Mumbai, Mar 28: Tributes poured in from former greats, current cricketers for retired batsman Rahul Dravid, who on Tuesday, was felicitated by the BCCI for his enormous contribution towards Indian cricket during his 16-year long career.
The second higest run-getter in Test cricket history was also described as "huge pillar" of Indian cricket "greatest number 3 bat" and one of the "best cricketers and ambassadors" and many more glowing tributes poured in from former cricketers and current players to the batting legend.
Former captains, Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly, current captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and VVS Laxman spoke during the function attended by a former cricketers, BCCI officials and other dignitaries.
Describing Dravid as a "huge pillar" Ganguly said Dravid was a great ambassador of the game.
"He was one of the huge pillar through which Indian cricket went forward. He is one of the greatest batsmen not just in India but in world cricket," Ganguly said.
"You (Dravid) played in an era when Indian cricket went from strength to strength."
Ganguly rated his 180 against Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001 as Dravid's best knock.
"As far his best knocks are concerned, there are bound to be debates. But as I had said always, the one at Eden Gardens is the best. Though I rate the knocks overseas highly, I think the knock at Eden with VVS (Laxman) not only established him in world cricket but was also important for Indian cricket.
"I am happy that he could take the decision on his own. His contribution to Indian cricket isn't finished with the number of runs he has scored or the catches he has taken, he is a great ambassador."
The left-hander said he was lucky to have Dravid as his deputy when he was the captain of the Indian team.
"I was lucky to have you as vice-captain for five years, the work behind you and John (Wright) did."
Former captain Anil Kumble, with whom Dravid spent most of his career, said it would be difficult to replace the cricketer. "It's been a great partnership with you Rahul. When we look back we can gladly say we will only remember the wonderful memories. I just spoke about the 55 catches you have taken (off my bowling).
"When his first son Samit was born, somebody sms-ed saying caught Dravid bowled Kumble. But his son cannot be Rahul Dravid. It would be easier for his son to take 2 wickets than score the number of runs he has scored, just like it would be easier for my son to have a batting average of 18," Kumble said.
"All of us know how he is as a person. During the evening-outs on tours he would know exactly what I hated. He was at times lost in his own thoughts, probably thinking about how he would bat the next day or analysing the day's proceedings. I know in the next couple of months he would be busy with the IPL. I tell you its going to get busier."
Laxman, along with Dravid proved to be a formidable batting pair with innumerable match-winning partnerships, described Dravid as an "all-time great".
"It is a great occasion in the presence of the legends and the Indian greats of cricket to celebrate the end of the illustrious career of one of the all-time greats of the game. A great friend and a colleague.
"I will definitely be missing you in the dressing room. When I first met you as a 16-year-old, playing for Karnataka Under-19, I was impressed with your passion for the game and your style. We then went on to play for India and I cherish our relationship that blossomed over the years.
"In 1996, Rahul made his debut at Lord's where he got out after scoring 95. He must have been really disappointed not to have got his century. But he proved how much effort, hard work and pride he puts into his game when he scored his century at Lord's in 2011. Celebrations showed how much it meant for him to score it at the Lord's for his country.
Laxman recalled the sacrifices Dravid made in the interest of the team.
"He has always been a very selfless cricketer. And that was proved by the various roles he has donned as a cricketer over the years. Right from opening the batting to keeping, he has always showed that for him team comes first.
"All the best to Rahul as he prepares to spend the time with his lovely family. I would also like to congratulate his family for the upbringing and the way he has been. Even after achieving so much he has always remained grounded. I am sure he would contribute to Indian cricket in the future also."