Bangalore, July 24: Fifteen years later on a glorious summery afternoon, arguably the prettiest batsman that the cricketing world has seen finally got to his first century at the Mecca of cricket – Lord"s. Rahul Dravid could have achieved this landmark in his debut Test in 1996 but fell 5 runs short and he had to live with that for fifteen long years. On day three of the First Test between England and India, to say he thought about it when he walked out on to the pith, would be an understatement.
Of course, he must have had that 95 figure looming large in front of his eyes. And when he was dropped on 42 his heart must have skipped many a beat. But all that is in the past and today
Rahul Dravid has the distinguished honour of being the second highest run scorer in Test cricket (12417 runs) and of course, getting his name etched on the Lord"s honours board. An amazing achievement at a time when his more illustrious teammate hogs the limelight, for scoring the most number of runs ever (14726), the master at 5 feet 5 inches - Sachin Tendulkar.
Dravid has always lived in the shadow of 'others". Not a position he chose but what destiny gave him. Tirelessly, he plays for the country in all the international formats. Over time he has earned the pseudonym of 'the Wall" for his dogged determination to stay at the crease in the longest version of the game. But most of all 'Rahul Dravid batting clips" would form a crucial part of the coaching manual for youngsters as to how to play those 'perfect" shots.
Be it the charismatic cover drive, or the scintillating straight drive and those elegant square cuts, just some of the Dravid repertoire. Dravid may not be the most exciting batsman but he is the most solid you would ever find. Given the character of Test cricket being a deep and insightful version, Dravid"s style of batting fits in to the scheme of things beautifully.
For cricket lovers the world over, watching the likes of Rahul play is like applying a soothing balm on a painful knee. And his recent most 100, his 33rd in Tests was a delight to watch despite the one life that he got when he was on 42(a number associated with being the Ultimate answer to the Ultimate question in life).That"s cricket, and life really.
In typical Rahul Dravid style at the press conference post his century, the 38 year old was his dead pan serious self, and sported no euphoria. A trait perhaps Dravid could work on, for even though he says he goes through life normally, the happiness, the passion the raw joy seldom appears on that Dravid visage. And this was his reaction to that 15 year wait at Lord"s for a 100.
“ ... to miss out on my first Test match, to miss out on a hundred here fifteen years ago, it was something that did stay with me a little bit. It's not that if I hadn't got this hundred here, it would have been the end of the world. That's fine, it happens… there are a lot of great names on that board and it is one of the most talked about honours boards by international players across the world, so it's nice to be on it."
Unassuming, intelligent and oozing grace and finesse, Rahul Dravid will always be remembered as the man who silently achieved greatness. Perhaps a tad too quietly.