If there is one person whose public perception defines the word underappreciated, it’s Rahul Dravid. Right from his debut in international cricket till his recent appointment as coach, he has been overshadowed by contemporaries. Nevertheless, the full moon named ‘Wall’ has eclipsed most of the other greats when it comes to actual achievements.
A Child prodigy
Rahul Dravid was born on this day (1973) in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Later Dravid’s family moved to Bangalore. He was a child prodigy. Dravid started playing cricket at the tender age of 12. Later, he went on to represent Karnataka at Under-15, Under-18, and Under-19 levels.
Dravid’s first big cricketing breakthrough came when he was just 18. He made his Ranji debut in 1991 as a college boy. In the 1991-92 Ranji Season, the Jammy (as he is called by his mates) went on to average 63.30. He went on to dominate the domestic circuit for 3 straight years before being considered for national selection in October 1994.
It took time for selectors to recognise Dravid’s talents
Dravid could not get his deserved opportunity in his first series. He was forced to return to domestic cricket. It took two more years before Dravid made his ODI debut against Sri Lanka in April 1996. 2 months later, Dravid was selected for his test debut at Lords.
At the time of Dravid’s debut, Lord’s was considered to be Temple of Cricket. Its elevated outfield combined with seaming conditions is still good enough to rattle someone’s confidence. But we are talking about Dravid here. Rahul came on to bat at number 7 and scored 95. Unfortunately, his 95 was eclipsed by another Debutant Sourav Ganguly’s ton.
Initial struggles and his grand success in 1999 world cup
For the next two years, Dravid was consistent enough to secure his place in both tests and ODIs elevens. Even Dravid’s not-so-good batting proved to be better than most on bouncy tracks of South Africa and West Indies. It took some time for him to cement himself at number 3.
Dravid emerged as a formidable force in the 1998/99 season. With four hundreds and five fifties, he went on to score 752 runs averaging 62.66. While Dravid was scoring loads of runs in Test matches, his ODIs’ performances were not up to the mark for the first four to five years of his international career. This led to Dravid being branded as a Test Specialist by many.
The 1998/99 season holds significance for Dravid in his ODIs prospects as well. The New Zealand tour was considered to be significant for teams preparing for the 1999 world cup. On the seaming wickets and in the swinging conditions of New Zealand, Dravid emerged as the highest run-scorer with 309 runs from five games at an average of 77.25 and a strike rate of 84.65.
In the 1999 world cup, Dravid emerged as the top scorer for India. He scored 461 runs from 8 games at an average of 65.85 and a strike rate of 85.52. People still remember his 318-run partnership with Sourav Ganguly. He contributed 145 runs off 129 balls in that.
Number-3 spot and captaincy
After securing his place in both formats, Dravid went on to become reliable number-3 for India. His grand successes in both formats saw him appointed as a captain of the national team. Even before being appointed as permanent captain, Dravid had shown his captaincy mettle by leading India to victory in the 2004 series against Pakistan.
However, Greg Chappel’s Chappelism proved to be disastrous for the team and Dravid resigned from ODI captaincy after the 2007-world cup. Later, Dravid left test captaincy as well in September 2007. In his later years, the Great wall continued to provide stability to India’s batting line-ups; until his stoic retirement in 2012.
Read more: Rahul Dravid inducted into ICC Hall of Fame
After retiring from international cricket, Dravid continued to serve Indian cricket in other roles. His love for cricket saw him coaching Under-19 teams for many years. Under his tutelage, Prithvi Shaw led team emerged victorious in the U-19 cricket world cup of 2018.
Good boy image hindered Dravid’s development
One thing Dravid does not seem to like is that being branded as ‘Good boy’. It is only this good boy image that translated into Dravid not crossing boundaries against Greg Chappel. It is exactly for this reason, Dravid remains overshadowed in fav- four comprising him, Ganguly, Sachin and Sehwag. Truth is, as much as three others deserve appreciation for their differing levels of aggression; Dravid deserves much more for his role as a tree balancing the storms caused by these three.
Read more: Rahul Dravid- The ‘God’ lesser worshipped
Later in his career, Dravid did show some aggression. Everyone remembers his 2013 rift with fiery Mitchell Jhonson. Similarly, he went on to make some tough changes in regulations related to the Indian domestic circuit as well. Later, when he was appointed as coach of the Indian Cricket team, Dravid was not afraid of saying Yes to Kohli’s sacking as ODI captain. Within two months of Ravi Shastri’s ousting as a coach, Dravid has been able to change the team culture.
Dravid donned other hats as well, which include commentator, mentor, IPL player. In his retirement years, Dravid has remained an anonymous personality in the public glare. His simplicity and humbleness has drawn aww from the audience as well as Pundits. We at TFI, wish happy 49th birthday to ‘THE WALL’.