The first of India’s modern batting greats to do so, Rahul Dravid has hung up his spikes at the age of 39. Ever since his international bow at Lord’s in 1996, he has been one of cricket’s preeminent performers.
He will be sorely missed. Not just by India, but by the cricketing world at large.
He is my favourite of India’s fabled batting line up. He always played with resolute desire and a humility that is shamefully rare in the modern era. He was a man who stoically went about the business of accumulating runs whilst always putting the team first.
He will be best remembered for his exploits in the Test match arena, where he has become the game’s second highest run getter. He departs the scene with 13,288 runs at an almighty average of 52.31.
Add to that the fact that no one in history has claimed more catches than his 210 and you can see why this man is a totemic figure in the modern game.
His ODI career was effectively ended in 2008, when his career as a whole looked to be drawing to a close. That he came back so strongly is testament to Dravid’s competitive spirit. His ODI career was even briefly resuscitated last year during India’s tour of England out of sheer necessity. No one else could buy a run.
It was in England in 2011 that Dravid gave the world a reminder of what it will be missing. He was the epitome of a one-man band as those around him limply rolled over and kneeled before England.
Like a soldier that wouldn’t accept that the war was won, however, Dravid fought on, bravely and alone, to top score for India with 461 runs at an impressive 76.83.
The only tinge of regret must be that he didn’t call to a close his career there and then. Such is the selflessness of the man that he must have recognised that India desperately needed him for their tour of Australia.
Another miserable, abject Indian performance abroad this time even managed to drag down The Wall.
Having battled for his place and his career once before, Rahul Dravid has now accepted that the war is over. His job is done, and he owes India and cricket nothing. We all, however, owe him an immense debt of gratitude.
By Miles Reucroft