymore lured Dravid into feathering one outside off. when India failed to chase 120 on a Barbados snakepit. Denesh Ramdin fumbled the catch. His trademark pitches had a glossy veneer on the surface. Only once had a team drawn a Test after making 200 or less in the first innings in Kingston. India folded for 200. The pitch was re-laid in the early ‘90s and. Taylor thought he almost had a wicket. In 2002 they had squandered another series after batting collapses in Barbados and Jamaica – a harrowing defeat: the series would have finished 1-1 if India’s lower order had held on for half an hour before torrential rain lashed the island for 11 days. adept at angling his bat. Nine years before. The team faced 33. lost most of its bounce. There was drama in the air. A regal swivel that raced to the cover fence took him past 9000 Test runs. He made the fiery one for the Test against India in 1976. It clipped the pads and produced a woody sound. Dravid reeked assurance. Dravid lifted him over mid-on. then another. No team had won. Dravid paddle-swept for four. Charlie guaranteed the surface would help bounce. Taylor banged a short one in. a long stride turning full-length deliveries into half-volleys. said it would help spinners. There was a wide leg slip in place. Dravid took strike with the ground bathed in sunshine. The series was decided on a manic morning in the third Test. By the fourth over they had both walked back: 6 for 2. He began working there in 1959. where the ball would “stop on the batsmen initially”. His wrists rolled. fondly called Charlie. The wicketkeeper pouched the edge. Dravid later compared his 81 to the 76 he made on a windy first morning in Wellington in 2002. On the eve of the Test. Dravid had been there before. proved an able ally. The delicate edge flew between the wicketkeeper and leg slip. both in front of square. Chris Gayle tried offspin. Their openers walked in with rain in the air. Dravid called it a “slow wicket”. the batting more so. Now. his body flowing in a smooth arc in the follow-through.3 overs – but some of the shot selection was baffling.

were extensions of his defence: you saw the high elbow; the bat pointed at fourth slip in the stance,
and finished ramrod straight.
Dravid stood still before the bowler delivered, then he mostly went back and moved across to
defend. Sometimes – and here lay his genius – he simply got back and chose not to move across,
creating width for a cut shot. Here was a batsman at the peak of his prowess. All afternoon he was
beaten once.
Collymore cleaned up Laxman and Yuvraj. Collins got Kaif to play on. Seventy-six for 5. India led
by 173. MS Dhoni added 46 with Dravid, before missing an incutter that kept a shade low. With his
feet rooted to the crease, Dhoni stood no chance.
Two overs later Taylor sent a replica delivery down to Dravid. It caught a thick inside edge and
dribbled. Dravid shook his head, determined. The next ball kept low again, except this time it held its
line. Dravid moved forward, his bat came down straight. Taylor stood transfixed. It was his last over
of the day. The best bowler in the match knew he was defeated. There was no way past Britannia.
India ended the day 225 ahead. Dravid batted out another 36 deliveries the next morning before he
was bowled off a shooter. He walked back to heartfelt applause. Back in the dressing room, he cursed
himself for not getting the bat down in time.
West Indies were set 269. They went down swinging. A festive Sunday was lit up by cameos from
Ramnaresh Sarwan, Bravo and Ramdin. Kumble had the final say, his sixth wicket wrapping up the
game in the penultimate over. India had won a series in the Caribbean for the first time in 35 years.
Dravid was chaired around the ground. Groundsman Charlie shed copious tears.
This was India’s first significant away series win in two years. Dravid went on to lead India to a
series win in England. Despite memorable results in Tests (including India’s first Test win in South
Africa) his captaincy was defined by India being knocked out in the first round of the 2007 World
For Dravid the batsman, Kingston 2006 was a high point. His next significant innings was a year
and a half later, on another challenging surface, in Perth, leading to another historic Test win.
Dravid returned to Jamaica in 2011. Faced with another unpredictable pitch, he responded with a
match-winning, and eventually series-winning, century. For those who missed his batting in 2006, he
obliged with an encore, showing that history does occasionally repeat itself.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is a journalist based in New York. He covered India’s 2006 tour of West Indies for ESPNcricinfo

Dravid was never dismissed for a first-ball duck in Tests. He was, though, run out for 0 without facing a ball once: in
the Lahore Test of 2004.

[ 19 ]

A part of his best self

India’s 2011 tour of England provided more occasion than others in recent years to drag out the
familiar clichés about lone bulwarks and defiant solos: Rahul Dravid scored 461 runs in the Tests,
nearly 200 more than any of his team-mates, at twice the average. The finest of his three hundreds
came at Trent Bridge.
117 v England, second Test, Nottingham, 2011

T he grey skies at the start of the Nottingham Test had defined the first day as what English cricket

folk call a “bowling day”. As the clouds parted on the Saturday and sunlight flowed over Trent
Bridge, naturally it was the advent of that other phenomenon: the “batting day”. For this Test match,
though, those descriptions were irrelevant. In terms of batsmanship, the first two days have both been,
quite simply, Dravid days.
The wicket at Trent Bridge is known for its propensity to aid swing. The theories behind that
phenomenon include the Duke’s ball, the new stands built at the ground, the airflow around them, the
neighbouring river Trent, the sky, the clouds, the weather, everything and nothing. Wherever the
swing came from, Rahul Dravid’s response to it, and his second Test century of the tour, came from
skill, memory and cussedness.
In the toughest conditions of the series so far, Dravid has come through as the toughest batsman on
either side. In passages of play when the bowling has been unrelenting and during spells when the ball
has darted, jagged, leapt and thrown flying kisses at the bat’s edge, Dravid has been instinct and
calculation in perfect sync.
With this 34 century, he has now drawn level with Sunil Gavaskar and Brian Lara, to go with his
No. 2 spot on the list of all-time Test run scorers. If there ever was a poll conducted to identify the
most hardy and considerate international batsmen of this age, Dravid has a very good chance of
topping it. In this series already he has done most of what he is known for: opened, batted at No. 3,
kept wicket, fielded at slip – and, he will say with his droll humour, also dropped a few. Asked, after
his century, about his ability to bowl, he laughed and said, “If I bowl, my shoulder will come out of
my back.”

On this tour of England, it is a shoulder his team has leaned heavily upon. Of all the India batsmen,
he has adjusted the quickest in England, looked the most composed, and scored the most heavily. India
still find themselves gasping because he has had very little company.
He was out in an outrageously flashy manner here, a wild, short-game cut off Tim Bresnan, as out
of place in his innings as pink hot pants would be at an awards presentation. Given that his partners
had been unpredictable in the last ten minutes, and four wickets had fallen for six runs, it was hard to
blame him for going for broke.
It is worth remembering that his first-innings century at Lord’s had been rendered paltry because of

a poor effort from the rest. So maybe if Dravid is seen attempting reverse hits or Dilscoops at The
Oval, we’ll know how the Indian batting has gone for the rest of the series. After Harbhajan Singh
was out, Dravid said he wanted to go for the runs, the extra 20-25 runs that could add up at the end.
Essentially he wanted to borrow from Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann’s ninth-wicket approach on
Dravid’s second century of the tour had begun with a bruising hour of play on Friday evening. He
was hit on his wrist, jammed in the fingers, worked over. He kept batting through two more sessions,
sometimes hobbling, sometimes cramping but always pushing forward. He was hit on the wrist again
this morning, and after the initial spasm, his hand lost sensation for a few overs. What Dravid never
lost was the purpose of what he had to do: bat one ball at a time.
In his epic innings – and he’s one of the few who has produced regular epics as against memorable
stanzas – Dravid can often bat like a clock that ticks reliably. Tap. Single. Back again. Forward.
Defend. Dot ball. Beaten. Dot ball. Forget. Off stump. Leave. Dot ball. Late. Nudge. Two. Soft hands.
Kill. Dot ball. Width. Cut. Four. Ball after ball, over after over.
He called Nottingham one of his better hundreds because of the “hard-working, fighting” aspects of
it that he enjoyed. He said the conditions in Headingley back in 2002, when India batted first on a
green track to put up a total that set up victory, were tougher, but the bowling in 2011 was far more
demanding and precise.
He emerged with VVS Laxman on a bright morning and within three overs they cracked four
consecutive boundaries. Two each, off rare lapses from James Anderson and Broad, that erased the
dread that had built up last evening among the small gathering of vociferous Indian fans at the
The partnership hummed along like it always has, at varying paces. The two men farmed the attack
cleverly, Dravid facing Broad and Laxman against Anderson, with few singles, several twos, and the
quick boundary at a juicy sighter.
Laxman melted the conditions – driving, pulling and cutting savagely to score his second halfcentury of the series. At the other end, Dravid was in his own bubble of concentration, found often at
the non-striker ’s end shadow-practising the leave as much as he did the forward defence.
Broad later said Dravid’s wicket had been his favourite in a day when they fell in a clatter and had
included his stunning hat-trick. Dravid’s game is based on technical classicism and attached to it is the
awareness of how valuable a wicket his can be. Unlike items in the English retail market right now,
Dravid’s wicket in this series is not going to be offered at a discount.
In Nottingham there was measured driving, his runs earned by tucking balls away off the pads,
countering the swing by playing the ball late and easing it through to third man. Closer to his century,
the new ball nearing, Dravid saw the slower bowlers and the sun come on, and decided to show off
the rest of his repertoire of shots: a back-foot cover drive, a glide through slips. Swann, in particular,
was taken apart, going for 42 in 37 balls to Dravid.
If Dravid’s batting in this series were to be set to music, it could be to Elgar possibly: both pomp
and circumstance. This is his last tour of England, a country where he has always enjoyed playing his
cricket. He has scored five centuries here (average 73.18) and soaked in its best traditions. His grim,
beautiful fights in these two Tests for India have also carried with them gratitude for the grounds he is
playing on.

Dismissed in an uncharacteristic manner. he walked back through stretching shadows and the golden light of a dipping sun. This piece was first published on the site on July 30. 2011 Of the 11 triple-century stands by Indians in Tests. Having shaken off his annoyance at his dismissal. with an honours board that will have his name up a second time. ESPNcricinfo senior editor Sharda Ugra covered India’s 2011 tour of England. inch by inch. Dravid has been involved in four. run by run. which is the highest. Tendulkar and Laxman have been involved in three each. Then he disappeared up the steps into a pavilion that is 125 years old. he raised his bat to all sections of Trent Bridge as he neared the gate. he was also giving the crowd his farewell masterpiece. he will leave a part of his best self here. When Rahul Dravid leaves Nottingham.In Nottingham as he tried to push his team ahead in the contest. .

I started to really enjoy slip catching because it was very competitive.[ 20 ] ‘There are no easy catches in the slips’ INTERVIEW BY NAGRAJ GOLLAPUDI December 2010 How deeply were you interested in slip fielding to begin with? I have never considered myself a natural slip fielder. you should enjoy it. What do you think are the essentials of a good slip fielder? Firstly. We had these competitive games with each other as Vishy sent catches our way. What about the position – where and how you stand? Is there an ideal one? Bobby Simpson spent some time with us [the former Australia captain was a consultant to the Indian team during the 1999 World Cup]. It was a natural progression. in terms of positioning. Then I started focusing on my batting and moved on. What it does is. you need to have relaxed hands. Once I became a bit senior – if I could call it that – I moved to the slips. some further away. He [Simpson] came in and altered the way I stood in the slips. . Then you’ve got to take a lot of catches. and I have taken my fair share of them. Mark Taylor and Mark Waugh were the best slippers I ever saw – they were incredible. the last thing you want to do is tighten up or freeze or snatch at the ball. There is no substitute to taking a lot of a catches as a youngster if you want to do slip catching – you’ve got to catch. you have to vary your catching – you’ve got to take some catches with the tennis ball. And more than doing the normal stuff. Growing up. we would try to outdo each other. catch. I was at silly point and short leg for about four years in the beginning. catch. With a lot of younger kids coming into the team. and that carried on till I was 17. but I worked hard on it. in my Under-15 days I used to be a wicketkeeper. He was coach of a team that had what I consider probably the best slip-fielding cordons ever. GR Viswanath was the chairman of selectors in Karnataka back then and we did a lot of slip catching early in the morning. I got into the Ranji team quite early. I practised it. I started enjoying it by working on the reflexes and catching. and generally. When an edge is coming towards you. that you can’t be taught by coaches. I identified first slip as a good one for myself. Mark Waugh believed that slip catching comes naturally. How did you figure out which was the best spot for you in the slip cordon? When John Wright came in [as coach] he was very keen that we get specialist fielding positions and stick to one position. as a youngster the first place you are put in is at bat-pad and short leg. It is a position where you’ve got to concentrate the whole day. so you had to work on your close-in fielding straightaway. where you are always in the game. You should want to be there. you can transfer weight and quickly move in any direction. Once I was in the Indian team. He got me to take the weight on my instep rather than standing flat-footed. One of the important things I have found with slip catching is. That made a big difference to me. you’ve got to take some closer.

if it is a spinner. So it is just a judgement thing. Yes. with the other one wrapped around as a support? The fact that I never thought about it means I am not sure if I do all that. How different a challenge is it. I know some who spread their feet a little more. it could get boring and repetitive. since there is not much carry. you must enjoy being a slip fielder. but suddenly in the 110 or 112 over of th th . which spell they are bowling. What sort of pressure are you under as a slip fielder? As I said earlier. Do you watch the bat. A lot of foreign players have pointed that out to me. the edges do not travel to you straight. But in India. but you must enjoy the fact that you want to be able to make a play. What is the most challenging thing about standing in the slips in Test cricket? Concentration. you are putting yourself in the firing line if you stuff it up. some a little less. it doesn’t come at the same pace. In the end. like Anil [Kumble] or Harbhajan [Singh]. It is all about fun. What about hand position? Is it always better to have your preferred hand taking the ball. Then again. then another day with a softer ball – you can even catch with a golf ball. It just makes it more interesting. you are reading their hands. it could be more fun. Everyone in the slips drops catches at times. Like. But as long as you have practised well and put in enough time.Each one of us has a unique body position. in India it was never easy for me to judge where to stand: how far forward. I just catch the ball. There is no perfect place to stand. based on the wicket. And it is very difficult to know exactly how far forward you need to go. One of the great joys of being a slip fielder who takes a catch is that you are able to contribute to the bowler ’s success. so you have to work out what is comfortable for you. If you continue taking catches in the regular fashion. even for a fast bowler that holds true. but if you can just vary it with different balls. Because on Indian wickets the ball does not carry as much as abroad. As for reading the hand. and you can stand way back. of a different object. There are no easy catches in the slips. quite even. standing to a spinner compared to a fast bowler? Not a massive difference. the condition of the ball… So you’ve just got to keep varying. you’ve just got to catch. As soon as the bowler runs in and as soon as he hits the delivery stride. so you get sort of tempted and dragged forward all the time. Can you tell us a little more about that? It gives your hand a different feeling. who is bowling. In Australia and South Africa the bounce is quite consistent. I do have big hands and that does help in slip catching. it just comes naturally. and they catch as well as anyone that I know. the batsman or the bowler’s hand? I just focus on the ball. but you must want to be in that position to make a difference. I don’t think you have time to think which hand should come on top. and recognise that sometimes you might make mistakes. At times you will get nothing the whole day. how far back. you are watching their hands – what they are bowling. I wouldn’t say only for spinners. the bounce. then another day with a slightly hard plasticine ball. With the spinners you don’t have that time to react because of the short distance. That is true of slip fielding in general. You mentioned practising with different kinds of ball. with different angles. You are putting yourself in a position where you are seen. With the fast bowlers the ball comes at you a lot quicker but you are further away. How do you decide where to stand? From a spinner ’s perspective. catching one day with a tennis ball. I switch on and start focusing on the ball in a relaxed fashion. you are fine.

You’ve got to be ready and alert to be able to react. With such catches. and because of the bounce you have a lot of time. The ball was flying across me. we knew one or two edges might come and we should be in a position to catch them. and you have not been able to grab on to the chance. The second one is once again against Australia. The ball bounced off initially but I was able to hold on to it. There was a bit of extra bounce in the wicket and Ponting played at it. You cannot keep talking cricket the whole day – you have to switch off. Sachin was spinning the ball a long way and Martyn drove at one and I stuck my right hand out and caught it. It went down the leg side and flew to my right. It happens so quickly – sometimes they stick. a sharp chance comes along. a pattern where you know exactly what you are going to do each ball. As for Australia. but you have to put your hand in a position where you at least try. I reacted instinctively and grabbed at it. The fact that it was a tight game.the match. Slip catching does help your batting in terms of your routines. Andrew Flintoff was superb for England. ball after ball. at third slip in Perth [in 2008]. keeps you relaxed. But as soon as the bowler starts running in. We had practised for such a catch because we had recognised Mark Waugh was someone who played Harbhajan really well off his legs. One thing that could help is having a set routine. I have always enjoyed standing in the slips in places like Australia and South Africa because the bounce is true. electricians. It was a critical time in the match. Between balls I talk to my co-slip fielders. Could you talk about your two best catches? In the 2001 Test series against Australia I caught Mark Waugh down the leg side. that Waugh was already 50-plus – in that context it was a huge catch and one I really cherish. about doing it day in. At times the ball just grazes your hand or pops out. not cricket. you switch back on. Taylor. It was a reflexive catch. during the third innings. sometimes they don’t. more instinctive. Do you let it affect you? At some level it does affect you. plumbers. Mahela Jayawardene has lovely hands and is good. again the third innings. but lots of other times about various other topics. Who are the best slip fielders you saw? [Mohammad] Azharuddin and Laxman from India. It comes quickly but at a nice height and at a comfortable pace. you have done well. But you’ve got to quickly move on. What about switching off between deliveries? It is very similar to batting. the one that is memorable is catching Ricky Ponting off Ishant Sharma. So it is about the concentration. Australia collapsed after that. That’s what I was saying earlier – one of the advantages of standing in grounds like Perth is that you have distance. Mark Waugh. You talk sometimes about the game situation. a lot of the time. You are disappointed about letting the bowler down because he has been putting in so much effort to create an opportunity after a lot of planning and thinking. You know you can stand back. That keeps you in that space to do that. The ball carries. so it was a good catch. It had come very quickly. You spoke of switching on. Against fast bowlers. Like me and [VVS] Laxman talk about kids. house construction. It was not a slip catch strictly – it was at backward short leg off Harbhajan in Chennai. if you are able to stick your hand out. Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting. day out. over after over. And on a wicket that bounced a bit. That keeps you focused. running errands. What happens when you drop a catch. in Adelaide in the 2004 series: Damien Martyn against Sachin [Tendulkar]. because the worst . but I moved quickly to my right and reacted quickly to hold the catch.

has more. accept it and try and get the next one. when Dravid took his 200th catch in Test cricket Two Indians have effected 200-plus ODI dismissals as fielder or wicketkeeper. With experience you learn to move on. with 210. Dravid is one. Do you remember all your catches? I can’t remember every one off hand. with 252 dismissals. 2010. . where this interview was first published on December 28. Only MS Dhoni. but if you show me the scorecard I will remember.thing you can do is to be lingering on it and not be in the right state of mind to grab another opportunity that comes along. Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo.

The man .

He batted as a river runs. He carried himself with the same easy dignity in success or failure. Gideon Haigh. page 145 . in India or abroad. A sportsman of model decorum. You could tune in to an innings of his at any time and be unsure whether he had batted six hours or six minutes. at an immemorial pace.

