Rahul Sharad Dravid
The Great Wall of India
Rahul Dravid is widely regarded as one of the greatest batsmen in the history of world cricket. Call him “The Wall”, “Mr Reliable” or “Mr Dependable” but in words of Sachin Tendulkar, “There was and is only one Rahul Dravid. There can be no other.” Dravid made his test debut against England at the Lords cricket ground in 1996, playing a magnificent inning of 95 runs. Since then, there has been no looking back. Though critics have raised questions on his one day international (ODI) form from time to time but his records speak louder than the words of critics. He was the highest run scorer in the 1999 World Cup which Indian team exited at an early (Super-6) stage. A makeshift wicket-keeper in the times when the team needed to accommodate an extra batsman, an efficient slip-fielder with a world record of 210 catches, a saviour of the team in the most difficult times, Rahul Dravid was an answer for all troubles. In the era of modern day cricket when cricketers are surrounded by controversies, Rahul Dravid is one role model who upholds the image of the true gentleman who excelled the sport.
However, he has had his little share of controversies as well. In 2004, he was found guilty of ball tempering during an ODI against Zimbabwe. Declaration of a Test innings at Multan is one of his most debated decision that left Sachin Tendulkar standing at 194 not out, just on the cusp of his double century. He captained the Indian team in the 2007 World Cup. However, a poor show led to the early exit of the team.
Later, he relinquished the captain’s armband to focus on his batting. He is regarded as one of the last of the classical batsmen. With typical selflessness he called it a day in January 2012 not before becoming the first player to score hundred against each Test playing nation. He is also a life member of the prestigious Marylebone Cricket Club. “He was totally a class act, on and off the field. A terrific role model for youngsters with his work ethics, with the way he carried himself, with the way he applied himself. It’s going to be a bit void in Indian cricket now. I think you really won’t find anybody playing with the same tactical virtuosity that you saw with Rahul Dravid,” said former Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar at the time of Dravid’s retirement. He was awarded Player of the Year and Test Player of the Year award at the inaugural edition of ICC awards in 2004 and was awarded the Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2000. He was an ambassador not only of Indian cricket but of the sport as well.