There are a few batsmen who we never get tired of watching. They become a part of our psyche so much that you want them to carry on and on. Irrespective of the format they play in, they bring vitality and grace to it. The ability to keep pushing themselves to the limit brings out the best in them. Rahul Dravid has been one such player. The player whose contribution as an individual has gone beyond the cricket field - he has become the embodiment of success, a role model, an inspiration for many who dream to achieve big things in life with sheer hard work and perseverance.
But the time has come when we will see the last of Dravid on the cricket field. The upcoming Champions League T20 tournament, where he will be leading Rajasthan Royals, will be his last assignment in competitive cricket. He has already played his last matches in all three formats for India and the CLT20 will mark the end of a remarkable career. Although the purists always liked Dravid in whites, playing those monumental innings, scoring tons of runs - most of which came in crunch situations, the way he transformed himself to suit the shorter formats is a lesson for many who are jostling to make a right balance between different formats.
Coming out of that stereotypical image that portrayed him as a batsman not suited to shorter versions of the game is one of the finer points in Dravid's career. He not only adapted himself but also used the learned things effectively to hone his skills in other formats. Close to 11,000 runs in 344 ODIs at 39.16 exemplifies the adaptability Dravid showed. His effort even in T20 matches - 2538 runs at 28.84 in 103 games overall - also reflects that. Dravid kept his classical style of batting intact in the ultra-short format as well. Some of the strokes - a hoick on the leg side is one of them - that he would play in T20s might not be pleasing to the eye, but his getting runs is testimony to the fact that a player with good technique can always find a place even in the slam-bang format of the game.
The basic quality one expects in a leader is his ability to lead from the front and Dravid did that job exceptionally well, both for India and his IPL teams - Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals. Although his experience of leading RCB did not go the way he would have liked, he learned from that experience - as he has done throughout his career - and used it to good effect during his tenure at the Jaipur franchise. He carried on with the legacy Shane Warne left, letting the individuals do their job rather imposing things on them. The team's finish at No. 3 in IPL6 was the result of the team responding to his leadership.
What followed - Rajasthan players having found guilty of spot-fixing - not only shocked the team's supporters but also Dravid as an individual. But despite the catastrophe of such a magnitude, he came forward and aired his views impartially. Time and time again, on various platforms, he condemned the events and also suggested measures to curb fixing menace.
His unblemished personality on and off the field has exemplified that one can achieve greatness without compromising his principles. And there is hardly any surprise why he has been respected so much by his fellow cricketers and millions of fans, for he is a blend of qualities one aspires to achieve. Although he will be missed, both as a cricketer and person, he will always be remembered for the fond memories he has provided. Rajasthan doing well in the CLT20 will be a befitting end to a glittering career.