When Rahul Dravid made his debut in the international arena, the first thing that impressed the discerning was his superb technique. In this fast changing world of cricket, where the One-day game is gaining precedence over the longer variety, the first casualty has been batting, with improvisation at the cost of technique. Even great players have resorted to unorthodox methods to accelerate the scoring pattern even though this has spelt their doom on many occasions.
In the mid-nineties, when Rahul Dravid was batting alongside Sachin Tendulkar, the former was subjected to a lot of criticism as a result of comparing the style of the two batsmen. However, even at that stage it was Rahul Dravid who played the sheet anchor role to perfection with his simplistic but sound batting display. Without in any way trying to belittle the genius Sachin Tendulkar, I have always been more impressed by Dravid's technique even in comparison to the Little Master.
The main forte of Dravid's batting over the years has been his perseverance. And what appears as simplistic and uncomplicated batting. The One-day variety has affected many a player's batting but Dravid has been able to retain the essence of sound batting. Beauty of style and harmony; of grace and good rhythm depends on simplicity. To persevere, trusting in what talent one has, is courage in a man. Under similar circumstances, a coward despairs. Dravid has clearly emerged a courageous man.
The need for Dravid's presence in the Test squads has never been in doubt ever since he made his debut. But there were lots of articles about how his style of batting will not be ideally suited for the shorter variety of the game. Dravid is a type of batsman who lets his deeds do the talking. After all "Our deeds determine us as much as we determine our deeds".
Every time his critics got more strident, Dravid's reply was more than befitting. He let his bat talk and patiently bided his time. His success at South Africa and later on all over the world in both varieties of the game silenced his critics.
It is not an easy task to bat along side Tendulkar and still carve a niche for oneself. But Dravid's performances ever since he took his bow in international cricket have been so impressive that it enabled him to establish his own identity alongside Tendulkar and Ganguly.
Dravid's utility to the team was never more than felt in Sharjah in the recently concluded three-Nation Tournament when India were bundled out for their lowest score ever. Dravid's injury had compelled him to return home and he had to skip even the Test against Bangladesh. The absence of Dravid contributed to the collapse of the Indian batting in no small measure.
Dravid has donned the mantle of the sheet anchor of the Indian batting. It was heartening to see the way Dravid batted in his come back Test against Zimbabwe (after a compulsory lay off due to his injury) and score an unbeaten double hundred in fine fashion. He has amply proved that perseverance is more prevailing than aggression.
For a person like Dravid, who is a deep thinker, it will not be long before he will be asked to take over the captaincy and in his simple way, he will do justice to the tasks on hand. Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought. Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed to be simple is to be great.
For someone who was at the receiving end of all criticism, Dravid has emerged as the leading beacon of Indian batting. He is the type of a player who bends but doesn't break. May his tribe increase.