He is lit up by the spotlight. the fans. and on the field. Dravid took cricket seriously but not always himself.[ 21 ] Dignity. yet he never viewed himself as the classical hero. I met him first in 1996. the team. My mother is not given at all to cricket watching. From his wide interests emerged cricket’s most interesting man. yours included. dined at my house and was staggeringly oblivious to my other guests. If the old-fashioned among us have a quaint notion of what the athlete should represent. his nationality irrelevant. don’t ever write about technique. When he came to Singapore once. ambition and etiquette.” His batting could be classical. Greatness can be worn gently. retinue in tow. Indeed. He was prepared to be questioned. It is here. he’d ask. the evening after his retirement press conference. and in a way he became ours. He saw the nylon cages of the practice nets as his university and practised like a man pursuing a degree he might never earn. it was the discovery of himself. he drove to Chelsea FC to wander through their Mind Room. What are you reading. Once. grace. He’d linger in bookshops. There. sit in wildlife parks. yet she sent me an email after his retirement press conference that included the words “poised”. What do you think. He was teased recently that it was fortunate he was not 22. he fell off his hotel bed laughing and offered this advice: “Please. a slim young man. he simply did not have any questions for them. he suggested with amusement that his immediate future included “practising my new sweep shot with a broom”. but tennis. are not virtues in conflict. he preferred his humanness. He had a conscience. As if they were the distant. . toughness. He was forever conscious of the families he represented (his own. watching me take a few casual swipes with his bat. he charmed my friends (one gave him batting advice. stroll into theatres. In a world of gods. perhaps the time of such men has passed. then Dravid met it for us. “grace”. for he would be a misfit: Dravid with his hair gelled. There is for me an irony in the mourning for him in a time when Virat Kohli is worshipped. is an image both amusing and obscene. he smiled). a former cricketer. he’d query. One year he opted to go and learn from a visual skills specialist in South Africa. a tattoo of his wife on his forearm. a man need not lose himself. and his method on the field would be as fastidious. Perhaps we realise what we are losing. conscience ROHIT BRIJNATH t the core of the great athlete often resides a self-centred animal. Not about cricket. faceless crowd in a stadium. the A rest of the world falls into his shadow. snarling. “dignity”. Or you. shirt tucked in. the game at large) and owned an authentic decency we crave in athletes but rarely find. for me. always the grown-up cricketer. During the 1999 World Cup. We needed a reminder that even amidst the over-indulgence and over-worship of modern sport. last summer. Dravid was precocious that way. A man can stay true for 16 years to the idea that desire and sportsmanship. He wore polished shoes but never an aura. that Rahul Dravid found his point of difference. politics. an unadorned man battling his own imperfections with a low-key dignity. hair parted. Life intrigued him.

He wanted to win. and this should have been boring – and well. “I’d like to make a short speech. He was more than just a cricketer and it was evident in our meeting in October 2011. a charming. Because he wouldn’t flinch from honesty and you could challenge him on his thinking as captain or get him to laugh at his own unhurriedness. Struggle. For him – and you’d groan when he repeated his favourite word – it was about the “process”. In some forgotten one-dayer. and if he took defeat manfully he also did so painfully. He had been invited to a discussion on the sporting mind. or rescued a situation. right?” he insisted. in all its forms. he smashed a quick fifty (these very words must make him shiver). and he joked that he received more handshakes for it than for anything before. he’d say. his shots all refined architecture. yes. was his hymn. Of course. playing to his own scholarly sheet music. on the phone he sounded as if he was dying. It was not Dravid at his best. on launch day. On the night after India exited the 2007 World Cup under his captaincy. bloody hell. but this was not his moment. The worst one once found him the most applause. he took me aside. This piece was first published in Mint Lounge on March 10. Runs might emerge in unsightly dribbles – sometimes it was as if to be uninhibited was an act of immodesty for him – but he’d keep going. There were many batsmen in Rahul Dravid. “No speech. 2012 . Laxman offered me art. a man of team cause not crowd. he loved an ugly scrap. but Dravid taught us that the ability to reassure is a gift. He is nearly ten years older than the shooter and far more celebrated. in the evening. and just think. and being in the shadows held no fear for him anyway. and you’d look at this man. Rohit Brijnath is a senior correspondent at the Straits Times in Singapore and the co-author of the autobiography of Abhinav Bindra. is that okay?” And so he did. at the Bangalore launch of Olympic shooting gold medallist Abhinav Bindra’s autobiography. But the cussed Dravid.this uniquely private moment. sometimes it was – except. he wanted Bindra to have the sun. he could be a picture of balanced harmony. for even as kind bloggers would call him “unsung”. a block. I promised. Tendulkar consistent genius. enough has been sung about me. by the end he’d built a lead. shirt bound by sweat. a leave. A leave. Only a discussion. Because he has a strong sense of himself. Sehwag liberation. No. it was simply just Dravid being himself. for that would mean a month’s dutiful hard labour for him. and this was becoming. that he most relished. no. I liked him for this and for his willingness to discuss his own and sufficient imperfections. ferocious in his concentration. Because he understood talent is only lent to you for a while and that only ceaseless industry can allow for its consistent expression. Except. was my favourite. a block. or offered India a winning chance. generous introduction about Bindra and his virtues and the challenge of the Olympics. For such a neat man.

[ 22 ]

A sportsman of model decorum

ahul Dravid is a thinking cricketer. But one person I learned that he does not spend a lot of time
thinking about is… Rahul Dravid.
It was shortly after the Boxing Day Test, and we were having dinner with a mutual friend near my
home, at a spaghetti joint in Lygon Street, Carlton. As happens when you’re in distinguished sporting
company, the subject of conversation turned to setting down some thoughts about that career when it
ended – as Dravid announced yesterday it was.
Test cricket’s second-tallest scorer, and the man who faced more Test deliveries than any other,
would seem to have a tale to tell. Dravid did not agree. What, after all, had he done? He had had a
comfortable upbringing, a good education, a loving marriage and… well, yes, he’d made more than
24,000 international runs with 48 hundreds, but what of it?
Dravid had recently read Andre Agassi’s autobiography, Open. Now that was a story. Drugs, girls,
money, triumph, disaster. By comparison, Dravid said seriously, he had hardly lived at all.
While it seems almost churlish to dispute such a commonsensical self-estimation, on this occasion
let’s quietly beg to differ. For most of his 15 years at the top, Dravid was the most immaculate
cricketer in the game, a batsman of preternatural serenity and a sportsman of model decorum.
That wonderful Indian cricket writer Sujit Mukherjee once said of Dravid’s great antecedent Vijay
Hazare that his innings had “no beginning and no end”, because “whether his score was 2 or 20 or
200, he [Hazare] was assessing the bowling with the same exacting concern that characterised his
every moment at the crease”.
The same was true of Dravid. He batted as a river runs, at an immemorial pace. You could tune into
an innings of his at any time and be unsure whether he had batted six hours or six minutes. He carried
himself with the same easy dignity in success or failure, in India or abroad: unlike the other members
of his country’s prestigious batting elite of Tendulkar, Sehwag, Laxman and Ganguly, he boasted a
higher average away than home.
Dravid’s decision to retire will not come as a great surprise to those who watched him struggle
through the Australian summer. You arrive at a point in contemplation of any great batsman dealing
with poor form where rational explanation no longer suffices. Some little advantage has been lost,
some indefinable aura has faded.
Bowlers sense it: they attack where they used to be content to keep quiet. Fielders sense it: they
crouch in eager expectation of catches, and relax in confidence of accepting them. Such was the case
with Dravid in 2011-12, and he is too perceptive not to have sensed it, despite his valiant struggles. He
was, as ever, a model guest, his Bradman Oration being quite possibly the season’s outstanding Indian
performance. It is also characteristic that Dravid waited until the Australian summer was completely
done with before making any announcement; it is in line with his view that individuals are at the

game’s service, not vice versa.
Not every cricketer ’s cricket faithfully reflects his personality, but Dravid’s would seem to. In
company, he thinks before speaking, gives his interlocutors undivided attention, is unhurried and
That evening, dining al fresco, we were perfectly at the mercy of passing rubberneckers Every two
minutes, it seemed, someone would ask Dravid for an autograph, want him to pose for a photo, or
simply stop to gawk. Even the chef came out to shake his hand.
Dravid gave every petitioner perfect partial attention, not once growing flustered, not once losing
the thread of a conversation – dealing with them rather like balls wide of off stump, giving them their
due but no more. There was, I realised after a while, a well-honed technique to it. Dravid acquiesced
to each request politely but straightforwardly, volunteering nothing in addition. People got the
message; it was impressive.
Various subjects were discussed that evening, which it seems impolite to divulge, and may even be
unenlightening to, because Dravid is so reticent about his career and so respectful of opponents.
About one opponent, though, he was forthcoming, and that was Ricky Ponting. He recalled being
accosted by Ponting, whom he hardly knew and had barely conversed with, during Australia’s tour of
India in 2010. “I want to talk to you,” Ponting insisted.
Dravid wondered what he had done wrong; on the contrary, Ponting wanted to tell him what he was
doing right. Dravid was having a poor series; Ponting urged him to hang in there. “I know you’re not
making runs, and I know there’s probably a bit of pressure on you at the moment,” Ponting told
Dravid. “But let me tell you: every time you come in, I tell the guys that you look like you’re going to
get runs today. You’ve been getting out, but I reckon there are some big scores around the corner for
Dravid was moved by the grace of Ponting’s gesture – as indeed were we, his companions that
night, to hear of it. He went and proved Ponting right, too, enjoying in 2011 the second-most prolific
calendar year of his Test career.
Just over a week after our dinner, Ponting dived headlong for his crease at the SCG, just beating a
throw and achieving his first Test century in nearly two years. It was noticeable that while most of the
Indian fielders assumed excruciated poses, hands on heads, looking martyred, Dravid moved in from
mid-off clapping appreciatively, and perhaps also gratefully.
You would think that having a cricketer play at international level for more than 15 years might
conduce to a little succession planning; this being Indian cricket, you would think wrongly. Nobody
stands out in this Indian line-up as an inheritor of Dravid’s mantle. His retirement will leave the same
breach in his team as it would have done a decade ago.
All the same, there is perhaps no modern cricketer better equipped intellectually and
temperamentally to make a contribution to the game’s governance and direction. Dravid’s greatest
impact on cricket might lie ahead of him. And that would be a story worth telling.
Gideon Haigh is an author and cricket historian, whose writing has been featured, among other places, on ESPNcricinfo, in
the Guardian, and the Australian (where this piece was first published)

[ 23 ]

The reason I got married

’ve always hoped there is an alternate universe where Rahul Dravid is the man, the best batsman in
Ithe world and the guy that everyone wishes they could be. In that world everything he does or says is
gospel. When he bats, the whole world, every single country, stops and sighs. His forward defence is
the sole reason for world peace. It’s as if before him there was no reason to live. Laws are rewritten
for him, ice-cream is named after him, and when he finally retires from cricket he takes over the
whole world as a unanimously elected benevolent leader.
That’s the world I wish Dravid lived in, because I think he deserves it and because of the effect he
has had on my life. I can’t write about him from a distanced and analytical perspective. He once shook
my hand and it’s because of him I’m now married.
Even before he touched me and changed my life, Dravid was always there. In the late ‘90s I’d
become obsessed with him the way you did in those days, via Cricinfo and newspaper scorecards.
When India were touring Australia in 1999-2000 there was much hype over Sachin Tendulkar, so I
went out of my way to make sure that every cricket conversation I had about Indian cricket preceding
that summer had Dravid’s name in it. I wouldn’t let him be forgotten.
Dravid averaged 15.50 that series.
Four years later he came back to Australia as that guy who had stood at the other end while VVS
Laxman defeated Australia. Australians still didn’t really rate Dravid, if they thought of him at all.
Before the 2003-04 series India were playing Victoria at the MCG in a warm-up. I convinced my
girlfriend to spend the day watching some Indian legends and sit in the sun. It was us and a bunch of
Indian students. No one else was stupid enough to watch the third day of a tour match that had fizzled
out well before. The “crowd” were there to see Sachin, and so was I, but I also wanted to see Dravid.
As the fans slowly left, knowing that the chances of Sachin batting were quite low, my girlfriend
begged, abused and did everything short of dragging me out of the ground. Aakash Chopra and
Sadagoppan Ramesh batting quite slowly didn’t please her. But I was resolute. I wanted to see Dravid
This didn’t please my girlfriend even a little bit. But finally I was justified as he strode to the crease.
I told her that she could say she saw Rahul Dravid bat in front of a crowd of 16 people.
Dravid was watchful as he faced Victoria’s back-up wicketkeeper for five balls before the match
was called a draw. My girlfriend and I broke up shortly afterwards. It probably wasn’t because of that
day, but you never know.
Recently I read a piece in an Indian newspaper that described Dravid as more English than most
English people. But I remember when he was pretty Australian. It was in an IPL match where Dravid
had edged to slip and Tendulkar had claimed the catch. You expected Dravid to just walk off.
Tendulkar and Dravid probably know what the other eats for breakfast and what Adam Sandler film is
the other ’s favourite, but here was Dravid, doubting what many people count as the word of god in

through a park. In our own shambolic way. The piece she read was after a drunken day at the MCG. in fact. It was firm. And he didn’t just do it to me. Once on camera. If Dravid was my dog. It was gentle. I’d have taken him out to the country. These were . Before meeting me. With one longer-than-he-agreed-to interview and boisterous handshake. It was ugly to watch. So we have something on our side. But for me it showed that even in an IPL match that he might not take seriously. Either he was just a man who shook as softly as he catches in the slips or he was put off by our shabby demeanour and questionable aroma. I’m not sure any handshake has ever made me feel better. It was completely different from the first – this was the handshake of a man who clearly liked the questions he’d answered and was happy we were making the film. distinguished and reserved. That Monday (which was due to be day five of the 2011-12 series against Australia) he shook my hand twice. she found her way to my cricket site. But it wasn’t the first time Dravid had dragged his carcass around the crease like this. But Dravid shook our hands like we were doing the right thing. Not walking. and you could barely feel the hand whose silky soft touch guides the ball behind point. To see him like this just left me cold. Touching me was something. we could run out of money. without rashness. we appeared to have won over one of the keepers of Test cricket’s flame. my wife was a cricket-obsessed nerd. I am sure many took offence. The Australian way of cricket from cricket’s ultimate gentleman. overdose on chips. I was going to be interviewing Rahul Dravid. He has this way about him that makes you feel like he’s on your side. Dravid agreed to appear. Dravid had reinforced to us that we knew what were doing and that we could. I was pissed off he was opening. Exactly what you’d expect of him. It was brilliant. he answered questions the way he bats – thoughtfully. make a film about something as monstrous as Test cricket’s future and present. Sure. due to our producer ’s insistence and good timing. he went through our whole crew with the same sort of enthusiastic handshake that makes you feel better about yourself and life in general. Dravid had batted like a man who had just been gelded. and other times he answered with an elegantly punched oral drive. He turned up and was polite. and taken a shovel as well. while being dropped 48 times. giving a firm enough shake. and the fact that a batsman like that could be given a Bronx cheer for finally getting off the mark was horrible. and mostly I was pissed off that I had to see him like this. cricketwithballs.India. Reservoir Dogs-style. he still wanted to win more than anything. Sometimes he replied with a late verbal defensive shot. he didn’t treat us like the disgusting men we so clearly were. or even be freakishly killed by some rabid T20 fundamentalist’s aggressive six while we walked. Rahul Dravid is the reason my wife and I got married. I was pissed off he was doing it badly. and one day when she was trawling the puke-infested gutters of the interweb. but Dravid didn’t stop there. where I wrote about a torturous innings when Rahul Dravid made three ones off a trillion deliveries. more like he slapped our hands and then held on. The second handshake came after the interview. Then there was the time I was making a film about Test cricket and luckily. But when we spoke. the man whose forward defence is tattooed into the memory of every Test cricket lover.

and we used a photo of Dravid facing a throw-down there. which. I say. It might even seem to some that I can only remember the bad days of Dravid’s career. and lived the same sort of horror I had. he writes the Cricket Sadist Hour blog and is one of the Two Chucks on the video show of the same name . which is very similar to my right hand. Rahul Dravid is not my favourite cricketer. I know other cricketers far better personally. when he was more than a corpse with pads on. Later on we’d get married and she’d slip a ring on my left hand. And for that. years later. Jarrod Kimber is the author of the cricketwithballs blog. And I suppose I do. Rahul. He’s not the cricketer I get the most enjoyment from. thank you. Seeing my words about Dravid meant she wrote a comment. and we bonded over seeing Dravid at his worst and wishing we hadn’t. Our wedding was at The Oval. But I don’t need to be the one writing about how great a player he was. the place of Dravid’s last overseas Test century. On one other occasion when Dravid had struggled in the UK. and his forward defence. my future wife had been there. shook Dravid’s right hand. On ESPNcricinfo. I’m the one who writes about how this stoic Test champion changed my life by his very existence. he was a fully kitted-up cadaver.the dark days for Dravid. The picture was taken only a couple of days before my wife wrote that comment. At the reception the tables were named after cricket grounds. Runs had become sparse and painful for Dravid. One was the MCG.

so to speak. relaxed informality that put me instantly at ease. would induce in me trouser-soiling. At times I had to keep reminding myself that this was Rahul Dravid. I arrived at his house on time. Steyn. and prompted me to ask all the questions I wanted to. but assured him that I would be just fine). Waqar – bowlers who. reminded me that I was talking to a person located at a very particular focal point of international cricket. suddenly his expression changed. I would do it one way or the other. just for a second. Of course. I told myself that I had to bat at least 30 overs in a Test. And then. I called and spoke briefly with him on the phone. Shortly after I received word that I should go ahead and contact Rahul. on its response to the introduction of the franchise into a nation-based game.000 Test runs. Bishop. the level of cricketing knowledge on display. even solicitously inquiring whether I knew my way about Bangalore (I didn’t. I had failed. as I felt a slight chill run up my spine. Ambrose. McGrath. it happened. The smiling. I was in the presence of a man who had squared up to. If I didn’t do that. the lines on his visage tautened. “My attitude towards batting was simple: the bowler had to earn my wicket. At that moment I realised I was in the presence of 10. Dravid said. brought us tea. I intended to write on the changing face of modern cricket. spit-drying fear. Mrs Dravid joined us for a few minutes. providing detailed directions to his house. of umpteen thousands of deliveries faced. I could have been talking to someone who was a keen fan of cricket rather than a Test great and a former India captain. He was unfailingly courteous and helpful. As we talked about the transition from first-class cricket to Test cricket. Dravid’s name suggested itself as an obvious choice.[ 24 ] The money moment SAMIR CHOPRA Ithen n January 2011 I travelled to Bangalore to meet Rahul Dravid and interview him for the book I was writing. . and soon our conversation started. and on the effects of media and technology on the game. Akram. Donald. and sometimes bluntness of his observations on cricket. on the challenges Test cricket faced. At that moment the friendly mask slipped. and the insights that only someone on the inside of the game could have. When I thought of which Indian cricketers I would most like to talk to. relaxed demeanour that he had assumed till that point in the conversation was gone. resisted and scored off. and I saw the steel and the grit that had made so many of India’s greatest Test wins possible. I stared at him. a slight sense of unreality pervaded the proceedings. This man simply did not have the airs of a sporting superstar. Dravid was dressed casually and conducted himself with a polite. and then left to take care of their boys. His face hardened. among others. As I talked to Dravid. Walsh. asked me a few questions about my background.” As he said this. a lump now present in my throat. someone who was rich and famous and hobnobbed with other cricketing superstars (though he did sometimes casually refer to them by first name). The money moment. casual. sharpness. from Test cricket to oneday games and T20. quite frankly. the quality. was shown in.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. It is the closest I have ever come to knowing what goes into the making of a great cricketer. and the new aspirations of young Indian cricketers. I remain even more appreciative that he let me see. He writes the blog The Pitch (on ESPNcricinfo).com . Our conversation lasted some four hours. He wished me luck with my writing and was then gone. At the end of it Dravid drove me to the entrance of the residential estate where his house was located. and runs a couple of others – Eye on Cricket and samirchopra.And then we were back to being chatty about modern cricket. just for a brief moment. the big paychecks in the IPL. While I remain grateful that he took the time to speak so frankly and voluminously to an utter stranger. right into the heart of a true champion. so that I could hail a cab. 2012. where this piece was first published on March 9.

