Bangalore, Mar 9: Whenever Team India needed a man for a crisis, it was Rahul Dravid, who put his hand up. From opener to middle order batsman to slip fielder to wicketkeeping, you could depend on Dravid to deliver. In a way, he was an all-rounder of a different kind.
Also read: Dravid's retirement speech
When Dravid decided to call it a day at his home ground, M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Friday, an average Indian fan would have definitely asked himself this question, will there be another Dravid? The answer is, NO.
In an era of instant cricket where Twenty20 attracts more crowd than a Test, Dravid's departure might also signal the end of classical Test batsman.
Over 15 years of international cricket and more than 23,000 runs in Tests and ODIs, Dravid had always been a team man.
Dravid, "The Wall" was India's saviour. Indian team will miss Dravid in Test cricket. It was Dravid's batting that helped India shed the poor travellers' tag. His overseas record speaks of his ability to score in conditions alien to Indian batsmen.
When India could not find the perfect opening pair, Dravid was always there to face the new ball. Even while batting at number three, he was forced to come out in the first over itself when India lost a wicket early.
In a way, Dravid's cricketing journey was not a smooth ride. He was always walking into a crisis-like situation. The number three position was so crucial that if Dravid failed early, the middle order and the lower order was exposed so soon. He has been world's best number three Test batsman with over 10,000 runs in that position.
One can never forget his knock of 270, his Test highest. That came against Pakistan in Rawalpindi in April 2004. The innings was so special because Dravid walked into the middle in the second ball of the Indian innings as Virender Sehwag was dismissed for a duck in the every first ball by Shoaib Akhtar.
Dravid came out that day so early and was the ninth man dismissed as India registered a historic series victory on Pakistan soil. Dravid was the architect of that success.
In Australian captain Steve Waugh's final series of 2003-04, Dravid denied Waugh a winning farewell as he scripted India's victory in Adelaide, December, 2003. His 233 and 72 not out in that match, is one of his best matches, as "The Wall" himself recalled on Friday.
Dravid's career is full of such instances where he played match-winning knocks in backs-to-the-wall situations.
When captain Sourav Ganguly wanted to play an extra and seventh batsman in Dinesh Mongia for the 2003 World Cup, Dravid donned the wicketkeeping gloves. And he did that job with perfection. That helped India reach the final.
Besides being a technically perfect batsman, he was the ideal slip fielder, ending with the highest number of catches (210) in the five-day format.
Since making his debut in 1996 against England at Lord's, Dravid has been a role model for youngsters. He has played the game in the right spirit and was never involved in any controversy.
His team-mates have high respect for this gentleman cricketer and a great ambassador for the sport.
Dravid forged a memorable partnership with VVS Laxman. History will never forget what they did in Kolkata in 2001. While most people talk only about Laxman's 281 in that game, Dravid's 180 was as precious as the Hyderabadi's knock in one of the greatest comebacks in Tests against Australia.
Cricket being the team sport, today's youngsters can learn from Dravid's example. Always put the team first, never play for personal records.
Dravid remained an unselfish cricketer. Indian cricket and world cricket will certainly miss him. There can never be another Dravid.
Thank You Dravid for all the memories.