When people are asked who the best batsman in the world is, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara are the first names that come to mind. Perhaps Ponting. Kallis, perhaps. We refer to them as “run machines.” And if you’ve ever seen them bat, you’ll probably agree since they were so skilled at it.
In the same league, though, there is another type of cricketers who have had to rely on hard work rather than cricketing ability. Like a computer-based batting simulator, they tend to develop a conventional technique. They have built an airtight method through traditional means and made it function in international cricket through hard effort and determination.
If there was ever a batting approach that could be used to construct a computer simulation for cricket shots, Rahul Dravid’s has to be it.
Rahul Dravid was most likely one of the last true Test match batsmen. Dravid put himself at the vanguard of a new, defiant generation of players who were no longer easybeats away from home, despite his slow and systematic ascension into the national side.
Rise Of Rahul Dravid
He became the cement that held the foundations sturdy while the flair players expressed themselves, thanks to an orthodox technique taught into him by Keki Tarapore. He, too, could stroke the ball around when the mood struck him, despite being swiftly categorised as one-paced and one-dimensional.
He compensated for his lack of natural athletic ability with pure hard effort and qualities of concentration that were almost yogic. He batted for 835 minutes across two innings in Adelaide in 2003, when India won a Test in Australia for the first time in a generation.
A few months later, he spent more than 12 hours at the crease for the 270 that gave India its first series victory in Pakistan. Initially viewed as a liability in one-day cricket, he has since retooled his game to become a capable middle-order finisher.
His Test exploits, on the other hand, will be remembered the most. Dravid’s breakthrough innings came against a South African attack accustomed to bullying visitors at the Wanderers a few months later, after impressing in a Lord’s debut where he was eclipsed by Sourav Ganguly.
After a brief downturn, he came back with possibly one of the most famous supporting roles of all time, bowling to VVS Laxman in an Eden Gardens Test that resurrected Indian cricket. With the bat, the next half-decade was a golden one, with tours to England and Australia yielding more than 600 runs.
Following Ganguly’s dismissal, he had a two-year term as captain, during which he led the team to a series victory in England and the West Indies for the first time in a generation. Under his leadership, India won the series in 2007. However, he appeared at ease when batting, particularly when it came to the first element of his job: protecting the middle order from the new ball if the openers falter.
And 2011 was a one-man show for him. Dravid overshadowed Sachin in England with three hundreds, including one at Lord’s that he missed on his debut. The other older mainstays of the Indian team had fitness concerns and failed badly. In Nottingham, he batted for a hundred runs and then opened the batting again when the follow-on was enforced.
The first element of the number 3 batsman’s role, sheltering the stroke-makers and stars from the new ball, was handled by Rahul Dravid, who was possibly the finest in the world at it. Rahul Dravid had countless block-or-leave streaks to see off nasty spells on tricky seaming wickets, and several famous batsmen owe him their hundreds and double-hundreds.
He did the first half of his job and then went on to make significant runs for the squad over the most of the 2000s decade. Individually, he had a dry patch where he was getting defeated by unplayable deliveries and was going through an expected slump in form.
He was back at his best at the old age of 38 when India toured New Zealand and England in 2009 and 2011, respectively, sheltering the middle-order stroke-players from the new ball and hitting hundreds in England.
Contributions To Indian Cricket
He has made a significant contribution to Indian cricket. Not only as a hitter, but also as a captain. With his stats and innumerable innings of brilliance – 93 in the 2008 Perth victory, 233 and 72* at Adelaide, and 270 at Rawalpindi, to name a few – his adaptability is unquestionable.
When he was standing in the slips, Dravid’s intense focus came in helpful. As he surpassed Mark Waugh to become the most successful slip catcher in history, he caught the majority of his catches in that cordon.
India required a stabiliser in a team that had a genius like Sachin, a magician like Laxman, swashbucklers like Sehwag and Dhoni, and the ever-volatile Sourav Ganguly. Rahul Dravid was the man they were looking for.
Some of his slowest innings are still remembered: 21 off 140 in Nagpur, waving his bat after scoring his first run in 40 balls, to mention a few. He was even despised for declaring with Sachin Tendulkar, the nation’s favourite cricketer, on 194*. Rahul Dravid deserves to be recognized for always putting the team first, no matter what.