Samit. He would do breathing exercises and clean his nostrils using the ancient practice of Jalneti. he was already thinking of excelling in the Ranji Trophy – a leap I could not even comprehend at that age. Perhaps then I might have graduated to a higher level of cricket too. a Tamil Nadu batsman. Rahul was difficult as well as easy to share with. He had his set routines and rituals. the ball would travel at an angle. Keki Tarapore. After he made his Ranji debut he told me it was just the beginning . he read books instead. Rahul quipped: “SG = RD. And that came from his upbringing. It was very boring. A few of us were standing by a juice stall in the hostel’s atrium when a curly-haired short guy walked up and asked for Mujib-urRehman. we were in Nagpur for an age-group inter-zone tournament. Rahul set the bar high for himself. Rahul knew very early in life what he wanted. I see the same qualities in his older son. he has played the same way. Sunil Gavaskar = Rahul Dravid. even in those days. He paid attention to detail. but in hindsight I wish I had done the same. I remember during a physics lesson in class six or seven. Rahul never forgot the instruction. We told him Rehman was over-age and was not part of the squad. would not watch TV much. our coach. His ability to look at the big picture at a young age was amazing. Even at that age he was serious – a little different from the others. but the next day that kid got a big hundred for West Zone. He didn’t seem to realise that the rest of us were normal human beings who wanted to make noise. These qualities helped Rahul through his cricketing life. It was Sachin Tendulkar.[ 25 ] Start as you mean to go on FAZAL KHALEEL first met Rahul at St Anthony’s Boys Primary School in Bangalore but only got to know him better Iwhen we moved to St Joseph’s High School in class four. who has the same ability to switch on and off easily. would tell us that if the bat did not come down straight. while the teacher was explaining how specific gravity is equal to relative density. he never made any changes to his basic cricket or in his approach to the game. Interestingly. he tried to model his game on Gavaskar ’s. He is going to play for India. He was quiet and meditative. and while he may not admit it. When correcting our mistakes. When he left. If his form was not good he would go back to shadow-practice – to the hanging ball. to get out of difficult situations and to handle easy ones well. especially the basics. Sunil Gavaskar and Gundappa Viswanath were his heroes. Rahul said: “This guy is a good player. He wanted a zen-like atmosphere in the room – everything peaceful and calm. Playing in the V came naturally to him and he never altered it.” I laughed. Right from his school cricket days. When we were concentrating on getting into Under-19 sides.” In 1987. As a room-mate. inside two years he had made his debut for India. His parents equipped him with solid middle-class values that helped him move seamlessly from one level to the other.

The man kept going at him but Rahul sat there quietly with his pads on. J Arun Kumar. In the 1996-97 season he was playing in the Ranji Trophy for Karnataka after being dropped from the India squad for the ODI series against Sri Lanka. He always inspired youngsters with his leadership qualities and his performances. Karnataka travelled to play Hyderabad in the Ranji semi-final in Secunderabad. After a while I half stood up to give the man a piece of my mind. I told my roommate. were bowling together. not some also-ran. and it was difficult at times for me to decide who was better: Rahul Dravid the human being or Rahul Dravid the cricketer. and said to play out the day. and that it was good to take in constructive criticism. Venkatapathy Raju and Kanwaljit Singh. But while he was patient. Once he left.and that he now wanted to play for India. Unfortunately I got an inside edge onto my pads and was caught at silly point. During lunch one day. Fazal Khaleel. Then we patched up and had a good laugh. Karnataka. We were desperate to do well that season and the pressure was on. Later Rahul gave me some stick for the dismissal. his determination to excel only grew. Half an hour before the end of the second day’s play I was batting with Rahul. which I did not like at the time. that he played for in the Chennai leagues. Rahul letting me have it spurred me to do better. The match went down to the wire and I scored a crucial 51 in our successful chase. He is the perfect example of “practise what you preach”. where our dressing room was a makeshift tent. which meant he was often harsh on himself. spoke to ESPNcricinfo assistant editor Nagraj Gollapudi . We were playing at the RSI grounds in central Bangalore. a spectator walked up and started to criticise Rahul’s batting and slow scoring. People always had immense respect for him. In a way. India Cements. a former Karnataka first-class cricketer who played age-group cricket and Ranji Trophy with Rahul Dravid. but Rahul pulled me back down. it was hardly surprising. he’d speak his mind if he wasn’t happy with your work. As the years went by. The more successful Rahul became. he said he wanted to be remembered as one of the greatest to have played for India. and even the corporate club. Coming from a man who can play out days for a run. After he returned from his debut Test series in England. that till we won the match I wouldn’t talk to Rahul. Rahul said the man had made a couple of good points. supposedly because of his defensive style of batting. the more humble he got. The seriousness with which he played affected the various dressing rooms he was in – India. He would never ask you to do anything he would not do himself. He warned me not to get distracted while Hyderabad’s veteran spinners. In 1998.

Grassy wicket? No problem. Baby Rahul with his parents An early start: Dravid wields a bat nearly as big as himself In his India Under-19 days .

on show in a Ranji Trophy match against Tamil Nadu in 1991 The Bangalore boys: Dravid. Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble. flanked by offspinner Rangarao Ananth on the left and former England batsman Colin Cowdrey on the right. bat safely behind pad. Venkatesh Prasad.The elaborate forward defence. at the Karnataka State Cricket Association Class of 1996: Dravid announced his arrival in Test cricket with 95 at Lord’s .

and finished it as the highest run-getter In Kent colours. he began the tournament with a 129-ball 145 in Taunton. 2000: Dravid said his six-month stint with the county helped him better understand his game and himself . He made a hundred in the second innings as well. Dropped for his slow scoring before the 1999 World Cup.Batting during his first-innings 190 in Hamilton in 1999.

making a teeth-gritted 148 to set the platform for India’s first Test win in England in 16 years .The duet: some of Dravid’s finest efforts came with VVS Laxman at the other end – most famously his 180 in Kolkata in 2001 In 2002 he mastered the swing and seam of Headingley.

Solo again: in Adelaide in 2003. his 233 and 72 not out gave India their first Test win in Australia since 1981 Dravid carried on in the 2003 World Cup where he had left off in 1999. effecting 16 dismissals . scoring 318 runs. He also kept wicket.

and the series 2-1 Dravid won the first ICC awards for Player of the Year and Test Player of the Year. the 270 in Rawalpindi in 2004. was his fourth double-hundred in 20 months. 2004 With sons Samit (above) and Anvay His highest score. Greece. India won the Test by an innings. in September 2004.Colour-coordinated with wife Vijeeta on holiday in Santorini. for over 2000 runs across both formats .

and remained in peak fitness till the end of his career Kingston. Dravid’s 81 and 68 won India their first series in the West Indies in 35 years .Physio’s delight: Dravid rarely flunked the dreaded skin-folds test. 2006 was another classic of standalone defiance.

Sourav Ganguly. on the 2007 tour of England His captaincy career ended on a high. VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar.One of the toughest days of his captaincy came when India left the 2007 World Cup in the first round after defeats to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka The fab four: Dravid. with a win in the Pataudi Trophy – India’s first series victory in England since 1986 .

Dravid broke the world record. Dravid broke out of a run of poor form to score a crucial 93 in India’s famous win in Perth In 2008. in 2007-08. in December 2010.000 Test runs. he became the sixth batsman to have scored 10.On his third trip to Australia. taking his 200th catch in Tests . Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar are the only other Indians to have gone past the milestone Long one of India’s best specialist slip catchers.

with three Test hundreds and an average of 76 . thanks largely to Dravid’s second-innings 112 Fifteen years after his debut at Lord’s. it must be Jamaica: another win in Kingston for India.If it’s June. Dravid returned to England for one of his finest series.

Old-school Test batsman or not. Dravid didn’t fare too badly in the IPL. . In 2012 he captained Rajasthan Royals in the tournament.

In cricket. I must confess. As part of my post-graduate training I had spent a year in a Maharashtra village as a medical officer. To me the real anxieties of life were under the knife.[ 26 ] My husband the perfectionist VIJEETA DRAVID ’ve been married to Rahul for almost nine years now and we have always been very private people. After we got married. it was as if in the last year of his career Rahul had found his best audience. After the 2010-11 tour of South Africa. we went into the Lord’s dressing room and showed Samit and Anvay their baba’s name on the Lord’s honours board. suddenly developed a huge interest in cricket. Now that I have witnessed the crazy world of Indian cricket. All he had said to me was that once we were married. Our families had been friends for years. I didn’t have a clue about Test cricket and was too caught up in my post-graduate studies in medicine to find out. but I didn’t quite realise what an unusual quality that really is. . had seen a lot of life by then. During the ODI series. Samit. Rahul dropped in at our house for dinner: very normal evenings. which he has always been. The last 12 months of his career were very special for us for more than the runs or centuries Rahul scored. we would travel a lot. our older son. people were not invited in to show him off to. IThis is not meant to be a song of praise for him on his retirement. What I noticed then was how curious he was about other people and their lives. I have two older brothers. Rahul and I will always treasure that memory. and to take that in for myself at the end of his 16year international career. I was very involved with my work. to see him at the “work” that kept him away from them for months. helping women deliver babies. With him watching his father score his centuries in England in 2011. which meant I did follow cricket – but only one-day cricket. doing surgeries and post-mortems. and we also travelled to every match of the one-day series. without fuss. I stepped into a completely alien environment. I’m writing this to provide an insight into the role cricket has played in his life. my post-graduation studies had made me a little more mature than I would have been if I had got married at 21. I would meet a lot of different people and I would learn along the way. A couple of times during Tests in Nagpur. the real pressures were in hospital wards. Just a normal evening in a normal house. where he was treated like a normal person. What I did know was that Rahul had been picked to play for India. I didn’t get it at all. working with basic facilities. how to handle being dropped and so on. Very little of the conversation was about him. I was with the boys at Old Trafford when Rahul played his first (and last) T20 international. I found people talking about difficulties and pressures. and later that he was doing well. It was a huge thrill for both boys to see Rahul play live in front of so many people. We would talk more about my internship in surgery and my work as a rural medical officer than about his cricket. How the game has made him who he is and how he has been able to get the most out of his time in international cricket. At the time I appreciated it. I think he must have enjoyed those dinners.

we’ve done better than the three or four years he thought about in 2003. I did not even touch it. I thought: not bad. know his game. I was still trying to get to know him. much later. not to the crease. I fully understood the significance of Rahul’s double-century and that victory much. When he retired in March 2012. I didn’t realise the magnitude of that innings in cricketing terms. that has mattered to me. who have helped me understand the tempo of Test cricket. These days. though. unconscious or accidental. I would pack all his other bags. He is not enamoured of gadgets and barely registers brands. It was six months before I travelled with him for the first time. before he could get into a match day. He would go into his room to meditate or maybe to do a few visualisation exercises. bowling changes. It was only then that I began to notice how he would prepare: his routines. even when they were babies – we made sure we got two rooms. When I went in to work that day. Before he went on tour. to get what I thought of as his “internal milieu” settled. to St John’s Medical College. of watches. I had no clue as to how he had fared in 1999. Early in our marriage I saw that there was nothing about his cricket that was casual. and only when we came back to India did I hear people talk about Australia. so much so that when there was a match I wanted to follow but there was no live TV. I was told there were some reporters who had come to talk to me. of course.Very early in our marriage. I got hooked on to it. I remember Rahul saying to me that he was hoping to play for the next three or four years and that he would need me to be with him to support him in that time. not for the bus. everyone getting up at five in the morning. If the weight of his bat is off by a gram. he would wear them in turn all through a tour for weeks if he had to and not think about it. but I could tell people were happy. when the Indian team toured Australia in 2003. but his cricket kit was sacred. and he was. (At one point I thought he was sleepwalking. his wife was an individual herself and her world was as important as his was. why the tour was so important to everyone. When we began to travel with the kids – and he loved having the boys around during a series. When I went to Melbourne and Sydney. which he has to listen to. All he said he needed was ten minutes to himself. He has used one type of moisturising cream for his dry skin for 20 years. Rahul never spoke about it himself either. As I began to understand the game. I followed the game on the internet and enjoyed the text commentary as much as I did the immediacy of being able to follow scores. Only Rahul handled it. of course. I packed his things knowing full well that if I packed two sets of informal clothes. Everyone around him knew that cricket was and had to be his utmost priority. We have shared a very good half of his cricket career together. next to each other. Rahul will notice it in an instant and get the problem fixed. field placements and the importance of sessions – all the things that can make Test cricket an adventure. I have my own theories about cricket.) I’ve learnt what I have about Test cricket by talking to him. I didn’t speak to them. On match days Rahul wanted his space and his silence. cologne or cars. I watched his Adelaide innings back home on television with his parents. He didn’t like being rushed. his obsession with shadow practice at all hours of the day. and knowing how much he loves the game. It had been six months without international cricket – we had spent three months in Scotland. We saw him go from 199 overnight on the third day to 200 very early on a Monday morning. On the morning of the game. and a few of his close friends. . It was as if he was conscious that while his career was the only thing that was talked about. which I first found very weird. I was happy that I was back with him and he was doing well. The day before every match. the boys were told that their father had to be left alone for a while.

” I just said to him that he was the one who knew everything about his game. and regardless of everything. “Shucks. On the 2011 tour to England. “I’d never seen him like that and he threw a chair not because we’d lost but because of how we’d lost. Never Mr Gloomy. He often said that to succeed in international cricket for such a long time. He often fit in his five hours of training and nets when none of us were at home. I have tried meditation myself and I know that the zone Rahul is able to get into as quickly as he does takes a lot of years of training to reach. I always told him. I’ve had a bad day. He never grumbles. I lost my temper in the dressing room.” He wouldn’t say more. To play well in tough conditions. at home he was always husband. In January 2011.” he said.he would get up and do another session of meditation before leaving for the ground. I remember. the one thing that bothered him was that he didn’t want to be playing if he wasn’t contributing and if he was taking a youngster ’s place. “Hang on. he only said one thing: this game has given me so much in life that I will never be bitter. father. Other than dropped catches. because he can internalise everything. on good days and bad. Rahul has been able to deal with all that goes on in cricket because of two reasons – he can put things in perspective and he can switch focus from one world to another when he needs to. but at that point he can compartmentalise his life very well. In that game. Rahul got his first Test hundred at Lord’s. When I began to understand the politics that exist in the game. It can only come from a real deep love for the game. he has this fantastic ability to switch off from it. he found a way to work his training around the family. It is all part of the complete equilibrium he tries to achieve before getting into a series. and it is very. He had more than 10. and he had always said that he would go if he was not contributing. At the end of the day’s play. around the 2010-11 season. If Samit needs help with . give it another series and then see if you are taking anyone’s place. “Oh.” He has always been even-tempered. Like all players. When he was going through a very tough time. Despite all this preparation and attention to detail. that will never go away. he will be itching to go back and try again. “I have only thought about me and my cricket… but I’m learning to be unselfish. He will walk out to the sea to wind down or go to bookstores. find something to do: go to a movie or watch musicals – which he loves. he wouldn’t speak about his “work”. family man. on instinct I said to him. He doesn’t try a new bat out in a series. Rahul too has his superstitions. after South Africa. I shouldn’t have done something… I got a bit angry today. He would rather go out. sometimes they don’t. he may be thinking about it. he made sure he sat in the same space in the Lord’s dressing room that Tillakaratne Dilshan had occupied when he scored 193 earlier in the season. sometimes they work.” That said.” Rahul has always had a very good understanding of what was important about his being in cricket and what was not. once the game is on. he returned from a Test and said. He did think about retirement then. play well abroad.” Unless asked. and he puts his right thigh guard on first. Whatever happened in his cricket. his batting may bother him. very difficult to understand what he is feeling. He never came home saying. He won’t order room service or brood indoors. Many months later Veeru (Sehwag) told me that Rahul had actually thrown a chair that day. “Because this is what I have stood for.000 Test runs. There is so much to be thankful for. “I don’t know about averages. Only once. to contribute to victories. and a lot of my answers would be about my gut. We did have discussions about whether he should go at that time.

It meant a lot to him. it was wonderful to enter the dressing room to celebrate India’s first series win there after 35 years. I’m your wife. 2012 . are completely lost on him. when Samit was three months old. and two months later in the West Indies. I think of Rahul as the most non-materialistic person I have ever come across. over who changed the nappies or why he didn’t get angry about this or that. After he received the Padma Shri in Delhi for 2004. Rahul was fine when I travelled. “Hello. He didn’t care about the correct “cricket wife” image. and to me that said it all. Rahul enjoyed being a father and was also very. what I said to anyone. I’ve read a lot of stuff about how cricketers get “disturbed” when their wives are on tour. I remember entering the room for the inaugural ICC awards event. Not by throwing a lavish party or anything showy. He insisted that all the wives and family on tour were invited into the dressing room and included in the celebrations – most satisfying for all of us who were travelling with the team. Retirement will mean a big shift in Rahul’s life. (Though he also knew that a dad who has fielded for 90 overs in the Caribbean heat is not going to be asked to change nappies!) We had our challenges as travelling parents. If given a choice. I was the one who insisted that we rejoice when good things happened. What he wanted after that was to find out when he was going to bat again. and said. he gets irritated with me when I am being what he calls a little “wife-ish” and asking him why he did what he did and why he didn’t tick somebody off or say no to something. very patient. doctors. not to impress people as to how modest he was. batting or competing. At the end of it all. I often tell Rahul he is a very good husband but would have been a very boring boyfriend! He has always had a wide view of the world and the ability to see the larger picture and take things beyond the trivial and the individual. The other nominees included big names like Brian Lara. It meant that once we lived out of a hotel room for 69 days at a stretch. brands. not easy with a baby. The ceremony was very long. because. the one that was to be given to the Player of the Year. but just by bringing home some ice-cream. Gadgets. the next day he looked at the papers and said that to see just their photos on the front pages was unfortunate. Of course we argue. scientists. This article was first published on ESPNcricinfo on March 12. He wasn’t fussed about anything – whether I worked when I wanted to. though. along with Sourav. we had to go through many courses of our sit-down English dinner. It was repeated in England the year after. he gave me a little hug before going on stage. Rahul will be there to help. but I remember telling him during the course of a phone conversation once. he said. though. When he was awarded the Player of the Year. gizmos. “Will be nice to get it. Next only to my father. of not having training or team-mates around him or the chance to compete again. Samit once burned his hand in the West Indies when Rahul was on the field. because to him real heroes are soldiers. when he looked at a car on display. The family. like all couples do.” In turn. Ricky Ponting.his homework. We did as young parents. In all these years he has let me be me.” I knew he wasn’t thinking about the car. Matthew Hayden and Muttiah Muralitharan. Cricketers have to be diplomatic when talking to the media during series. his enjoyment came when he was on the field. Don’t speak as if this is a press conference. both in the Pakistani winter. he would never celebrate any of his on-field achievements at home. He doesn’t like the word “hero” being used carelessly. Rahul was saying this at home. is delighted to have him back.

