Dravid leaves a true legacy
First of all, congratulations on a glorious 16-year career in international cricket and thanks for all those brilliant innings on the cricket field. The thing I dreaded the most, came true on Friday when you finally said goodbye to the game that you served in right earnest.
Still, it is hard to digest that you won't be taking the field in Indian colours. Some degree of solace can be drawn from the fact of you will be playing this year's IPL for Rajasthan Royals as captain and mentor. This time I will follow and cheer Rajasthan, not for Shilpa Shetty but for you, Dravid.
I read somewhere that left-handed batsmen are naturally elegant when they bat, but you were an exception. From a purist point of view, there are a few right-handed batsmen in the history of the game who look graceful and elegant when they bat. Gundappa Viswanth, Mark Waugh, VVS Laxman and Mahela Jayawardene come to mind, but you will top this list any day.
There were days when I used to copy your stance and trademark cover-drive. Somehow, I managed to get the stance right, but failed to replicate your cover-drive and went back to concentrate on my bowling. Some might stop to ask you, was it the right time to retire? You are the best judge and after much thought you would have taken this decision. Moreover, you played like a proud man and retired as a proud man.
The only complain is, why did you choose to announce your retirement in a press conference rather than leaving the game from a cricket field, which would have been a fitting farewell to a glorious career? It would have been a great sight to see you, perched on your team-mates' shoulders waving to the crowd a final goodbye. But you never cared for the spotlight, did you?
The Olympic champion, Abhinav Bindra, in his biography A Shot at History: My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold, compares himself to you. If I'm quoting him right: "I'm more like Rahul Dravid with limitations, but I work hard to overcome these limitations."
You were a true team man and put the team's cause ahead of everything. You opened for India even though you were averse to batting in that position: you donned the wicketkeeper's gloves in order to accommodate an extra batsman. You did all these roles with elan and accepted the challenges and did it credibly well in your own style.
From now on, when Laxman will look to his left standing at second slip, he won't find his best buddy and will miss those small chats between a delivery and over. I guess that is how sports is, and how short-lived a sportsman's career is.
There won't be another Adelaide, Kolkata or Leeds, but these breathtaking innings will always remain treasured with us. Thanks for everything, Rahul Dravid. And good luck in your future endeavours.