While judging Rahul Dravid in ODIs, plenty of considerations need to be taken, that he was on a hundred scoring spree when he was made to keep and bat lower down the order, and he wasn’t afraid to bat for longer times even in ODIs just to make the game more competitive and the chance of a favorable result more realistic, that he showed on a few occasions that he wasn’t all about singles and 70s-80s strike rate, that he served the team in various conditions and various roles. But for now, just forget all that.
Even without this farewell series, around 10,700 runs at a strike rate of 71 with 94 50-plus scores and an average of 40, isn’t this enough to call a cricketer among the best of the format? If you consider solely strike rate, there haven’t been batsmen of his generation who have scored that many runs in the middle order primarily. If you consider average, for 340 games, an average of 40 is any middle order batsman will be proud of. If you consider the sheer amount of runs, you would know their can’t be many to match his mettle.
I could argue that his strike rate is low because he often scored when the conditions were tough and nobody else really stood out and he had to do the dirty act. I could say if he wasn’t dropped in 2007 when he was in top 10 ODI batsmen, he would have had a couple of thousands of runs more. I could say if he wasn’t made to bat lower and keep, he would have got many more hundreds. But just forget all that, I would like to flush all these out of the memory for now. Just remember Rahul Dravid for what he is and what he did.
The pleasure he has given to the viewers is unmatched by any of his contemporary. How many cricketers can boast of having bowled full quota of overs on a couple of occasions and doing very well, and also keeping wickets for 70 odd games? How many cricketers can boast of a record where they’ve given pleasure to lovers of contest between bat and ball and also for those who crave for hits and fast runs? How many cricketers have given pleasure to the audience who loves the contest between the swing of the ball and the bat, and the contest between reverse swing of the ball and the bat, and the spin of the ball and the wrists? He has been defensive, he has been attacking, he has played in all conditions against all types of bowlers. He hasn’t been a stubborn person who, after losing a job, goes into mid-life crisis and keeps going lower and lower unless someone comes and pushes him. He’s been someone who’s said to the ball that I’ve faced the previous challenge perfectly and that’s why a new one awaits me which I should do justice to.
The inspiration he has given to the people can never be matched at all. It’s just like an engineer is told to manage business of engineering components. A layman will tell it’s about engineering only. A businessman will tell business isn’t for everybody and an engineer will tell you sorry boss, only technical. Business is ODIs, Engineering is Test Cricket, Engineer is Rahul Dravid. And without his work experience as an engineer, not many will believe that he’s not a businessman. It’s just that we know that he has played Test Cricket and the way he has done it, that he isn’t an ODI great. Surely he is an ODI great, even if he wouldn’t have played a single Test Match, this ODI record is something that makes him an ODI great.
I guess it’s time to learn from Rahul Dravid, whatever life throws at you, don’t be a Devdas, be a Dravid. And I can proudly and with all my confidence say India can get replacements of players for different roles, but they can’t get replacement of Rahul Dravid. Rahul Dravid has been much more than a player, a cricketer.