I’m retiring.[ 27 ] ‘When you’ve played at the top. And how long that would have lasted. You’re fighting. so to just walk away might have been hard. did you feel relief or did you feel disappointment?” And I had never thought about it that way. What do you assess when making a decision to retire? It’s a combination of things. when I was really struggling and not getting runs. In the end it just comes down to knowing and being comfortable with it. and that’s why I said that England for me… it was important for me to keep contributing. A lot of people told me: “You will just know. Obviously after England I felt I was in good form and that I needed to go to Australia. maybe I would have been comfortable doing it then. “When you made that decision. who knows. Not with the intention of trying to make a comeback – I know that if I had got dropped at 36 or 37. the likelihood of me making a comeback would have been very slim. Rahul. If things had not gone well in England. If I had been dropped at that stage. “Eric. But to end a career with the IPL? In some ways it’s like a weaning-off period. when the time is right. it’s hard to settle for second-best’ INTERVIEW BY SHARDA UGRA March 2012 How does a player pick the right time to retire? How did you? What’s the difference between a slump and a sign that your time is up? What separates doubt from foresight? It’s actually very hard to tell if there is such a thing as a right time. There was a period in 2008. I’ve not regretted it. As you get older these things do come in. I called him up and said.” Obviously there are other things that come into consideration: where you are in your life. I don’t know.” And Eric said. All your career. That’s a major factor. And I just think I was most comfortable doing it at this stage. and I felt that it was going to be a tough tour and that it wouldn’t be right to walk away after doing well in England… it may sound silly. Playing cricket has been such a big part of my life. I would’ve still continued to play first-class cricket. There are the immediate challenges of tours like Australia and England. and you want to try to go there and make a difference. what the future challenges are. the end of 2008. The important thing to remember is how much you are contributing. where the team is at that point of time. After retiring. Some of the senior guys who’ve retired and played the IPL say the IPL’s a good way. in the sense that I wanted to go when I was comfortable. which you think are tough. you keep improving. I . to slowly wean yourself off the drug that is cricket. It was a game I loved and I still enjoyed playing it. how you fit into that. I’ve lived this life for 20 years. in some ways. I wouldn’t have played for wanting to make a comeback. but just wanting to finish on a high – that hadn’t occurred to me. I never thought about going out on a high or going out on a slump. did you think: what if this is a mistake? I think the best question someone asked me about this retirement thing came from Eric Simons. you’re taught to never never give up. and there was a lot of talk of me being dropped. but because I still wanted to just play the game. I haven’t regretted it and I hope I won’t regret it. you always think you can sort out problems. Rahul. It was a feeling of relief and I did feel it. I probably would have continued playing Ranji Trophy at that stage.

But I was lucky to get a chance to play a couple of years of cricket. and they say it takes a bit of time to get used to. Very rarely people can. What do retired players tell you about coping? I have spoken to people who have retired. and especially coaches. Because I’ve always tried to do my best – you’ve always got to try to be the best you can be and hope that the results fall your way. you are doing it at 40 rather than at 17 or 18. We miss a lot of things. Each one is different. that I got dropped from the one-day side. but you know that’s not possible. in 2007. I’ll enjoy the luxury of now having that choice. I guess that’s the way it’s going to be. And when it’s the only thing that you’ve known. and even Duncan [Fletcher] now. You have to start all over again. Other than that I had a pretty smooth run for a long time. I think. What is it about life after cricket that you think a player fears the most? Each one has his own fears. I think I’ll enjoy the flexibility of being able to make some choices about things I want to do. You get used to it and then there are new things to challenge you and you must move on. was difficult. if I may say so. I think that was a really hard period. I thought I’d really had a good run and I could have walked away in 2008 and felt pretty comfortable with what I had done and achieved. in a lot of ways can be daunting to people. other than the first couple of years when I was establishing myself. It’s almost like going back to college. That. like going back to what you felt like when making a decision about whether you want to do commerce or engineering. when I questioned myself a lot and wondered whether it had all just disappeared and gone away. You have no control over schedules. step out of something they’ve done for 23 years and attain the same standards in whatever they do. that whole period. you have no control about where you want to play. when it’s something you’ve done all your life. 2007-08. . You can’t expect a guy at 40-41 to become “world class” at something else. What about international cricket won’t you miss. I guess. The only problem is. We miss college. and it’s not easy. Gary [Kirsten]. apart from the travel and being away from family? In a cricket career your life is in some ways controlled for you. and with skills you’ve worked on for 20 years at the exclusion of other skills.might miss it. Whether it’s been conversations with Kapil Dev or through the years with John [Wright]. everyone wants to go back to Uni and live that life again. I think while I’ll miss the routine and knowing what to strive for. Hopefully you move on. I think. for a while. it hadn’t worked out. It was the first phase in my career. getting knocked out of the World Cup and not performing so well after I gave up the captaincy. You will know that there are other things to do and other challenges. That was tough in terms of some of my performances. If it hadn’t worked out. you don’t have control over that as a cricketer. All of them have gone through that. because you are used to competing and playing at an extremely high level. Before you actually retired. You pride yourself on a certain level of competence and a certain level of ability. When you are used to playing at that top level. and I wouldn’t have regretted it at all. Greg [Chappell]. it’s almost like starting out fresh again. it’s hard to accept that sometimes you have to settle for being second-best. especially. was there a time in your career that you were so fed up that you actually wanted to throw it all away? Obviously the period just after the World Cup when we lost.

on raising the bar of my fitness. Maybe [time] just wears you down – the travelling. sadly they can’t do much about it. who was the strength and conditioning coach at the NCA. Even when I was doing badly in 2007-08. I set a pretty high standard of fitness for myself. As a player you will never admit to weakness. You have bad patches when you are 24-25. I think. You’re trained not to admit these things. You do perform better when you’re fit. the dealing with expectations. You need to spend a lot of time working on your skills and honing your skills. After 35.” I don’t think that’s enough. I saw in those physios and trainers. he will say you’ve still got 20-20 vision. I didn’t want any of the younger guys or people in the field to feel that I wasn’t fit enough to be there. I was pretty fit. whatever yo-yo tests we have and weights you lift – as I was when I was playing my best cricket. fitness and diet and stuff like that. Did it have a direct impact on your game in the last few years? It’s hard to co-relate the two. chipping away. but fitness. the pressure. “Look. Sometimes fitness is a good thing to have but you have to recognise that fitness takes you only so far. eyesight etc? I didn’t sense it like that personally. those things slowly start chipping away. to a large extent you can control. no.” While I did try. But I’d like to believe that till I finished my career. “Now it’s started decreasing and now it has decreased. And I sort of decided to utilise that completely. who. who knows? Maybe sometimes these things are better judged from outside. because if I wanted to keep playing at this age. to a slowing down of skills. and with the NCA’s physios and trainers. I was probably doing more in terms of some things now than I was when I was young. in terms of my physical fitness. the eyesight is gone. but maybe we are trained not to sense it. I did make a conscious effort to try and raise the bar of my fitness. and skills are the most important thing. Sometimes you practise and work hard and still things don’t pan out. at 28-29. Fitness just helps you execute those cricketing skills for longer and more consistently. Maybe it has nothing to do with age and you’re just going through bad form and you happen to be 35. you have responsibility over it. it was hard to say I’ve been at my fittest. and it’s only when you have bad patches after 35-36 that people say your skills are down. When cricketers go into their late 30s do they sense what the outside world observes as a fading of their skills? Slowing down of reflexes. whatever they do and whatever they try. I’ll make an effort to be as fit as I’ve been. I felt as fit in terms of physical fitness – if you judge fitness in terms of sprinting a distance. you do feel better about yourself. I said. a resource – really good professional people who could help me. How do you judge eyesight? If you go to a doctor and ask him.” The best explanation I’ve heard for this is that mentally sometimes you are fresher when you are . It’s hard to put a date to it and say. and that I didn’t let anybody down in terms of the effort I put in. I’m not saying you can control everything in fitness – there are a lot of guys who have injuries. I was lucky that we had all those people here.How much was working on your fitness a part of pushing yourself through the last four or five years from then on? I spent two-three years working with Paul Chapman. Sometimes performances you can or can’t control. maybe. “I’ll spend the off season working on my fitness and I’ll come back a better cricketer. but it’s hard to say. But in most things. and in Paul. Was I really fitter in England last year than I was in 2007 when I was doing badly? Really. Probably I was fitter back then when I was in England. If someone thinks. But fitness is a lot simpler. running a distance. In some areas I was fitter than I was at 24-25 and in some areas I was not. so no.

In England I felt we had quite a few injuries and I just felt we weren’t as well prepared as we were in Australia. success. the sense of excitement. Top bowlers and top bowling attacks keep asking you different questions. obviously it happened a few times more than I would have liked. for some it is the ability to play spin. no doubt about it. lbw. I think we all complemented each other.younger. home and away. But those are challenges you face all your life. I felt that getting out is getting out and obviously constantly getting out… So it really doesn’t matter whether you were out caught. with our ups and downs. and Sachin got out that evening and I got out next morning. I think that is what differentiates people who play for long periods of time from others. and it all went badly. we had some opportunities in the first Test we didn’t grab. pressure is better. I’d like to believe that if I had continued. the best preparation. After you’ve been there three or four times. You become a problemsolver. I thought we went there with the best of intentions. We complemented each other quite well. For some it is getting out in a particular way. whatever? I don’t like getting out. maybe that sense of wonder goes. They bowled well. That’s the best explanation for why after a period of dealing with some of the same things they become more difficult. there were guys who played spin in a particular way. pitched the ball up. a solution-finder. I think we played a role. I would hopefully have worked on this area [getting bowled] and got better at it. 3 after an opening combination of Boycott and Tavaré. Most of the guys that I know who have played over a period of time have constantly been able to find answers to the questions that keep getting asked. stumped. is there an era in the game you would have liked to have played in? When I think about the fact that I had helmets. For some it is a different bowler. Veeru [Sehwag] and Gautam Gambhir have come in and done quite well and played a role too. What went wrong? I think Australia was disappointing. 3 in the mould largely of an opening batsman. I . We had them at some 210 for 6 and then they got 320 and we were about 220 for 2. As you get older. You were a No. as much as you lent solidity to it? Imagine being the No. Like what you experience the first time you walk into Lord’s. The fact that we did quite well in the last decade. guys who were more solid… throw in a left-hander in the middle. But yeah. You’ve not been worn down so much. the freshness gets lost. Test player. in each helping the other one do as well as they have done. they pitched the ball up. Having said that. bowled. Australia must have been the tour from hell? You went there with the best intentions. How it happens is almost irrelevant. There were stroke-makers. You set high standards for yourself. I think I’m happy to have played in this era. and you know your history. almost old-fashioned. The beauty of it is that now I don’t have to worry about it. was because of a batting line-up that complemented each other. From a personal point of view? All the bowleds? It was disappointing. period. So your response to defeat. Australia. for some to play pace. we fed off each other. Playing some of those West Indian quicks and some of those guys without a helmet must have been a frightening proposition. So do you think that coming into a line-up full of stroke-makers actually worked for your game. They played better. Given that you are seen as a classical. failure. rather than a fading of skill. they swung the ball. you have got to give them credit. on a different wicket. because they keep getting asked questions. These questions keep getting asked and you have to constantly keep coming up with answers. the guys cared. a unique angle.

It sort of focuses you on one thing. We don’t talk too much about technique. That in itself is a technique. Sachin. There’s quite a lot of information that is exchanged. You can’t be thinking about a hundred things. but to be a positive player you have to have a very solid technique. For me it’s worked well with all the guys I’ve played with. and it’s just that there’s an attacking technique and a defensive technique. We all played for such a long time together that we worked out what was comfortable for us. and get me on the strike as well. If you are able to play positively. it’s a lot more casual and relaxed. Each one has his own unique conversations with you and you have your conversation with them. I’ve had a good record with Veeru. With Laxman – we’ve played a lot together in junior cricket. and we keep encouraging each other. Over the course of time it has built. India is fighting to save a game. If you have to be a successful batsman you have to be able to focus on the ball. The fact that some of them played more strokes allowed me to sometimes play in a way that I could play or felt most comfortable playing. our own places. I guess: the ability to focus on a particular thing by removing everything else – the score.think I had a role. You have the world record for the most century partnerships. we respect and know each other enough to go and tell the other that maybe you are relaxing. do batting partners have what they say doubles players do in tennis – a chemistry that builds? Or is it just familiarity? It partly builds with familiarity. so you try to get that one particular focus. . Technique is not only about being able to defend balls. With Ganguly it’s. The conversations are different. With Veeru. and I helped some of the guys play better. What do you talk about? Technique? I know people go after Veeru’s technique a lot. you don’t change your game. When you look back. it’s probably a casual conversation – he brings that side out of you. we just encourage each other a lot. it does help – it’s a comfort factor. “I’m actually quite serious with Rahul”. In a partnership. the meditative aspect of it. so again we have a few key things we say to each other. “Don’t just hog the strike when the spinner is bowling. When you come in at 3 for 1. is the cricket ball. The ability to wear out some of the bowlers did help our stroke-makers. I think both are important. If you asked him. That is. With Sachin – we don’t talk a lot. I guess. buddy. Laxman. but I think we know. Over the course of time we also found our niche. you need to tighten up a bit. and it seemed to gel well and it worked for the team as well. but his level of seriousness… Veeru is always asking you to play shots. Both of them are techniques. You have some memories to go back to constantly. it means you are getting yourself in the right position at the right time and doing it quicker and better than someone else. You can’t be thinking about all these things. he would say. or knows exactly when you’re getting casual or you’re not concentrating. which. how is that possible? You can’t think about these things when you are batting and the bowler is running in at you. you can’t. Some guys are better at their defensive technique and some guys have a better attacking technique. and that’s meditation. because we’ve played together a long time.” One of the things you’ve said about batting is that it is a meditative experience. Once you’ve been around each other a long time and played together a long time. I guess. So with Veeru. the situation. It does help when you have a guy at the other end who knows your game well and sometimes can just point out a few things. as you would expect.

of course not. Even with the meditation stuff. you want that to be the template. on and off and when I felt like it. some basic form of meditation. I did visualisation sometimes. and I felt in a good. but I just found that it was a great way to relax and switch off. like I’d practised hard enough. sometimes you didn’t. took my time doing things. not out-of-body experiences or anything. 5. But I’d like to believe I got most things done. That might be true for a No. even in 2000 there were good attacks. you had to be flexible about practices. 4 can afford to . What kind of routines did you have when you prepared for games? Were they different for Tests and ODIs? They were just a few basic things. I never always reached it. You had to be flexible. Though I always believed I had the ability to look at the positive side of a lot of things. Even in the most difficult situations. 6 have a little more breathing space. To be fair. Or being too stressed or tense about what might happen. Sometimes you got good facilities. It is not that every time I cracked it I’d be in the same perfect state of mind. You have to sometimes go in when the ball is new. as I became better at it. I would always look ahead. If an opening partnership develops. I would get more anxious about what might happen – what’s next. I think I was more anxious about the future rather than worrying about the past. I did it a couple of times at 18-19. not all the time. 3 in international cricket these days? Do you believe a decade of batsmanship is now going to be followed by the age of the bowlers? I felt that. You look at any attack that had McGrath. Because once you’ve experienced it. physically I’d done what I needed to do. 3 but the Nos. I tried to give myself the best chance. it wasn’t too much. The constant process is to always try to sort of reach that. What is the biggest challenge of being a No. especially when I was a youngster. Gillespie – that was a good attack. a No. And I’ve experimented with a few things. I wanted to feel ready. then you get there or thereabouts at most times. how will I cope with it? So I think things like meditation and just being calm and relaxed definitely did help me come through that. I just wanted to feel comfortable. I don’t know if the challenges for the No. I was just drawn to it. I’d done the preparation. calm space where I was eager to perform without being too anxious. you were more relaxed in the morning leading into the game. so lots of times you’re playing the new ball really. 3 have been any different. One of the things was that I didn’t like to get rushed on the morning of a game. Mentally again. It’s very difficult to do always. so you’ve been waiting a while. in terms of my preparation leading into a game. They can wait a little for the first wicket to fall before they know that they might need to go in early. But as long as you are trying to achieve that or striving to achieve that. But again. It’s also a position where sometimes the openers might have a good partnership. It’s almost a state of readiness you have to be in because you might have to go in in the first over or you might not go in for a long time. it was very seldom that I would get down on myself and keep moping. It started off with trying to do some relaxation. When I went into a Test match. I didn’t need to do it every time. which is part of the challenge. If you got enough sleep. I would worry a lot and was quite a shy young kid in some ways. and seen that. I’d hit enough balls. just eased into things. So I got up a lot earlier. to just calm myself down in some ways.But you did take to meditation itself as a tool for preparation? I took to it quite young. You couldn’t say this was the only thing that I did and I didn’t do anything else. I think I got better with age. Which is all I tried to do. 4. Lee. I was a bit of an anxious teenager.

Whether it’s saving a Test match. having the ability to play all sorts of roles. That’s just how we are. 3 will go in and I can have a little time to switch on and get ready. Quality batsmanship is having a range to be able to do all things in all conditions consistently over a period of time. It’s not necessarily that you need to play defensive. Then you should be able to do that as well. which is good. 3 doesn’t have that. Some are more pleasing to the eye and some are less pleasing to the eye. it’s the morning of a Test match. whether it’s when the second new ball is to be taken and there’s going to be a good spell. and that’s the gift of timing. and it does sometimes compromise your defensive technique. but in terms of our value to the team. did you almost feel that you belonged to another time and another environment? How did you cope with that? . The flip side of the coin is that there might be times the team might need you to play positively and want you to play some shots and set up the game. is important. You can really see in Test cricket – the successful guys are problem-solvers. That’s the nature of how we play. You deciding to play in one particular way all the time. the pace of Test cricket itself – fewer draws? Fewer draws is a good thing because people are playing more shots. You don’t need certain skills or to play certain kinds of bowling. Quality batsmanship is not only playing great shots or only leaving good balls. because of the place where you bat. In that sense. It does. But I don’t think that has been different for any generation. That’s why Test cricket is the greatest form of the game. tight cricket all through the Test match. 6 all your life and you could be fine. There are risks when you do that and you have to weigh the risks and play the shots. Sometimes in the first session of a Test match or with the second new ball. but also sometimes there are times when you need to have the ability to see off difficult periods. and sometimes I feel that this ability to see out a tough period and grind out a tough period is something that you might lose the ability to do. whether that’s defensive or it’s positive. 6. Whereas in one-day and T20. they want to score quicker. Has the definition of quality batsmanship changed over the course of your career? Are there just fewer people able to meet that description? Quality batsmanship for me is being able to play according to the situation. to have the game to be able to do that. because even a No. That’s something you can’t teach. but you can’t do that in Test cricket. you can get away. You could be a No. There’s no doubt that people want to play shots. You could make a successful career of it. Sometimes the team might need you to grind it out and you should have the skills and the ability to do that and you should take pride in learning those skills and wanting to do that if you don’t have them. the No. but you should also have the ability to recognise moments in a Test match when it needs to be done. Being able to recognise those moments and being able to adapt and play your game. because it throws up different challenges at different times. when ODI cricket began to grow. Test cricket is a bit more of a thorough examination of your skills. in certain times. is not necessarily in the best interests of the team. Given your style of batting. it’s incredibly important that you explore the range of your skills and all the skills required to succeed in Test cricket. would be forced or challenged to play good-quality quick bowling. It works both ways. if batsmen are not careful.relax and settle down and switch off a little bit because he knows that even if a wicket falls. Is not the game itself changing. who would have found a way or skills to find solutions necessary to succeed in all these situations. It makes for a more exciting brand of cricket when people see wickets fall and runs being scored. and you know it’s a trade-off. the No.

