When Rahul Dravid announced his retirement from the international cricket arena, for days there was a flurry of writings, interviews and pictures, all giving an ode to the cricketer, who has retired as a 'great' and the man who remains to be as gentle and balanced as ever. The book 'Timeless Steel' comes across as another ode to the man. But this one, being a great compilation of what the cricket men think about him and what he thinks, is indeed a more insightful read. While most of the writings may not be new for an ardent cricket follower, they certainly are a pleasure to read as there is slightly more than what one might have read.
The book by ESPNCricinfo and Disney describes Rahul Dravid as cricket's 'go-to man' and as one's regular, everyday superstar. The words fit in quite well to describe the man who has been our boy next door, yet our star, a role model.The first two parts of the book have writings by experts and by his peer group. Rahul Dravid is not one of those cricketers who easily got the title of a 'great' or a 'talent'.
But as Suresh Menon, Editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack India finely puts it - "The combination of intensity and relaxation, self awareness and modesty, Test orthodoxy and limited overs creativity is rare. It is called talent and is as much a function of greatness as the stunning on-drive and the powerful square cut, both of which Dravid was master of."
Similarly, Sambit Bal, Editor of ESPNCricinfo, justifies the 'great' title for Rahul Dravid in a crisp manner - "Some are born to greatness, Rahul acquired it. In some ways, that is the greater achievement."
There are instances in these writings which perfectly describe how even as Dravid played under the shadow of well established names like Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, he took each moment as an opportunity and proved to be a great himself. From domestic cricket, county cricket to international cricket, these writings about Rahul bring about the best of his innings, his catches and above all, his traits as a human being. Yes, not any different from what we've read about Rahul the person, the writings too describe him as the humble, patient gentleman.
The next part of the book is my favourite part - The Great Innings. This part of 'Timeless Steel' takes one back to Rahul's greatest innings from the Adelaide test in 2003 to Nottingham in 2011. If you are a Rahul Dravid fan, these innings descriptions bring back the visuals from those innings of Kolkata 2001, Leeds 2002, Rawalpindi 2004 and the best one - Adelaide 2003.
The book then goes to some personal writings from those who have known Rahul beyond cricket. These writings include the one that his wife Vijeeta wrote when he retired from international cricket. That piece remains one of the most enjoyable ones I have come across on Rahul, for the perfect personal appeal it has for those who have the urge to know Rahul Dravid - the person.
Then follows the big part - The Rahul Dravid part. This is where it's from the man of the book - Rahul Dravid. This part has the best interviews of him put one after the other, followed by the Bradman Oration speech.
The grand finale of the book is the numbers, the records of the cricketer of all times. It's these numbers - of his batting, his fielding, his bowling, his captaincy - that will, at the end of the book, make one say - We'll miss these innings. We'll miss watching Rahul play live cricket.
'Timeless Steel' is a compact journey from the time Rahul Dravid started playing cricket to the day he announced his retirement. From facing the 'not in form' times to being the most dependable man in the team, from the hardships of captaincy to being the role model for his juniors, the book may not be something different from what one may have read, but it leaves a Rahul Dravid fan, rather a cricket fan, happy and content to have witnessed this quality cricket, thanks to Rahul Dravid. I'll definitely add 'Rahul Dravid - Timeless Steel' to my personal library, you as a cricket fan, must read it too.