Bangalore, Mar 22: It was an evening to remember at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday as Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) honoured one of the legends of the game, Rahul Dravid.
It was a fitting tribute to Dravid, who started his cricketing journey at this Bangalore ground and went on to become one of the most decorated batsmen in world cricket. Dravid retired from Test and first class cricket recently.
Dravid said he was touched and humbled by all that was written about him post-retirement and thanked everybody who had played a role in him becoming what he is today.
As KSCA honoured one of its most famous sons, there were few more illustrious cricketers in the audience. Former India cricketers from Karnataka, GR Viswanath, Roger Binny, EAS Prasanna, Syed Kirmani, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Sunil Joshi, Vijay Bharadwaj and a host of former Karnataka players made it a memorable evening on the outfield of the M Chinnaswamy Stadium"s ground.
Kumble and Srinath joined Dravid on the stage which had a background of the batsman's images and a catchline "Rahul Dravid - It's an honour." The trio spoke some of the moments they cherished being together in the Indian team.
Dravid recalled how as a 12-year-old he was brought to the Chinnaswamy Stadium by his father.
"I am lucky to have started my journey at this stadium. I came here, to the 'B' ground with my father as a 12-year-old. Since then I have spent 27 years at this ground. It has been a special journey," Dravid said.
When asked about his first meeting with Dravid, Srinath recalled: “The first time I saw Dravid was at former Indian wicketkeeper Sadanand Vishwanath"s house. I was gifted a cricket kit bag by Vishwanath when I went to his house and as I was coming out, Dravid, who was his neighbour walked in. As I was carrying a heavy kit and walking out of the house, I saw a young Dravid coming in. He introduced himself to me and offered to carry the kit till the auto rickshaw stand. He walked with me for 100 metres and when he hand the kit back, it had become lighter. I guess he had taken all the weight off the kit and converted into those heavy scores. Rahul Dravid had just taken away the 23,000 runs that I would've scored otherwise!"
Kumble said he first saw Dravid as an Under-15 cricketer when he himself was playing in the Under-17 category. "I met Rahul first in Calcutta (Kolkata) when he was a part of the Under-15 team and I was a part of the Under-17 team. I'd heard a lot about him before and we exchanged pleasantries as we walked past each other. The only difference between then and now is the amount of runs he has scored in between, otherwise he hasn't changed," Kumble said.
Dravid appreciated Srinath"s commitment as a fast bowler and added he never thought of becoming a paceman. He wondered how fast bowlers maintained themselves with so much workload.
"I always ask Javagal Srinath how he could bowl fast and bat. It requires special skills. I cannot bowl fast ... I could have done anything on a cricket field, but not bowl fast. It was not my cup of tea," Dravid said.
Kumble, the President of KSCA and Secretary of KSCA, Srinath, along with the managing committee of the association, presented a plaque to “The Wall" for his contribution to India and Karnataka cricket. The plaque was handed over to Dravid by 1983 World Cup winner Binny.
Dravid"s parents, his brother Vijay and some of his former college mates and those who played with the 39-year-old batsman during his days in Karnataka cricket also graced the occasion. A huge dais with a background of Dravid"s batting images was a perfect setting on the ground. An Audio Visual was made showcasing glimpses of 10 of Dravid"s Test knocks. Some memorable innings from Dravid, like the 180 in Kolkata, 270 in Rawalpindi, 233 in Adelaide and others featured the AV.
There was also a message video message from former Australian skipper, Steve Waugh, who is one of Dravid"s role models. Waugh, in the video, congratulated the Bangalore batsman for a wonderful career and wished him luck in his future endeavours. He also recalled how Dravid and Laxman had tormented the Australian in the famous Kolkata Test in 2001.
"He is someone who valued his wicket," Dravid said of Waugh.