I did belong to another generation. When I grew up playing cricket, it was all about playing Test
cricket. It was all about being a great Test player. In those days the teams were picked for Test cricket,
for Test matches, and the same team played the one-dayers. The one-dayers were almost a
preparation. Even when we went to England in 1996, I remember the same Test team played the onedayers. They were played beforehand. The senior guys almost saw the one-dayers as preparation for
the Test matches. That’s how it was considered as late as ‘95-‘96. But you could sense ODIs were
slowly coming.
Then, as I started playing, the one-day thing exploded. I had to adapt and I had to learn how to play a
few more shots. I got dropped from the one-day side, I had to fight my way back and learn how to
play it. You could see from the way people were playing the first 10-15 overs of the one-day game
that a lot of this was going to seep into Test cricket. You are seeing that now in T20 cricket also. That
1996 World Cup helped one-day cricket take off in a lot of ways. In India and across the world.
Did coping with the demands of ODI cricket benefit your Test game?
I’m sure it did. The necessity and keenness to play more shots, to discover more shots, would
definitely have helped my Test game, because it would have meant that I could have brought some of
that into my game. In terms of shot-making and stroke-making ability, it did help my Test game.
Did you ever worry about being left out in this changing environment?
In 1998, when I was dropped, it did worry me a bit. But I also recognised that I needed to learn
certain skills. The game was changing around me and I needed to adapt and become better at it. I
wanted to play both forms of the game. At no stage did I ever think that I didn’t want to play one-day
cricket, that I’d be happy playing just Test cricket. I never wanted to do that. I wanted to play for India
all the time. I knew that I had the skills to play one-day cricket. I knew that I could do it. Obviously it
took me a little time. I had to practise it a little more, and I went through some ups and downs. I didn’t
expect to be dropped at that stage. It was disappointing. It takes time to learn and grow in international
cricket, and I felt that I was just learning and beginning to grow and I had that setback. But I think
when I look back on it – it doesn’t make any difference now – when you look back at it 15 years later,
it’s easier to say it did help me.
Being dropped took me away from the game, allowed me to practise, and I just fought my way
back. Being dropped and fighting my way back just showed me how much I wanted it. It just showed
me my own desire. It did a lot for me just personally, taught me that I can fight my way back out of
tough situations.
The 1999 World Cup was a watershed. I had just come back to the team for the World Cup. There
was not a lot of one-day cricket, and I got into the side four-five months before the World Cup. So to
do well in the World Cup and become the highest scorer or whatever, that sort of gave me the
confidence. This was a world event, a world stage, conditions outside India. I did well and it gave me
the confidence that from there on I could be fine.
How has the Indian dressing room changed from the time you walked into it and as you leave it
Dressing rooms are dressing rooms. But when we started we didn’t have a music box in the room. So
now it’s gone from no music box to loud music being played. I like the music. Sometimes the taste of
some of the guys in music, I might not particularly like. But you have to endure it sometimes. Rap
music is not my scene but it seems to be pretty popular nowadays. There’s a lot more support staff
now in the changing room than we had in those days. There is a level of professionalism that has

gone up in the way people prepare and in the way they look after themselves and their bodies. That’s
just a reflection of the game, professionalism in the game.
You’ve played against many of the greats of the game and shared a dressing room with some of
them as well. Over and above ability, what would you say is the common denominator that can
actually be imitated?
They always put cricket first, irrespective of who they were, what they might have done, what their
other interests might have been. Cricket was the most important thing in their lives and doing well in
cricket was the most important thing. Everything else was secondary – the fame, the money, the
attention. Each one of us might have done things differently, we have other interests, but underneath,
deep down, there was a huge desire to put cricket first and to become good cricketers. When I look
around, some of the legends I played with, in a world where there is so much external stimulus – and
it’s increasing all the time – it’s not that they didn’t have other interests or do anything else in their
life and that cricket was everything, no. But at the core of it all, when everything was cleared away,
deep down they wanted to be really good cricket players. It wasn’t necessarily about winning and
What advice would you give a Rahul Dravid if he was starting his cricket now, in this age?
I would definitely tell a young kid that you can learn all the three forms of the game and you should
aim to play and succeed in all three forms of the game. I would tell a kid that cricket is also a journey
of self-discovery and knowing yourself. You need to spend a lot of time understanding and figuring
out yourself as much as you need to spend learning the skills of the game. People talk about the
mental side of the game. You need to know what makes you tick, what your fears are, what your
doubts are, how you react in situations, how you react under pressure, how you react when you are
playing fast bowling and spin bowling. Each one of us is different, and everyone has fears and doubts.
Much is said about body language, and neither you nor the Indian team was big on body
language. In your experience, how much did that count in a competitor?
I feel that now good body language is sometimes equated to being abusive or aggressive. Each of us
is different, and I think there are people who show more of their body language in a particular
manner, and that’s what works for them. Fair enough, I’m not saying that that’s wrong.
Body language can mean different things. Just because someone is not over-the-top competitive
doesn’t mean he’s not a good competitor. Or it doesn’t mean he’s not in for a fight. There are external
people and internal people. It doesn’t mean that people who are more internal are less aggressive.
They can be as aggressive.
Sometimes the toughest bowlers, I found, were always the guys who gave away nothing, in terms of
the way they thought – what got them angry, what got them frustrated. They were very, very hard
guys, because you knew they were just focused on bowling and doing the best they could. Someone
like McGrath, someone like Ambrose. When I played Ambrose, it was a great education for me. He
never said a thing. I’ve never heard him speak. I don’t know what he sounded like and I was on tour
for four months. He gave you nothing. He pitched every ball on the spot, he was proud of his skill and
his craft; he wanted to take wickets and he ran in with intensity.
You knew that intensity. You could sense that intensity with them. They did it throughout the day
without showing you much. There were a lot of guys who would shout, stare at you, swear. But you
knew they did not have the stamina or the fitness to survive till the end of the day. You could tell that
they were emotionally violent but that they would fade.

Then there were people like Warne or Murali. Warne was dramatic but he was also incredibly
aggressive. You knew that when he got the ball in the hand, he was going to come at you. I judge
aggression on the way people perform.
The bowlers I respected or feared or rated were not the ones who gave me lip or stared at me or
abused me. More the ones who, at any stage of the game, when they had the ball in hand, were going
to be at me, and they were going to have the skill and the fitness and the ability to be aggressive.
And that was easily picked up?
You could tell that very quickly. You can see the spell of a guy who’s just raved and ranted, and after
tea you can see he’s just not the same bowler. He’s not doing the discipline thing. The team might
require him to be bowling one line and blocking up the game because there’s a big partnership
developing. And they are more interested in trying to be aggressive, to do their thing and trying to be
the hero. It becomes about them, not about what the team is trying to do.
Coming from a country like India, with a technique attuned to playing spin, what was it like
tackling Murali and Warne. What were the methods you used to face them?
No matter how much practice you have, these guys were great bowlers. They had variation,
consistency, control. There were some great spinners during that time – Murali, Warne, and I was
lucky to play with Anil and Harbhajan, two guys who bowled well for us. You had Saqlain, who
bowled well against us in a couple of series. Daniel Vettori was extremely consistent, bowled good
tight lines. So these guys were good. I like to believe we played some of the world’s greatest spinners
better than some of the other teams did.
One of the things is that because we had so much practice, maybe we read some of these guys better.
One of the things we did better was that whenever a bad ball was bowled, we were able to punish it,
and we had the guys who had that skill. There was a certain amount of pressure on the spinners
bowling at us, that they had to be at their A game all the time. And when they were at their A game,
they knocked us over a few times, no doubt about it. But you had to be at your A game to do well
against us, and you can’t be at your A game all the time.
What do you make of the general notion that struggling against fast bowling is worse than
struggling against spin?
I think that sort of thing is a throwback to the days when there was no helmet, so there was a fear of
injury when facing fast bowling. Everyone would have been scared, but I guess those who showed it
were considered weaker. Also, I think subcontinent tours in the old days were not considered the No. 1
tours – people didn’t necessarily value their tours to the subcontinent as much as they valued tours to
England, Australia or South Africa. That has changed now, and it’s pretty obvious that with the kind of
audience and support that cricket generates in this part of the world, a tour to this part of the world is
extremely important now.
Honestly, if you want to be a good batsman you have to prove yourself in all conditions. To say that
it is okay to do badly in the subcontinent, to do badly against spin, is not acceptable anymore. It’s
slowly changing. When I look at the media in England, Australia, South Africa, in the past sometimes
they would almost have a casual attitude to performances on subcontinent tours. They are also putting
a lot more focus and emphasis on it now. When some of their players don’t do well on the
subcontinental tours, they get criticised and it gets pointed out and questioned, which is a good thing.
Your captaincy had some good results and at the same time many dramas. What, firstly, did you
like about job?

and maybe some of the results didn’t show up right away. So I guess it clouds a lot of what happened. I also knew that me and Sourav were also of the same age and it might not happen. Sure. so yes. Did the Chappell drama weigh you down as a captain? When you look at it now. Do you think that captains can actually lose teams. I was extremely keen and excited about trying to do a good job of it. you’re contributing. sure. trying to be creative. and maybe there was a period on that England trip where I just lost the joy of the job. But I think there were some good results and there were some tough times. like with a lot of captains. I’m not here to justify anything. they did show up later on. The actual captaincy side of things was good. I don’t know if you lose the team. Obviously that World Cup didn’t go well and didn’t pan out the way I had hoped it would. You can lose players in your team and you have to try to fight and get them back sometimes. so you know you have to be ready. Those are sides of captaincy you enjoy. if results don’t go your way then sometimes it becomes easy for people in and around the system to. in the way that I approached it and handled it. I enjoyed being part of the process of trying to build a team. You’re part of the management and decision-making process. there were things that we did right. to see how we could get the best out of players. we made mistakes. but that’s just the way it is. Why did you stand down from the captaincy after the England tour in 2007 that had gone well? Maybe I just lost the enjoyment of the job. I got a certain joy out of captaincy. I have no doubt in my mind that you know it was on the right path. results in big tournaments. And I think. see how we could win and compete with the resources we have. especially as we’ve seen in India. and that at one point you lost the team? Maybe it is. I guess. I got too tense. there are things you could have done differently. At a time like that. I recognise that I always knew that was going to happen. Being probably a little less intense. In the end you have to accept that you are judged a lot by the World Cup in India. should you have done something differently? Maybe behaved out of personality and been confrontational with him? Or did you believe you and Chappell were on the same page but the environment soured very quickly? I think when you look back at any stage of your career. Then there are times when you are making tough decisions about doing certain things that not everybody in the team likes. Eventually it does become about results. Then you need results to go your way. It’s not all about results but results are incredibly important. Maybe it came to me that I was so keen to do a good job that I got too caught up in it. I’d been playing and captaining nonstop for three years and I also had a young family. but the overriding impression that tends to stay is that World Cup. too anxious or too keen about it in some ways. and that captaincy period is no different. That’s the way it is.I enjoyed the decision-making process in the middle. When it did happen. I’ll be the first one to admit – and my whole career is based on looking to improve and trying to do better – that there were times when I could have done things differently. Or sometimes it’s phases that players are themselves going through in their own careers that push them away from the team. whether you like it not. you’re ticking all the time. and I generally felt that the captain of India should be someone who is extremely eager and excited and wakes up every . pull in different directions. of what we were trying to achieve. I lost a certain enjoyment. Was captaincy something you were actually looking forward to doing? I was vice-captain for a long time and I was part of the process. In terms of intention. There were some good results. I knew that if there was an injury or something happened. I would be the next guy in charge.

Everyone will have to play their part. When you quit the captaincy. playing Test cricket was the ultimate. I have no doubt that a lot of the kids playing today in the one-day and Test sides have grown up having Test cricketers to admire. you called your team-mates and spoke to them before making the announcement. What is your response to the impact of T20 cricket on Indian cricket? The reality is that when I grew up. and the context of Test matches.morning wanting to captain the team. It mattered professionally. I have no doubt that if you play enough Test matches. If they face stumbles or hurdles early in their Test career or in first-class cricket. how they inspire them about Test cricket. It is one of the great positives of T20 and the IPL. glorify its history. but now it has spread a lot more and you have a lot more people who make a very good living. in as much as there have been fears. What was that about? When I look at it in hindsight. People might not come to the grounds that easily. in India as much as elsewhere. When you retired. and that’s why it’s important to explore other avenues – whether it is day-night cricket. which does become important at some point. You’ve got to compensate Test cricketers adequately now. So you learn from that. It will come down to compensation. Maybe in that time there were days that I didn’t feel like that. also in terms of making a living from this game. It’ll come down to coaches at junior levels. kids will want to play it. In the last few years. India will face this challenge a lot more because a lot more Indian players play in the IPL. You had to play Test cricket consistently for a long time to do that. I could have handled it better. you just vanished. In the past you had only the cream at the top who were making a good living. It’ll come down to marketing – how you market Test cricket. the number of people who follow it passionately. there might be a few who may choose to stick to T20 because they are better at it and they are making better money from it and they don’t want to risk losing that. In this T20 age. We have to schedule more Test matches per year. the venues where we play it. how must India handle the passing of a great generation of its Test players? . It’s a good thing for kids to see that you can succeed in all three forms of the game. who are now getting interested in the game for the first time and are seeing the IPL. who talk to me about Test cricket – that hasn’t changed. There have been some good examples recently of people who have been good players in T20 and have come out and done well in Test cricket. But now you don’t need to play Test cricket. People follow Test cricket. The advent of T20 and the IPL has meant that it is possible to make an extremely good living from the game without having to play Test cricket. That’s important. It’ll be about stories. But it’s kids who are my children’s age or a little older. The responsibility lies with the ICC and the boards to schedule enough Test matches. We have to accept that people don’t have the time. whether it’s on television or the internet. it’ll be about media. They might have to make a few sacrifices in terms of money. But there is obviously the danger that players might sell themselves short. how they talk to their wards. and I think a lot of people got upset with me more about how I handled it rather than the decision in itself. it’s those kinds of children that we need to educate and talk to about Test cricket. but there is still huge interest for Test cricket. you learn from the mistakes. the number of the articles that get written about Test cricket. I didn’t want to make a fuss about it at that stage. So how we address that challenge and go out and make people and players value Test cricket – that will come down to scheduling.

of how the team is going to project itself. On how he deals with failure. I’m not saying the seniors need to be replaced. is able to have a long and successful career. He didn’t have a really good first year at the Royal Challengers Bangalore. are already seniors. And he’s got to keep doing that. and will continue to do so over the next few years. but you could see that there was talent. Guys like Sehwag. You might get lucky. on the physical front. of thought. that is required. Questions are going to be asked about him. Some of these are challenges that have always been there in the history of our game – whether it is finding good quality fast-bowling allrounders or finding opening batsmen or finding real fast bowlers. Not only as players but also as spokesmen. who knows? But after that there are going to be guys who are going to be around. the image they want to project of the team. there is always a middle level of management – players who have been around and are still going to be around for a few years. They will be the sounding boards. Two or three guys might retire in the next couple of years. I think. The strength of your team is finally built around people who can have long and successful careers. competitive team in ODI cricket rather than a successful Test team? Or that all of this depends on ensuring that your fast bowlers’ conveyor belt doesn’t go around so quickly? I wouldn’t say I’m worried. Indian cricket can hope that someone like Virat. regarding which form of the game is important to this team. I know there are always links between one generation of players and the others. That’s not going to change. but there needs to be serious thought put into the . You can then build a team around him and some of the other young guys. There are lots of positives about Indian cricket. He’s got the talent to succeed at this level and it’s great to see the evolution of this kid. 3 slot? He’s got the talent – that was obvious from the time he was an Under-19 kid. which is already happening slowly. and how he comes up with solutions or answers is going to decide how long or how successful a career he is going to have. and it’s no point worrying. they will happen. from what we saw at 19 to what he’s becoming now. Do you worry about where Indian cricket is at the moment – that it is going to be a very good. You can’t just let things flow. with all that happens around him in Indian cricket. It will be a group of players.How can the transition be made smooth? At some stage there is going to be a whole new generation of players. His consistency of performance and his ability to play in different conditions and score runs in different conditions – that’s great. a whole new level of leadership. who will set the tone for the next generation coming through. As with any career and anything that you play for a long time. Like I said. you might suddenly find a brilliant player or a brilliant fast-bowling allrounder from somewhere. with success. who. and the responsibility is going to lie on these guys to step it up. Gambhir. Do you see him as your successor in the No. I would say there are challenges that Indian cricket faces today. on the mental front. Virat Kohli is now seen as the leader of the younger generation. As people who decide the culture of the team. Zaheer. the way the team is run. It’s got to move on from being the team that was led by my generation. that cycle will go on. But the direction and the culture of the team over the next ten years will have to be decided by this capable group of young players. Harbhajan. who has seemingly made that transition from a precocious talent to a performer at the international level. On the technical front. questions are going to be asked of him. Dhoni himself. It’s going to be a whole new level of thinking. These challenges have to be addressed. That cycle goes on. If we just let things happen.

what is the way forward. We were always known as poor travellers. it was important for me how the team was projected. now there is another challenge. Maybe this team now has the image where it’s said they are very good one-day players. how everyone will only want to play IPL. and how it might affect our Test cricket. to show us that it is not the case. they are not that good as Test players. You keep hearing talk about what impact the IPL might have. It was said we were scared of fast bowling. we were arrogant.way the team is. and how we want to see the Indian team. Ten years later. When we got together as a group of guys in 2000. Hopefully these guys will go on to challenge that notion. or that because of match-fixing you can’t trust anyone. where this interview was first published on March 29. rude. Sharda Ugra is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo. Each team has its own image. These were the things that you wanted to change. not today but ten years ahead. We were going through a rough patch. that’s what you want to change. 2012 . we had come out of this match-fixing thing.

