Bangalore, Mar 11: Fast bowler Lakshmipathy Balaji, who played eight Tests and 30 ODIs for India, saluted Rahul Dravid and described him as the "university of cricket."
Balaji, the Tamil Nadu captain and Indian Premier League team, Kolkata Knight Riders' paceman, was Dravid's team-mate in the Indian team and also in Chennai cricket league, turning up for India Cements.
Since those playing days to the Indian international journey, Balaji has learnt a lot from Dravid, who retired from international cricket on Friday in Bangalore.
"Dravid is the university of cricket. He is an education for all aspiring cricketers. He showed such discipline, humility throughout his career," Balaji said in an exclusive interview with Thatscricket on Sunday night.
It was in the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in the year 2000 that Balaji had his first meeting with Dravid.
"I was in NCA and it was a dream come true to see and meet Dravid in the gym. I was there as an Under-19 cricketer from South Zone."
The 30-year-old continued: "Dravid is one of the best gentlemen of the game and one of the loyal servants of Indian cricket. He has contributed in a big way to the game."
Balaji, who made his ODI debut under Sourav Ganguly's captaincy in 2002, played along with Dravid in his first match. The tall bowler is feeling proud to have played in the Indian team that had stalwarts like Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Ganguly and Dravid.
"I feel proud to have played with such great cricketers like Dravid, Sachin, Kumble and Ganguly," he said.
Balaji felt Dravid will find it difficult to keep himself away from the game after having played for more than 15 years.
"Dravid will find it tough to keep himself away from the game. He has been involved right from his younger days. He has given his everything for cricket."
Balaji hopes to see Dravid giving something back to the game and he wants "The Wall" to be involved in administration.
"I am looking forward to see Dravid giving something back to the game. He should involve himself in administration or some other way. I wish him all the success in his post-retirement days."