New Delhi: The cricket fraternity paid rich tributes to Rahul Dravid, who on Friday retired from all forms of cricket, describing him as a "perfectionist" and next only to Sachin Tendulkar in greatness in his generation.
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly said Dravid's determination, technique and commitment towards the game was special.
"I am not surprised at this decision. I think it's a mixture of everything including the team's performance. He was a perfectionist. He used to always strive for perfection. His determination, technique and commitment towards the game was something special," Ganguly said of his former team-mate.
"It's really tough to become another Rahul Dravid. It will not happen overnight. It has taken him long to get here. One has to go through a lot of hardships and commitment," he said.
"It's always tough for one in any profession to announce his retirement. It feels sad, but sport is time-oriented. Many greats have come and gone, the likes of Pele and Diego Maradona have quit. Roger Federer will go one day. Rahul Dravid did it today. I feel in cricket you can play a little longer," the left-handed batsman insisted.
Legendary Sunil Gavaskar said Dravid's decision to bid adieu to the game has left a big hole in Indian cricket.
"It will be a big hole to fill. It was a decision in the pipeline for some time because once a player gets [to the age of] 35-36, talks of leaving the game are at the back of his mind, so [it] really didn't come as a surprise," he said.
"We always think, not only in cricket but in different walks of life, it will be difficult to replace somebody. While obviously the style will be very different, there will be younger players coming," Gavaskar said.
"The results will not be immediate but they will be soon enough. Indian cricket fans will have some new hero to look up to, some new idol to cheer. That is the nature of the sport," he further added.
Describing Dravid as a "great motivator", off-spinner Harbhajan Singh said, "Day before yesterday, he called me to inform about his decision. I wished him all the best. Everyone knows he is a legend of the game.
"He has been a great motivator and we all looked up to him in the manner he prepares for each and every Test match. It was a lesson for all of us."
Harbhajan added: "On a personal note, I can never forget that amazing catch of Dale Steyn he took off my bowling."
Harbhajan was referring to Dravid's 200th catch in five-day cricket which he took off Harbhajan's bowling during a Test match against South Africa in Durban in 2010.
Former captain Ajit Wadekar said Dravid was like "Great Wall of China for the India team".
"Rahul was like the Great Wall of China for the Indian team and it cannot be created again. He has scored the highest number of runs after Sachin and also played the highest number of Test matches after Sachin. It's impossible to have another Dravid and impossible to fill up the void," he said.
Another former captain Nari Contractor said, "Like Vijay Merchant, Vijay Hazare and Sunil [Gavaskar] have gone down in history, like Sachin [Tendulkar] will go down in history [when he calls it a day], so too will Rahul go down as among the very best India has produced.
"Rahul has been next only to Sachin in everything [in the number of runs scored in Tests and the number of centuries]. He has made runs when they mattered most for the team. What more would you have expected from him."
Former all-rounder Bapu Nadkarni was also full of praise for Dravid and said he was wrongly omitted by the selectors in one-dayers and then came back into the limited-overs game with a bang and also kept wickets too.
"He was a totally self-less cricketer. He has been very helpful and never said no to anyone and always gave his best," Nadkarni said.
Former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad applauded Dravid's decision to step down and make way for the youngsters.
"It's a bold decision. A tough decision for anyone to take. He probably doesn't feel he has no cricket left. He is making way for the youngsters, which is amazing. It's sort of an example for many others," said Gaekwad.
"I know him closely. When I was the coach, he was recognised as the Test cricketer. I was there as selector when Dravid made his debut alongside Ganguly. That was a brilliant beginning. I knew he had the mettle in him. I was the one to get him to one-dayers. I somehow convinced the other selectors that he will be good in the one-dayers as well.
"He was very disciplined and focused. I never told him he needs to work hard on batting or physical fitness. He was a self-made cricketer. He was very confident. He knew exactly what he needs to be doing even in adverse condition. He is a role model for any youngster. Leaving aside Sachin Tendulkar, if you want to emulate, it has to be Rahul Dravid," he added.
Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha said nothing could have been a better experience for him than sharing the dressing room with Dravid.
"There cannot be another Rahul Dravid. He is a legend. As a youngster, I learnt a lot from him. It is great to have him.
"Bowling to him, talking to him, sharing the dressing room...anything cannot be better than that," Ojha said.
"Rahul bhai must have thought about it [retirement]. I personally feel there cannot be another Rahul Dravid."
Speedster Ashish Nehra fondly recollects the amazing catches that Dravid took while standing in the slip cordon.
"When Rahul or Laxman were in the slips, as a bowler you were doubly confident that the catches will be taken. Dravid, along with Jacques Kallis and Mark Waugh, are the finest slip catchers in world cricket. Standing at first slip, when Harbhajan Singh or Anil Kumble is bowling on Indian pitches, you need a lot of guts to stand in the first slip," he said.
Paras Mhambrey, who debuted in the same 1996 England series as Dravid said, "He was always confident, very hard working. He is an ideal role model for the younger generation."
"Sixteen years of career is a fabulous one. I feel he was fit and good enough to prolong his career, but it's an individual decision. He will be missed," said Mhambrey.
International cricketers also paid rich tribute to Dravid on microblogging site Twitter.
India opener Virender Sehwag said Dravid would always be missed.
"Jam, it was a pleasure & privilege to have played with u and ur presence in the dressing room always added to our confidence. Will miss u lots," tweeted Sehwag.
England batsman Kevin Pietersen termed Dravid as a "Legend" and said that he would be missed on the cricket field.
"Rahul Dravid-LEGEND!! Plain & simple..congrats on an incredible career!! India WILL miss #thewall..," wrote Pietersen.
Former England skipper Michael Vaughan tweeted: "Rahul Dravid retires.. The worlds most respected cricketer over the last 20 yrs.. LEGEND.."
Heaping praise on Dravid, West Indian cricketer Chris Gayle wrote on his Twitter account: "Congrats on a Fantastic, Superb International Career! The Great Legend Rahul Dravid !!The wall will be miss!!"
South Africa one-day captain AB de Villiers said Dravid is a fantastic person and cricketer.
"Congrats to Rahul Dravid on an amazing career! You will be missed. Fantastic person and Cricketer! India's #wall," wrote de Villiers.
Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar tweeted: "Rahul Dravid - Knew the man behind the bat. Not often do you find a person as exceptional as his achievements.."
Aakash Chopra thanked Dravid for all the fond memories.
"Extremely emotional to see my hero bid goodbye to cricket. Thank You for the memories. Words fail me. You're a legend. #respect," tweeted Chopra.