in the battle for Singapore. But seriously. which was to be his last season at home. I realise a very distinguished list of gentlemen have preceded me in the ten years that the Bradman Oration has been held. in the Syria-Lebanon campaign. their lives left incomplete. however. we remember the unknown soldiers of both nations. futures extinguished. I know that this Oration is held every year to appreciate the life and career of Sir Don Bradman. meticulous and memorable. That cricket is our single common denominator. to measures against corruption in cricket. in Burma. over 1300 Indians also lost their lives. “fight” are used to describe cricket matches. an Indian. battle. Yet the histories of our countries are linked together far more deeply than we think. In World War II. that was in the first India-Australia series in 1947-48. touching on issues from striking a balance between the three formats. to persist and compete as intensely as we can – and more. His speech was wide-ranging. before all else. This building. and remains the most venerated cricketer in India not to have played there. We know that he set foot in India. I must say that I find myself humbled by the venue we find ourselves in. incongruous that I. happen to be the first cricketer from outside Australia invited to deliver the Bradman Oration. The people of both our countries are often told that cricket is the one thing that brings Indians and Australians together. there were Indian and Australian soldiers in El Alamein. When I was told that I would be speaking at the National War Memorial I thought of how often and how meaninglessly the words “war”. Indians and Australians were comrades. I understand that I am supposed to speak about cricket and issues in the game – and I will. fight – for real and then gave it all up for their country. however. where along with celebrating cricket and cricketers. on the same side. as a cricketer I feel I stand on very sacred ground tonight.[ 28 ] ‘Everything that has given cricket its power has started from the fan’ RAHUL DRAVID In December 2011. Sir Don played just five Tests against India. North Africa. Yes. He didn’t even play in India. Before they played the first Test match against each other. Indians and Australians fought wars together. in November 1947. we cricketers devote the better part of our adult lives to being prepared to perform for our countries. where. The respect and the regard that came T with the invitation to speak tonight are deeply appreciated. I don’t say that only because Sir Don once scored a hundred before lunch at Lord’s and my hundred at Lord’s this year took almost an entire day. “battle”. Even though there is neither a pitch in sight. In Gallipoli. India’s first Test series as a free country was played against Australia. recognises the men and women who lived out the words – war. . hank you for inviting me to deliver the Bradman Oration. We share something else other than cricket. though. along with thousands of Australians. Yet first. a great Australian and a great cricketer. So it is only appropriate that we are here this evening at the Australian War Memorial. and further back in time than 1947. It is. three months after our independence. Before we were competitors. nor stumps or bat and balls. Rahul Dravid was invited to deliver the Bradman Oration in Canberra during India’s tour to Australia.

some old video footage and his wise words. In the ‘30s. For one generation of fans in my country. To a country taking its first steps in Test cricket that meant something. in front of all of you – I am actually pleased that I share something very important with Sir Don. There were said to be close to a thousand people waiting to greet him. who was both nationalist and cricket fan and later became independent India’s foremost cricket writer. June 28. but as journalists sometimes tell me. when India was still under British rule. As you know. There’s another story I’ve heard. and so he got into an army jeep and rushed into a barricaded building. There are two stories that I thought I should bring to your notice. then a selector. those who grew up in the 1930s. We’re the ones who make life easier for the kings of batting. He was. His success against England at that time was thought of as our personal success. and for KN Prabhu he became a kind of avenging angel. Not to an . He dominated bowling attacks and put bums on seats. as Bradman. if black bands were ever worn. primarily. he was a very private person. his plane stopped in Calcutta airport. if I bat for any length of time I am more likely to bore people to sleep. He was striking one for all of us ruled by the common enemy. there’s a tale that a few even wanted to wear black bands to mourn the fact that this precious record that belonged to Australia – and by extension. I do know that Bradman watched Sunil Gavaskar ’s generation play a series in Australia. about the day in 1933 when the news reached India that Bradman’s record for the highest Test score of 334 had been broken by Wally Hammond. Now. they say some Indian fans at the time were not exactly happy. a No. We will never know if this is true. Still. About leaving the game better than you found it. I remember the excitement that went through Indian cricket when we heard the news that Bradman had seen Sachin Tendulkar bat on TV and thought he batted like him. That was all Indians of the time saw of Bradman. who remains a mythical figure. The coincidence of the two events was noted by a young boy. the middle order that follows us. the day Bradman scored 254 at Lord’s against England. it is nice to have batted for a long time in a position whose benchmark is. While there may be very little similarity in our records or our strike rates or our fielding – and I can say this only today. KN Prabhu. 3 batsman. Nehru May 1953. was also the day Jawaharlal Nehru was arrested by the police. like me. as Nehru went in and out of jail. As much as we love our records. told Richie Benaud before the 1960-61 West Indies tour of Australia. the Poms. annoyed with the airline for having “breached confidentiality”. Of players being temporary trustees of a great game. and later. when on his way to England to report on the Ashes for an English newspaper. About playing it positively. in fact. It is a tough. the benchmark for batsmanship itself. My own link with Bradman was much like that of most other Indians – through history books. Or as your country has so poetically called them. 1930. Of sending the right message out from cricket to its public. Bradman went after the England bowling. tough job. It was more than mere approval. one of the most prominent leaders of the Indian independence movement. To an Englishman. Bradman did that with a bit more success and style than I did. it was as if the great Don had finally passed on his torch. why let facts get in the way of a good story. Bradman represented a cricketing excellence that belonged to somewhere outside England. us – had gone back. independent India’s first prime minister. Before he retired from public life in his 80s. at the time.

and we often extended them. 2001. Whenever an important figure in cricket leaves us. Maybe those words should be put up in cricket dressing rooms all over the world. made us. As others floundered against them. But I think both sides have moved on from there. If both teams look back to their 2007-08 series in Australia. The Australians were near unbeatable in the first half of the new decade. with courage and modesty. And even Shane Warne likes India now. As individuals. the Indian team. One of the things Bradman said has stayed in my mind. That the finest of athletes had. walking? But as ties between India and Australia have strengthened and our contests have become more frequent. It is a series. with integrity. All this. It is often said that cricketers are ambassadors for their country. grow and rise. it seems he is not eating anything. He received warm standing ovations from wonderful crowds all around the country. The quality demanded of those contests. say. we realise that as Indian players we stand for a vast. Mike Hussey’s role with Chennai. sometimes acrimonious. looking at him. The series that followed two days after Bradman’s death later went on to become what many believe was one of the greatest in cricket. In fact. when there’s a match to be won. India became the only team that competed with them on even terms. to mention a few. . like a few creaking Terminators.Aussie or an Englishman or a West Indian. improved. A fierce contest between bat and ball went down to the final session of the final day of the final Test. I really enjoyed playing alongside him at Rajasthan last season and can confidently report to you that he is not eating imported baked beans anymore. Don Bradman passed away on February 25. Thanks to the IPL. The 2001 series contained high-quality cricket from both sides and had a deep impact on the careers of those who played a part in it. what would career diplomats do if the result of a Test series depended on them. we were asked to play to the absolute outer limits of our capabilities. cricket’s global community pauses in the midst of contests and debates to remember what he represented. they will know that they should have done things a little differently in the Sydney Test. along with skill. But to one of our own. I hope. two days before the India v Australia series was to begin in Mumbai. Older. ambition. was totally compatible with pride. determination and competitiveness. we’ve played each other twice in India already and relations between the two teams are much better than they have been as far as I can remember. and Bradman was the pinnacle. Indians and Australians have even shared dressing rooms. we’re back. Shane Watson’s involvement in Rajasthan. often unfathomable and endlessly fascinating country. wiser and. When we toured in 2007-08. what he stood for. The standard against which all Test batsmen must take guard. he would have enjoyed following. After all. sometimes uplifting. are greatly appreciated back home. Between an Australian team that had risen to their most imposing powers and a young Indian team determined to rewrite some chapters of its own history. varied. The Australians thought it was going to be the last time they would be seeing Sachin Tendulkar on their shores. India kept answering questions put to them by the Australians and asking a few themselves. a few more essential qualities: the ability to conduct their life with dignity. Well. he believed. As all of you know. sometimes we think that is an unreasonable demand. both home and away. I’d like to believe. I thought it was going to be my last tour of Australia.

Most foreign captains. in the deep south. one from the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh – he spoke only Hindi. belong to all classes of society. it is important for me to bring Indian cricket and its own remarkable story to you. Cricket is so much a part of our national fabric that as India – its economy. Yes. When I look back over the 25 years I’ve spent in cricket. In a world growing more insular. that aspect of Indian cricket is a part of the whole. the country we come from – of people from vastly different cultures. Now even that should have been okay as they were both bowlers and wouldn’t really need to talk to each other much on the field. ahead even of English. mentors and team-mates who made them international cricketers. so did our most-loved sport.At the moment. I went around our dressing room to work out how many languages could be spoken in there and the number I have arrived at is: 15. effort and sacrifice from hundreds of people that runs through our game. society and popular culture – transformed itself. because it stays for life and helps you understand people better. wondering how they were going to manage the business of a partnership. coaches. image. eventually. as a proud and privileged member of the Indian cricket team. living entity going through a most remarkable time. more than ever before. to accept. It should have been all right. First. that I am the oldest man in the team. As a player. understand the significance of the other. not in the news you hear about milliondollar deals and television rights. In this last decade. but it is not the complete picture. but we are . like no other in our cricketing history. We had two bowlers in the team. This could only happen in Indian cricket. More importantly. would baulk at the idea. Let me tell you one of my favourite stories from my Under-19 days. because ours is. As players we are appreciative beneficiaries of the financial strength of Indian cricket. teachers. I cannot take all of you into the towns and villages our players come from and introduce you to their families. when the India U-19 team played a match against the New Zealand junior team. that is a precious quality to acquire. I realise two things. In India. Their common language was cricket and that worked out just fine. In the dressing room we were in splits. The everyday richness of Indian cricket lies right there. I want to say that this onedimensional. I think. I realise that Indian cricket actually reflects our country’s own growth story during this time. I marvelled at the range of difference and the ability of people from so many different backgrounds to share a dressing room. try to understand each other and the different role cricket plays in different countries. by three months. I believe it is very necessary that cricketing nations try to find out about each other. and he spoke only the state’s regional language. a very small world. I enjoyed it. accommodate and respect that difference. Yet in one game they happened to come together at the crease. As I stand here today. except the other bowler came from Kerala. struggle. and they were batting together. to much of the outside world. Except that these two guys came up with a 100-run partnership. But when I led India. rather alarmingly. which is usually a link language for players from all over India. Malayalam. Neither man could understand a word of what the other was saying. relentlessly repeated. follow different religions. calling for runs or sharing the strike. the Indian team represents. I cannot take all of you here to India to show you the belief. is not what Indian cricket is really all about. Indian cricket represents only two things – money and power. older to even Sachin. cricket is a buzzing. who speak different languages. including Shona and Afrikaans. often clichéd. humming.

the ground covered by Indian cricket has shifted. I must point out. the road from the nearest railway station to his village had to be improved because journalists and TV crews from the cities kept landing up there. fortresses and tourism. a state best known for its palaces. As the earnings from Indian cricket have grown in the past two decades. He could have been an instrumentation engineer but was drawn to cricket by TV. He had to be enrolled in a college which had a good cricket programme and travelled 84km every day by bus to get to practice and matches. Every player in this room wearing an India blazer has a story like this. Delhi – has begun to pull in cricketers from everywhere. despite what some of you may have heard. out of nowhere. is the heart and soul of Indian cricket. The game has given us a chance to pay back our debt to all those who gave their time. And at home. Virender Sehwag. The national one-day championship also had a first-time winner in the newly formed state of Jharkhand. . we don’t live in mansions with swimming pools. After Munaf Patel made his debut for India. Let me tell you what television has done to our game. the Indian team has an enormous emotional following. treated like a cross between royalty and rock stars. mainly through television. our cricket is full of stories the outside world does not see. a stream of Indian cricketers now comes from what you could call India’s outback. On tour. where our captain. The growth and scale of cricket on our televisions was the engine of this population shift. it shouldn’t surprise you. Twenty-seven teams compete in our national championship. The caricature often made of Indian cricket and its cricketers in the rest of the world is that we are pampered superstars – overpaid. Like Bradman was the boy from Bowral. Last season Rajasthan. Playing for India completely changes our lives. belongs to the wild west just outside Delhi. ladies and gentlemen. He is the first cricketer from the central Indian first-class team of Vidarbha to play Test cricket. We are delighted that Umesh Yadav didn’t become a policeman. A sport that was largely played and patronised by princes and businessmen in traditional urban centres – cities like Bombay. comes from. Television rights generated around Indian cricket are much talked about. and turned to cricket instead. from a town that didn’t have even one proper turf wicket. Bangalore. a boy from a village in Gujarat turned up as India’s fastest bowler. we don’t attack fans or do drugs or get into drunken theatrics. He first bowled with a proper cricket ball at the age of 17. get our siblings married off in style. underworked. It is also why we make it a point to always try to conduct ourselves with composure and dignity. Hyderabad.more than just mascots of that economic power. Zaheer Khan belongs to the Maharashtra heartland. Baroda. give our families very comfortable lives. energy and resources for us to be better cricketers: we can build new homes for our parents. Chennai. MS Dhoni. Here. The field is now spread wider than it ever has been. and we do need security when we go around the country as a group. but along with it. and modelled his bowling by practising in front of the mirror on his cupboard at home. the Ranji Trophy. Yes. The news about the money may well overpower all else. like he was planning. the BCCI has spread revenues to various pockets in the country and improved where we play. won the Ranji Trophy title for the first time in its history. One day.

When I started out. It takes time getting used to – extreme reactions can fill us with anger. We have been given some alerts. South Africa and England to determine which of us is the world’s strongest Test team. When people see the Indian bus going by. Cricket in India now stands not just for sport but possibility. it is a gift we have been given. in fact. Between then and now India have played 227 ODIs at home. for whatever reason. not only in India but all over the world. There is an instantaneous smile. “all of us have won”. means something to people’s lives. For those of us who make it to the Indian team. I was surprised a few months ago to see the lack of crowds in an ODI series featuring India. see some of us sitting with our curtains drawn back. and responding to them quickly is the smart thing to do. Without the game. As Indian cricketers. even at first-class level. for a young Indian. is now played by all of India. then their subordinates. A sport that was played first by princes. After India won the World Cup this year. In the summer of 1998 I played in a one-dayer against Kenya in Kolkata and the Eden Gardens was full. responses to victory and defeat extreme. But a cricketer? Loved everywhere. On our way to the Indian team. not the actions of a minority. No second chances for those without an education or a college degree. our players were not congratulated as much as they were thanked by people they ran into. India played their first one-day international at home in November 1981. cricket is not merely our livelihood. that. who missed out. some of whom may have been equally or more talented than those sitting here. we would just be average people leading average lives. our sport has given us the chance to do something worthwhile with our lives. and over the space of the next 12 months should be involved in a tight contest with Australia. The October series against England was the first one at home after India’s World Cup win.” they were told. Our next game was held in the 48-degree heat of Gwalior and the stands were heaving. But every cricketer realises at some stage of his career that the Indian cricket fan is best understood by remembering the sentiment of the majority. directed not just at the player they see but at the game we play. “You have given us everything. It is also a very tough environment to grow up in – criticism can be severe. or second careers. Even Indian cinema has its regional favourites. Indian cricket’s wealth now means a wider pool of well-paid cricketers. cricket was the ultimate gamble – all or nothing. There are invasions of privacy and stones have been thrown at our homes after some defeats. meant to wipe away the memory of a forgettable tour of England. We are the world champions in the short game. It was called the “revenge” series. India itself in microcosm. Win or lose. when I was nine. Cricket. no safety nets. it always amazes me how much they light up. as my two U-19 team-mates proved.The Indian cricket team is. the man on the street will smile and give you a wave. By that I don’t mean the lack of full houses. then the urban elite. we know of so many of our team-mates. Yet I believe this is also a time for introspection within our game. hope. One of the things that has always lifted me as a player is looking out of the team bus when we travel somewhere in India. the October five-match series against England was the first time that the grounds have not been full for an ODI series featuring the Indian team. How many people could say that? This is the time Indian cricket should be flowering. I think it was the sight of empty stands I found somewhat alarming. is India’s most widely spoken language. opportunities. a movie star in the south may not be popular in the north. India .

As players. Australia and South Africa played an exciting and thrilling Test series recently. it will be far easier to tackle the bigger dangers – whether it is finding shortcuts to easy money or being lured by the scourge of spot-fixing and contemplating any involvement with the betting industry. When I think about the Eden Gardens crowds this year. If we stand up for the game’s basic decencies. in front of what was the lowest turnout in Eden Gardens’ history. As players. with deals and finances in hand. but this time the matches were played in smaller venues that didn’t host too much international cricket. the bigger the occasion. but at the end of the day we are performers. I think. It is not the numbers that Test players need. but we do need to accept that there has definitely been a change in temperature over.000 people less watching us. its emotion. it’s the easy thing to say. The fans have stood by our game through everything. They deserve our respect and let us not take them for granted.kept winning every game and yet the stands did not fill up. but the matches were sadly played in front of sparse crowds. it is hard to see television rights around cricket being as sought-after as they have been in the last 15 years. Cricket’s financial success means it will face threats from outside the game and keep facing them. the grounds were full. The India v England ODI series had no context. that we get blindsided. The lack of crowds may not directly impact revenues or how important the sport is to Indians. its magnitude. A few weeks later I played in a Test match against West Indies in Kolkata. the balance between competitiveness and fairness can be tough but it must be found. The internet and modern technology may just end up being a step ahead of every anti-corruption regulation in place in the game. Bad television can lead to a fall in ratings. and two great Test matches produced some fantastic performances from players of both teams.000 turned up to watch India’s first Formula 1 race. mind space or crowd attendance at international matches. And where does that leave everyone? I’m not trying to be an economist or doomsday prophet – this is just how I see it. Maybe our clues are all there and we must remain vigilant. Indian cricket has never had to compete with other sports for a share of revenues. because the two countries had played each other in four Tests and five ODIs just a few weeks before. entertainers. If that happens. Five days after a 5-0 victory 95. Let us not be so satisfied with the present. The fall in ratings will be felt by media planners and advertisers looking elsewhere. The audience amplifies everything you are doing: the bigger the crowd. Whatever the reasons are – maybe it is too much cricket or too little by way of comfort for spectators – the fan has sent us a message and we must listen. My first reaction to the lack of crowds for cricket was that there had been a lot of cricket and so perhaps a certain amount of spectator fatigue. Disrespecting fans is disrespecting the game. we need to think of them. When India and West Indies played ODIs a month after that. the last two years. Yes we still wanted to win and our intensity did not dip. I wonder what the famous Calcutta Test of 2001 would have felt like with 50. When we play. and we love an audience. and it might not be the only thing. Empty stands do not make for good television. Everything that has given cricket its power and influence in the world of sports has started from that fan in the stadium. That is too simplistic a view. The last two decades have proved this over and over again. the . Unlike in Australia or England. it is the atmosphere of a Test that every player wants to revel in and draw energy from. This is not mere sentimentality.

If it means undergoing dope tests. one impacting on the other. Cricket must find a middle path. skills that have evolved. way we can stay ahead is if we are willing to be monitored and regulated closely. For that. We may not fill 65. Players should be ready to give up a little personal space and personal comfort for this game which has given us so much. I always wonder: what do their fans think? People may not be able to turn up to watch Test cricket. with every team and player driving themselves to be winners of a sought-after title. There may be some challenges in places where there is dew. In March of last year I played a day-night first-class game in Abu Dhabi for the MCC. but we must actively fight to get as many as we can in. seems like it would have a context to every game. let us never say no. But now we must treat it like we do airport security. There is a place for all three formats. we should not object to having our finances scrutinised.000 capacity stadiums for Test matches. T20 has come upon us and it is the format people. When the first anti-corruption measures were put into place. It is the form the players want to play. because we know it is for our own good and our own security. Where I come from. We now realise that the sport’s three formats cannot be played in equal numbers – that will only throw scheduling and the true development of players completely off gear. These three versions require different skills. you have nothing to fear. nation versus nation is what got people interested in cricket in the first place. but the visibility and durability of the pink cricket ball was not an issue. and we must take pride in belonging to a sport that is professional and progressive. but everyone follows the scores. Anything but the sight of Tests played on empty grounds. Now lie detectors are by no means perfect but they could actually help the innocent clear their names. I don’t think day-night Tests or a Test championship should be dismissed. want to see. we have got to play Test cricket that people can watch. to create a Test match environment that the players and the fans feed off. it is what the world’s best know they will be judged by. it must scale down this mad merry-go-round that teams and players find themselves in: heading off for two-Test tours and seven-match ODI series with a few T20s thrown in. If it means undergoing lie-detector tests. let us understand the technology. we did moan a little bit about being accredited and depositing our cell phones with the manager. Similarly. the fans. and my experience from that was that day-night Test cricket is an idea seriously worth exploring. is charting out a clear road map for the three formats. When I hear the news that a country is playing without some of its best players. One of the biggest challenges that the game must respond to today. Test cricket deserves to be protected. Even if it means giving up a little bit of freedom of movement and privacy. Keeping Tests alive may mean different innovations in different countries – maybe taking it to . Cricket must treasure this originality. what purpose it serves. changed over the last four decades. Similarly a Test championship. though we are the only sport I can think of which has three versions. if that is what is required. and accept it. Other sports have borrowed from cricket’s anti-corruption measures to set up their own ethical governance programmes. I believe. If you have nothing to hide. The 50-over game is the one that has kept cricket’s revenues alive for more than three decades now. Test cricket is the gold standard.

So I’ll reiterate what I’ve just said very quickly because balancing the three formats is important: We have Test cricket. I certainly know that the 50-over game helped us innovate strokes in our batting which we were then able to take into Test matches. It existed before modern air travel took off. Maybe it’s finally time to do something about it. . 1995. This would ensure that all 50-over matches would build up for those tournaments. I should probably complain about it the most! The crowd and revenue numbers. say. not just a ranking. What we have to do is find a way to ensure that Test matches fit into 21 -century life. as we know. like the Champions Trophy and the World Cups. That could also keep cricket viable in countries where it fights for space and attention. I remember my father taking a Friday off so that we could watch three days of Test cricket together. Where do we want it to be in the year 2020? Or. The T20 game. As much as cricket’s revenues are important to its growth. Anything makes more sense than seven-match ODI series. plan the ODI calendar and devise rankings around these few important events. In the four-year cycle between World Cups. even in our fast-moving world with its short attention spans. like the old Recreation Ground in Antigua. through timing. The 50-overs format focused around fewer. playing it in grounds with smaller capacities. On occasions he couldn’t. we must think way ahead of how it stands today. And playing for a championship or a cup. in 2027. which will make it financially attractive for cricketers. tell us that if we don’t handle T20 correctly. cricket has been with us longer than the modern motor car. people have been saying that there is too much meaningless one-day cricket. That will cut back the number of one-day internationals played every year. The best role for T20 is as a domestic competition through official leagues. We shouldn’t let either go because we played too much of one format and too little of the other. significant multi-nation ICC events like the Champions Trophy and the World Cup. nation versus nation. environments and the venues they are held in. but no one ever fell in love with Test cricket because they wanted to be a businessman. Since. I am still convinced it can be done. Not everything of value comes at a price. When I was around seven years old. like we have always had. we may well have more and more private players stepping in to offer not just slices of pie but maybe even bigger pies themselves. Because the game is bigger than us all. The future may well lie in playing one-day internationals centred around ICC events. I am not sure I agree with that. though.smaller cities. its traditions and its vibrancy are a necessary part of its progress in the future. We all know that the 50-over game has been responsible for improving fielding standards all over the world. I would accompany one of his friends. when it will be 150 years since the first Test match was played? If you think about it. I think. Given that an acceptable strike rate in T20 these days is about 120. like New Zealand has thought of doing. has as many critics as it has supporters in the public. We will often get told that Test matches don’t make financial sense. maybe reviving some old venues in the West Indies. just to soak in a day of Test cricket and watch the drama slowly unfold. st There is a proposal doing the rounds about scrapping the 50-over game completely. but carefully scheduled to attract crowds and planned fairly so that every Test-playing country gets its fair share of Tests. but at least those matches will have context.

even though you may often hear us whining about burnout. How it is played is as important for every member of every team. and the lack of recovery time. . scored your first century. I also want to talk briefly about an experience I have often had over the course of my career. of pure joy. Whenever a cricketer feels a whinge coming on. argument. even when there’s an epidemic of white-line fever breaking out all over the field. What we do as professionals is easily carried over into the amateur game. celebration. But it is not the only thing that matters when you play cricket. standing at slip or even at the non-striker ’s end. Taking it to practice or play. in every way – batting. took your first catch. appealing. Before I conclude. but it is a very precious instant. and after the game go back to work. of learning. As the game’s custodians. when you hit your first boundary.Professionalism has given cricketers of my generation privileged lives. travel. We can be remembered for being the generation that could take the giant stride. because every game we play leaves a footprint in cricket’s history. and yes. and it had better not annoy or anguish us 50-year-olds. I have sometimes found myself in the middle of a big game. At that moment. when you first began. It lasts for a very fleeting passage of time. Sachin told us that he had asked Sir Don how he had mentally prepared for big games. that would be good to remember. Sir Don said that well before a game he would go to work. bowling. dissent. Whenever we begin to get into that mindset. fielding. I believe. It is not to do with individuals or incidents but is one I believe is important to share. all that exists is the contest and the very real sense of the joy that comes from playing the game. but the trick. We must never forget that. winning matters. is taking the spirit of the amateur – of discovery. and every cricketer should hang on to it. In every cricketer there lies a competitor who hates losing. In the players of 2027 we will see a reflection of this time and of ourselves. what his routines were. it’s good to remember a piece of Sachin’s conversation with Bradman. where you reconnect with the game just like you did years ago. I know it is utterly fanciful to expect professional cricketers to play the game like amateurs. and we know it. and suddenly realised that everything else has vanished. of playing by the rules – into our profession. or were involved in a big victory. It is an almost meditative experience. it is important we are not tempted by the short-term gains of the backward step.

The numbers .

039 runs. no other batsman has touched 650 so far. Dravid is also the only batsman to be involved in more than 700 partnerships.When Dravid was at the crease. in fact.6% of the total runs that India made in the Tests in which Dravid played. which amounted to 35. the team scored 32. .

In 286 Test innings. and with the seventhhighest run aggregate. That dedication fetched him just rewards. when he scored heavily pretty much everywhere he went: in 16 series during this time. further confirmed his class. finishing eighth on the list of most ODIs played. and finished his Test career as the second-highest rungetter. For instance. His best phase. ensuring he scored runs in every country he played in. in the first ten series that he played (excluding one-off Tests). interspersed with its share of lows. scored 10. consistency was one of Dravid’s fortes. A slump followed. though. but even so. which remains the second-fastest by an Indian. his batting stats improved when he kept wicket. it was clear he was an exceptional batting talent. almost inevitably. he scored those runs in tough batting conditions.288 runs he did in Tests. and in overseas Tests that led to wins abroad. and struck 12 centuries and 83 fifties. from the middle of 2006 to 2008. and achieved the second-best win-loss record among Indians who captained in at least 50 ODIs. Dravid played 31. Apart from all that. and exciting to watch. he kept wicket in 73 ODIs. a phenomenon that till then had been pretty rare in Indian cricket. is no mean achievement. 889 runs. though. a sparkling 148 against a tough South African attack in Johannesburg. not many would have envisaged a career that spanned 164 Test matches. There were other batsmen who had more natural talent. Dravid never had the attacking ability of a Tendulkar or a Brian Lara. including one off 22 balls. next only to Sachin Tendulkar. His maiden Test century. it puts into perspective the sheer effort that went into scoring the 13.563. over a career that spanned fifteen and a half years. was the four-year period from the middle of 2002 to 2006. aggressive. Dravid in Tests From the time he scored 95 in his first Test innings. He also led India in 79 matches. against England at Lord’s. During this period his overseas average was an exceptional 77. when he struggled in South . but it’s a testament to his adaptability that he played 344 ODIs. or were more elegant. In terms of dedication to craft and working on achieving perfection. he averaged more than 40 in seven. For most of his career. More importantly. For any cricketer this is a staggering resume. For someone whose playing style was thought to be suited only to Test cricket.[ 29 ] The man they couldn’t move S RAJESH he stat that perhaps best sums up Rahul Dravid is not the number of runs or hundreds he made but T the number of balls he consumed – 46. and nine times over 75. he averaged more than 49 in 13. it borders on the unbelievable. Given that no other batsman has faced more than 29. Dravid ranks second to none.07. and yet never allowed that to adversely affect his batting – in fact. for one considered only a Test specialist. and from there it was a journey of several highs.000 deliveries in that format.258 balls. And then there was Dravid the one-day player.

but in his last three years he came out of that trough pretty well.03 Period At home overseas As mentioned above. In fact. Australia and Sri Lanka. Tendulkar won only five of his 14 Man-of-the-Match awards overseas.) As well as helping India win overseas. and in those games he scored 1577 runs at 65. However.06 3/7 31.20 Apr 2002-Jul 2006 49 4720 68. in overseas Test wins. in Australia. Rawalpindi (2004) and Kingston (2006). (Remember. inevitably again.66 Jan 2009 onwards 33 2779 52.40 14/22 55.19 10/17 Sachin Tendulkar 13 1219 60. He was among the runs in New Zealand. India won 15 Tests abroad during Dravid’s career (excluding matches in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe). In all.54 Career 164 13. though. perhaps the most significant aspect of Dravid’s Test career was that the runs he scored contributed significantly to India’s wins. that Dravid should quit Tests.70 4/7 32 3083 75.10 11/18 VVS Laxman 14 1111 52. averaging more than 75 in those matches. mainly overseas. in wins and draws Bats man Won Drawn Runs Average 100s /50s Runs Average 100s /50s Tes ts Tes ts Rahul Dravid 15 1577 65.95 5/3 42 3484 71.31 36/63 51. next only to Tendulkar ’s 5594.71 77.Africa. There was talk.91 53. scoring 461 runs at 76. Dravid scored 5131 runs in Test wins. that this award wasn’t always around during the days of some of India’s earlier players. no Indian has won as many match awards overseas as Dravid has. West Indies. was admittedly a huge disappointment. and five in overseas wins.43 10/10 75. when he fought the home team’s pace attack almost single-handed. he is one of only three Indians to achieve this feat – Sunil Gavaskar and Vijay Hazare are the others. England. Adelaide (2003).288 52. and only one in a win (excluding Tests in Bangladesh). and – in what must rank as arguably his best series. Quite fittingly. His last series. including unforgettable performances at Headingley (2002). Rahul Dravid’s Test career Tes ts Runs Average 100s /50s Home ave Away ave T ill Mar 31. one of two times he scored a century in each innings of a Test.90 2/8 26 1931 58.70 – both aggregate and average higher than Tendulkar ’s. 2002 55 4329 50. he was often India’s main man. even more than Tendulkar. Dravid was Man of the Match in the last overseas Test win that India achieved during his career – his second-innings 112 and match tally of 152 were largely instrumental in India winning a low-scoring game in Kingston by 63 runs.92 9/24 48. given the lack of batting support – in England in 2011. with ten centuries in 32 Tests. Two of those hundreds were in the drawn game in Hamilton in 1999. Overall.60 30. In fact.07 Aug 2006-Dec 2008 27 1460 31.51 4/14 . eight of his 11 Man-of-the-Match awards came in overseas Tests.35 53. but despite that he averaged more than 52 in his last 33 Tests. Dravid also scored mountains of runs in draws overseas. Indian batsmen in overseas Tests.83.31 42.

The 148 at Headingley in 2002 came after the first wicket fell for 15. Dravid averaged 62.10 27/36 Don Bradman 56 5078 103.29 5/8 Gundappa Vis wanath 6 533 53. In overseas Tests excluding Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.41.76 3/1 15 1386 57.41 13/18 .68 13/20 David Boon 111 4412 45. he averaged 51.81 in India and 51. in Rawalpindi.14 4/11 51 and above 66 3807 62. 270.00 2/8 Excluding Tests in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe No.40 3/3 30 2697 64.75. after Virender Sehwag had fallen to Shoaib Akhtar off the first ball of the innings.000 runs at that position. at The Oval. He is the only batsman at the moment to have scored more than 10. 3 all the more important.07 4/12 11 to 20 45 2482 60.41 1/5 21 1601 59.21 9/12 Sourav Ganguly 9 617 51.27 32/43 Kumar Sangakkara 160 8716 58. He averaged only 38 when the first wicket fell with ten runs or fewer on the board.35 abroad. 3 by point-of-entry scores Point of entry Innings Runs Average 100s / 50s 10 or below 66 2322 38. Highest run-getters at No.54 7/9 21 to 50 42 1913 53. though. his average at No.75 4/4 Sunil Gavas kar 9 756 50. scoring close to 53 runs per dismissal. came when he came out to bat second ball.94. At No. but on the 18 occasions when the first wicket fell at zero. 1 at No. was scored after the first wicket fell at 18. with the score between 11 and 20. and he did it at a superb average too. He also had plenty of success when he came in to bat fairly early.11 14/21 Rohan Kanhai 90 4689 52. He obviously also relished coming in to bat after the openers had given the team a solid start. 3 fell marginally below 50.30 2/3 19 1040 40. Dravid at No.58 13/20 Ian Chappell 91 4279 50. 524 52. to 48. his highest Test score.63 20/10 Richie Richards on 107 4711 47. In fact. 3 India didn’t always have the luxury of solid opening pairs through Dravid’s career.Virender Sehwag 11 965 56.94 13/22 Dravid’s stats at No. with three centuries and as many fifties. On the 66 occasions when they added more than 50. 3. 3 sorted by the score at which he came in to bat present some interesting numbers. Among his key knocks in such situations was the 233 in Adelaide in 2003 – that match-winning effort came after the openers had added 66. which made his presence at No. 3 in Tests Bats man Innings Runs Average 100s /50s Rahul Dravid 219 10. while the 217 that followed in the next Test.88 28/50 Ricky Ponting 196 9904 56. his home record was better – he averaged 54.

39 54.95 Michael Hus s ey 121 13 11.61 102. Ricky Ponting and Kumar Sangakkara have better averages when they have come in to bat with the score at 10 or under.93 3/9 21 to 50 1689/112.45 109.258 52. Given that the entire Indian team scored 89.29 Sachin Tendulkar 256 25 23.97 Steve Waugh 137 21 12. strokeplayers in the Indian team to express themselves freely.04 45.55 balls per dismissal.63 102.06 Shivnarine Chanderpaul 221 33 21.668 runs.3 overs.82 49.82 5/7 51 and above 1462/112.64 T hilan Samaraweera 116 20 10.40 2/1 975/46.000 balls played Dravid’s ability to spend long periods at the crease meant his contribution to the team was much more than just the runs he scored.80 8/13 11 to 20 524/52.40 Kumar Sangakkara 181 12 17.841 47.66 110. more extravagant. while Don Bradman’s stats are predictably beyond compare.31 42.06 Rahul Dravid 286 32 31.93 113.6% of the total runs that India made in the Tests in which Dravid played were scored with him at the crease. His solidity at the top of the order allowed the other.81 9/15 2445/78. the only batsman who has faced 10.236 55.781 56. Since the year of Dravid’s debut. he played 123 balls per dismissal.83 13/10 1953/48.And here’s a comparison with a couple of other top-class No.87 11/7 100s / 50s Staying through partnerships Dravid’s ability to spend long periods at the crease meant bowlers had to invariably work hard to get his wicket.61 9/10 2948/57. but their higher scoring rates also mean they don’t play as many deliveries per dismissal. They’re the only two with a balls-per-dismissal figure of more than 120.000-plus deliveries and has a higher rate of balls per dismissal is Jacques Kallis.705 53.039 runs (60 of those were in the Test between Australia and the ICC World XI. Highest balls per dismissal in Tests since Jan 1996 Bats man Innings Not outs Balls faced Average Strike rate Balls per dis mis s al Jacques Kallis 256 39 27. The corresponding . 3 batsmen by point-of-entry scores Point of entry BradmanRuns / ave 100s / 50s PontingSangakkara100s / 50s Runs / ave Runs / ave 10 or below 1403/127.139 57.06 48.31 101. The table below shows that when Dravid was at the crease.55 5/1 2359/53.19 43.46 6/3 2939/49. who averages 125.51 123. knowing that Dravid would hold his end up for long periods without losing concentration.98 107. so 31.43 1/8 1370/48. On average.60 125.53 Gary Kirs ten 143 14 13. 3 batsmen by their point-of-entry averages.979 runs were scored by the Indian team).653 52.99 Qualification: 10.22 54. Other No. which works out to 20.059 50. the team scored 32.79 42.89 47. it means 35.60 7/5 3631/69. Tendulkar and Kumar Sangakkara have similar numbers: both have higher averages than Dravid. Further down the table below.365 48.

000-plus Test runs Partners hips Partners hip runs 100/50 s tands Bats man runs Percentage Rahul Dravid 738 32.927 46. Dravid is also the only batsman to be involved in more than 700 partnerships. So while Dravid scored heaps of runs himself. Sehwag (10).47 Sachin Tendulkar 646 30.61 Sunil Gavas kar 519 21. only Shivnarine Chanderpaul has a higher partnerships-per-innings number (2. including openers. Dravid is also the only batsman to have ten or more century stands with four others. did: 6920 runs in 143 partnerships at 50. Langer (14) Dravid (20).948 63/82 10.349 65/119 12.122 48. with 6482. Laxman (12). Every time Dravid walked out to bat. no other batsman has touched 650 so far. the West Indian opening pair shares second place with Hayden and Ponting – both have 16 hundred partnerships each.09 Ricky Ponting 496 26. and 32. and won series in the West Indies and .58 Brian Lara 508 21.03 Bats man Dravid has been involved in more century stands than any other batsman: he finished at 88.039 88/126 13.66). M Amarnath (10) Beyond the batsman And if all those achievements are not enough.495 62/84 11. all of which helped the team’s cause. with Tendulkar and Ponting on 85 each.703 85/110 13.080 58/85 10.51. a period during which the team had an 8-6 win-loss record.470 51. And with Tendulkar. Ganguly (12) de Villiers (12) — — 63 Sangakkara (14).379 46.02 Mahela Jayawardene 429 20. Vengsarkar (10).61 Steve Waugh 590 23. Dravid was captain of the Indian Test team for 25 Tests.200 49.58 partnerships. Partnership runs for batsmen with 10. he was involved in. his batting style also meant many more runs were being scored from the other end while he was around. with 20 century stands. while in terms of century stands.288 41.) Batsmen involved in most 100-plus stands in Tests Bats man Century s tands Partners with 10+ century s tands Rahul Dravid 88 Ricky Ponting Sachin Tendulkar Jacques Kallis Steve Waugh Allan Border Mahela Jayawardene Brian Lara Shivnarine Chanderpaul 85 85 65 64 63 Tendulkar (20).percentage for Tendulkar is 29. 2.43 Jacques Kallis 581 26. Ganguly (10) Hayden (16).953 55. Dravid scored more partnership runs and century stands than any other pair.271 49.9. in fact.98 Allan Border 617 24. on an average. Among batsmen who have played at least 100 innings. Samaraweera (10) 62 Sarwan (12) 60 — Sunil Gavas kar 58 Chauhan (11).174 45.500 63/104 11. (Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes are next in terms of runs.457 64/87 10.278 85/121 15.6 for Kallis.

That was followed by a few impressive innings. Between 1999 and 2005. and that kickstarted a sustained run of excellence over the next seven years. and won nine of his 14 Man-of-the-Match awards. His poor final series in Australia meant his overall average against them dipped below 40 (38. 4. in a match overshadowed by Saeed Anwar ’s record-breaking 194. Dravid broke the shackles with an outstanding unbeaten run-a-ball 123 against New Zealand in Taupo.61 Rahul Dravid 25 8/6 11 1. Rahul Dravid’s ODI career Strike . mostly in the slips.70 Sourav Ganguly 49 21/13 15 1. which remained his highest ODI score. with only two centuries. It was only in the tougher conditions of Toronto.85 – and another run-a-ball century against New Zealand later that year.75. including his maiden century. Thus. Till the end of that year.England. 153 in Hyderabad. though. his ODI record was strictly modest: an average of under 32. he took a record 210 catches. are minor blips in a career that largely stayed at an exceptionally high level for more than 15 years. 11 and 13.83. which started with a bang. scored ten of his 12 centuries. and perhaps never was that better illustrated than by his 21-ball 1 against Bangladesh in a Coca-Cola Triangular Series match in May 1998.53. However. There’s plenty to like about Dravid’s Test career. Indian captains with best win-loss ratio Captain Tes ts Win/Los s Draw W/L ratio MS Dhoni 37 17/10 10 1. Dravid averaged almost 43 from 210 matches.33 Sunil Gavas kar 47 9/8 30 1. is his record against Australia and South Africa. while against South Africa he averaged only 33.67). That was another aspect of the game where his immense powers of concentration stood him in good stead. at a strike rate of 63. arguably the two best bowling sides during his playing period. only MS Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly have better win-loss ratios. The one disappointing aspect. Those. with only four hundreds. while the 233 in Adelaide remained his only Test hundred in Australia. Among Indian captains who led in 20 or more Tests.60. The 2003 World Cup was another big success – 318 runs at 63. In his first ODI of 1999. he notched up his first half-century and top-scored in two matches. 3. in 65 games. in 54 Tests against those two teams. that his orthodoxy and tight technique were first recognised as a blessing in ODIs as well: in the five-match Friendship Cup against Pakistan.00 Qualification: at least 20 Tests as captain And on the field. in 27 Tests in those two countries. He never scored another Test hundred in South Africa after that 148 in Johannesburg in 1996-97. he averaged 36. ODIs were still largely a struggle for Dravid. It included a fantastic World Cup in 1999 – 461 runs at 65. in 1996. though. Dravid in ODIs Unlike his Test career. against Pakistan.12 Mohammad Az haruddin 47 14/14 19 1. he averaged 36. Dravid’s scores in his first five completed ODI innings were 3.

69 85.97 42. scoring 2300 runs at more than 44 per dismissal.23 72. including at the 2003 World Cup.00 10/42 17/41 Bats man Qualification: 4000 runs scored Of the 344 ODIs that Dravid played in.09 87. apart from scoring tons of runs Dravid also kept wicket.48 1/12 210 7134 42. and in the process also notched up his highest score.71 4/46 .58 73. In fact. only had marginally higher scoring rates. which says a lot about his ability to work on his game and adapt.89 40. Dravid was among the most successful ODI batsmen in the world. Dravid has been involved in both triple-century partnerships that have been recorded in ODI history: later in 1999. only MS Dhoni has a higher average.97 10/53 69 344 2046 10.99 9/63 Adam Gilchris t 282 9410 35. he smashed 145 off 129 balls and was in a 318-run stand for the second wicket with Ganguly.34 71. which made him one of only 11 batsmen to score 5000 or more runs in wins at 50-plus averages.43 45.36 99.27 39.50 7/40 Rahul Dravid 73 2300 44. Mohammad Yousuf and Sourav Ganguly. Best batting averages of wicketkeepers in ODIs Player ODIs Runs Average Strike rate 100s / 50s AB de Villiers 37 2009 80.60 4/14 Kumar Sangakkara 257 8647 39. while Dravid’s strike rate of 72 was very acceptable too. he shared a 331-run stand with Tendulkar against New Zealand. Kallis and Tendulkar – had a higher average.94 16/53 Andy Flower 186 5845 34. Batsmen like Inzamam-ul-Haq.82 75.97 80.64 96.66 45. He was competent enough at the job to do it 73 times.24 1/18 12/83 In the seven years from 1999 to 2005. Among batsmen with at least 4000 ODI runs during this period.69. In those 73 games Dravid didn’t allow his batting to suffer.28 76.97 71. Among wicketkeepers who have scored more than 2000 runs.65 8/11 MS Dhoni 190 6235 49.889 35. India won 160.Period ODIs Runs Average rate 100s /50s T ill Dec 1998 Jan 1999 to Dec 2005 Jan 2006 onwards Career 65 1709 31. only three – Damien Martyn.61 10/53 13/37 5/45 Mohammad Yous uf Sourav Ganguly 194 194 6502 7185 40.18 70. Top ODI batsmen between Jan 1999 and Dec 2005 ODIs Runs Average Strike rate 100s /50s Damien Martyn Jacques Kallis Sachin Tendulkar 163 177 151 4411 6348 6181 46.84 76. and his contributions in those games were pretty significant: 5729 runs at 50.44 78.66 42.07 5/30 10/48 17/28 Rahul Dravid Ricky Ponting Inz amam-ul-Haq 210 179 180 7134 6443 5772 42.13 71. Dravid’s debut as wicketkeeper was especially memorable: in the 1999 World Cup game against Sri Lanka.16 76. Through some of that period between 1999 and 2004. which at the time was the highest partnership for any wicket in ODIs.48 75. who were generally rated as far more free-stroking.64 63.

38 2/6 6/15 2/8 Sourav Ganguly Martin Crowe 21 21 1006 880 55. Those are disappointing numbers.18 1. In fact.32 83.18 39. though. Dravid’s overall World Cup record was splendid.27 52. In 79 games they won 42 and lost 33.97 and a strike rate of 66. the one blot on Dravid’s ODI career is his record against the best team of his era: in 39 innings against Australia. Dravid’s record was top-class.37. Of course.15 74. given Australia’s awesome bowling attack. Dravid’s partnerships with these two were fruitful in World Cups too: he averaged 88 with Ganguly and almost 83 with Tendulkar.97 88. especially given the number of matches he played against them.75 105.31 Strike rate 85.27.46 74 146 73 39/33 76/65 23/43 1. Indian captains and their ODI records* Captain MS Dhoni Rahul Dravid Mohammad Az haruddin Kapil Dev Sourav Ganguly Sachin Tendulkar ODIs W/L Ratio Bat ave 106 79 59/37 42/33 1.57 4/3 1/8 Bats man 100s /50s 3/5 *Qualification: 750 runs scored Dravid’s stint as ODI captain is remembered largely for India’s shocking early exit in 2007.39 78. That makes him one of only three players – Tendulkar and Ganguly being the others – to have scored more than 4000 partnership runs with at least two batsmen. but India’s overall ODI record under his leadership was extremely healthy.19 Strike rate 82.94.95 56. an average of 24.47 70. plenty of other top ODI batsmen struggled too – Ganguly averaged 23. even though his last World Cup campaign ended in bitter disappointment in 2007. Dravid had the most success with Tendulkar and Ganguly.74 76. 2012. where a version of this article was first published on March 9. and Sehwag 22.42 174 90/76 1. he had a highest score of 80. putting together 11 century partnerships and scoring more than 4000 runs with each.50 83. Against all the other teams. giving them a win-loss ratio of 1.Alec Stewart 138 4017 33. Among captains who have led India at least 50 times in ODIs. only Dhoni has a better ratio. Anwar 23.05 Rahul Dravid Sachin Tendulkar Hers chelle Gibbs 22 45 25 860 2278 1067 61.06 4/26 Qualification: 2000 runs scored Of all the batsmen he played alongside.49 *Qualification: 50 matches played as captain Like in Tests.00 77.55.88 55.53 30.55 75.66 38. only Viv Richards has a better average.45.79 37. Best World Cup batting averages* Matches Runs Average Viv Richards 23 1013 63. . though.42 56.16 0. S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo.98 87. Among batsmen who scored at least 750 World Cup runs. even in a format that was initially thought to be outside his comfort zone.59 1.92 42.


31 42.62 100 2 2 3 1 2 2 3 5 0 50 4 4 7 3 4 5 1 4 0 436 95 984 148 413 118 865 190 624 200* 935 180 1357 217 803 233 Career averages NO Runs HS 3 946 270 0 640 135 4 1095 146 2 606 129 2 805 136 1 747 177 2 771 191 3 1145 146* 0 116 47 .80 97.63 42.00 60.79 38.11 1 3 6 15 2 3 1 1 3 1 6 1 4 27 5 0 2 4 11 3 home away 70 94 120 166 11 21 5598 7690 222 270 51.49 45.96 83.33 SR 42.Test match record overall Mat 164 Inns 286 NO 32 Career averages Runs HS 13288 270 Ave SR 52.44 49.00 42.85 42.57 29.35 42.35 45.38 53.74 34.33 60.66 42.64 70.58 42.53 100 0 36 50 0 63 v Australia v Bangladesh v England v New Zealand v Pakistan v South Africa v Sri Lanka v West Indies v Zimbabwe 33 7 21 15 15 21 20 23 9 62 10 37 28 26 40 32 38 13 6 2 5 2 3 3 1 7 3 2166 233 560 160 1950 217 1659 222 1236 270 1252 148 1508 177 1978 146 979 200* 38.05 78.06 53.26 41.35 63.67 70.44 44.56 44.60 48.37 0 1 1 4 2 1 5 2 3 9 3 1 1 6 5 3 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Mat 12 8 12 10 15 6 12 12 3 Inns 18 12 22 19 28 10 20 23 6 Ave 63.44 40.83 35.50 31.64 30.10 65.73 33.92 51.00 100.83 48.80 53.00 46.25 19.24 34.93 37.88 48.03 42.61 38.41 2 3 7 6 5 2 3 5 3 13 1 8 6 3 5 9 13 5 in Australia in Bangladesh in England in India in New Zealand in Pakistan in South Africa in Sri Lanka in West Indies in Zimbabwe 16 7 13 70 7 6 11 12 17 5 32 10 23 120 14 9 22 21 28 7 4 2 3 11 2 2 1 1 5 1 1166 560 1376 5598 766 550 624 662 1511 475 233 160 217 222 190 270 148 107 146 118 41.83 57.75 59.08 52.28 41.63 61.80 51.16 39.00 68.42 36.90 39.40 46.63 40.69 79.54 49.60 44.64 63.71 33.47 40.69 51.93 63.51 100 36 50 63 Career summary Grouping ICC World XI India Mat 1 163 Inns 2 284 NO 0 32 Runs HS 23 23 13265 270 Ave SR 11.38 43.33 59.37 37.60 15 21 27 36 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 7 12 5 10 6 13 16 5 12 18 9 19 11 23 26 10 1 2 0 1 3 3 3 2 39.06 37.83 78.44 41.57 59.86 46.50 45.22 45.

87 35.59 4 32 10 53 10 22 9105 4183 59.49 39.88 53.84 15 4 17 23 12 28 3 20 219 21 11 8 4 Batting position 0 72 38 4 735 146* 20 10524 270 3 957 146 3 308 144* 2 413 180 0 279 95 0 4 28 2 1 1 0 0 1 50 6 1 2 3 270 180 58.93 52.51 41.16 11.94 45.95 53.10 51.12 43.12 44.15 31.07 30 6 39 24 75 89 65 57 3 7 4 18 4121 222 4984 270 2608 180 1575 103* 57.52 37.78 39.M Azharuddin MS Dhoni R Dravid SC Ganguly A Kumble V Sehwag GC Smith SR Tendulkar 12 35 25 49 14 3 1 25 21 62 45 80 27 6 2 43 1 7 6 13 2 0 0 3 Under captain 1162 190 2812 191 1736 146 4912 270 785 111 199 83 23 23 1659 148 is captain is not captain 25 139 45 241 6 26 1st team innings 2nd team innings 164 132 164 122 1st match innings 2nd match innings 3rd match innings 4th match innings 75 89 67 65 won match lost match drawn match 56 49 59 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3 14 134 16 11 6 4 42.75 25.80 42.16 38.00 45.40 33.38 35.51 73.47 24.89 42.51 .73 41.50 41.98 45.83 40.78 47.31 31.75 40.83 69.19 51.57 2778 146* 29.08 5379 222 64.78 42.95 45.50 68.89 42.38 44.23 60.75 37.81 40.28 41.73 42.26 42.39 15 15 5 1 15 24 15 9 92 98 96 14 5 13 5131 270 65.46 4 11 4 14 1 0 0 2 6 8 10 22 5 2 0 10 1736 146 11552 270 44.08 35.

00 190 103* 38.83 64.11 4044 123* 41.97 66.88 75.68 238 68* 39.02 39 26 9.53 69.00 1012 92* 38.44 415 90 27.28 69.33 52.42 0 0 0.18 100 0 0 12 50 1 0 82 4s 5 3 942 6s 0 0 42 v Australia v Bangladesh v Bermuda v England v ICC World XI v Ireland v Kenya v Namibia v Netherlands v New Zealand v Pakistan v Scotland v South Africa v Sri Lanka v UAE v West Indies v Zimbabwe 43 10 1 30 1 1 11 1 1 31 58 1 36 46 1 40 32 974 80 24.60 74.63 358 104* 71.28 64.30 73.94 197 60 32.58 17 17 17.59 7 7* 350.00 68.53 68.82 1348 109* 42.26 6 2 24 37 317 349 16 16 78.24 100 12 50 83 4s 950 6s 42 Grouping Asia XI ICC World XI India Career summary Mat Runs HS Ave SR 1 75 75* 105.00 1309 84 39.94 100 0 1 0 50 4 2 2 4s 41 38 27 6s 0 4 0 home away 97 120 3406 153 43.12 74.00 0.14 66.89 1156 104 38.57 408 105 34.60 Career averages Runs HS Ave SR 538 92 31.39 885 85 36.00 74.00 111.33 73.12 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 2 0 0 3 1 3 0 8 2 0 11 1 1 0 5 14 0 14 11 0 8 8 85 13 0 103 5 33 0 96 157 2 116 144 8 127 61 2 0 1 5 0 1 0 10 1 0 4 8 0 10 0 in Australia in Bangladesh in Canada in England in India in Ireland in Kenya in Malaysia in Netherlands in New Zealand in Pakistan in Scotland in Singapore in South Africa in Sri Lanka 22 9 18 32 97 4 8 4 2 12 11 1 6 30 42 0 0 0 2 6 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 7 2 2 11 24 1 2 0 0 2 6 0 0 10 8 53 23 27 117 317 10 27 5 0 36 51 2 18 70 88 0 0 3 7 16 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 2 4 3 in UAE in West Indies in Zimbabwe Mat 17 15 14 666 84 33.00 10 10* 125.64 59.20 104 104 104.13 295 60 42.85 80.63 63.00 44.51 67.66 66.87 72.92 930 84 44.48 75 75* 105.53 112 74 37.11 320 72* 32.30 67.00 425 123* 38.15 71.16 71.44 .73 1032 153 41.ODI record Overall Career averages Mat Runs HS Ave SR 344 10889 153 39.20 1238 145 45.75 46.66 65.92 77.11 78.17 10 10* 125.87 340 10768 153 39.33 503 99 50.00 73.66 59.63 3 46 26 15.54 1662 145 48.58 1899 107 36.65 3406 153 43.

42 65.33 70.neutral 127 3439 34.42 26 15.34 100 2 1 0 50 6 2 6 4s 76 29 45 6s 3 1 0 19 627 76 48.92 5 7 38 45 408 542 13 29 Mat 160 165 2 17 Career averages Runs HS Ave SR 5729 153 50.23 72.16 63.01 67.05 623 62 41.39 76 23.27 4807 123* 31.87 71.19 75.05 68.33 0 6 56 1 tournament finals tournament semi-finals 24 729 103* 34.47 919 105 35.90 81 26.42 69.80 70.70 77.22 82.71 105 42.24 42 23 21.23 73.41 71.24 73.97 78.49 74.99 2 10 25 58 275 675 14 28 73 2300 145 44.00 124 69 24.42 1092 104 47.42 37.52 913 109* 48.41 100 8 4 0 0 50 47 33 0 3 4s 506 408 5 31 6s 26 15 0 1 Tournament World Cup Asia Cup Aus Tri Series (CB) ICC Champions Trophy Mat 22 13 18 Runs 860 334 545 HS 145 104 84 Ave 61.05 SR 74.34 980 85 35.66 61.26 311 82 38.84 75.69 54.32 0 1 12 0 is designated keeper is not keeper won match lost match tied match no result 58 42.11 4 22 284 10 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2009 2011 20 31 14 43 31 24 28 23 31 30 27 31 6 5 475 90 27.54 63.19 38.71 68.74 76.22 68.87 69.62 283 64 21.11 32.77 4687 109* 35.60 4 14 193 9 271 8589 153 38.65 64.98 74.88 8 69 757 33 1st match innings 168 2nd match innings 171 6202 153 42.24 6019 153 38.64 73.76 1761 153 46.69 75.42 109* 41.04 67.28 75.87 153 38.13 1 3 59 4 4 128 66.00 55.50 0 1 0 6 0 0 1 0 1 2 1 0 0 0 3 8 1 8 9 6 7 4 10 9 8 8 1 1 32 77 16 164 91 58 70 50 85 100 112 75 11 9 1 2 0 12 1 1 2 4 2 2 3 10 2 0 4 0 2 3 0 0 3 6 2 25 34 2 0 14 103 25 275 346 31 3 167 4 3 14 12 0 0 9 145 M Azharuddin MS Dhoni R Dravid SC Ganguly A Jadeja SM Pollock SR Tendulkar 34 17 79 133 13 3 65 1206 355 2658 4229 320 46 2075 Under captain 145 40.33 52.66 70.78 9 3 48 35 528 422 27 15 day/night match day match 147 197 4870 123* 40.00 70.22 65.94 951 107 39.00 740 80 43.66 .91 is captain is not captain 79 265 2658 8231 105 153 42.34 823 92* 37.80 69.53 1025 104 39.20 74.40 180 76 36.

16 0 0 5 0 1 68 68* - 78.00 26 16 26.91 73.91 306 51 51.50 58.16 0 1 7 0 153 4555 145 37.38 100 0 1 7 2 2 0 0 0 50 1 6 27 26 22 1 0 0 4s 16 64 363 300 181 25 1 0 6s 1 3 15 4 15 3 1 0 .60 95.76 4000 153 38.33 69.tournament quarter-finals preliminary quarter-finals preliminary matches Batting position 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 2 57 48 28.60 70.00 SR 60.27 2459 104 43.83 3301 109* 36.07 5 38 390 11 Mat 8 13 109 102 69 13 3 1 Runs HS Ave 191 85 27.28 595 105 45.63 70.00 11 11 11.09 52.03 59.91 69.

like all anthologies. Vijeeta and Pushpa Dravid. for their generosity. but a book does not come to life without vital contributions from many people without bylines.Acknowledgements This book. And Nishi Narayanan. for dealing with masses of copy. Rina Mehta. Priya Ramani. Thanks are due to: Saurabh Chaturvedi. features a number of writers. for sharing their family albums. . for getting excited by the idea. for being the punching bag. Wally Mason and Alex Lavelle.