Dravid and the mastery of the struggle

The celebrated writer Amitav Ghosh once said about the process of writing: “It never gets easier; it’s always hard, it’s always a test. I’ve reached a point in my life where if a sentence seems easy, I distrust it.”

For many writers, practicing their craft is a daily, ongoing struggle. As Susanna Daniel says writing can lead to a state of “active non-accomplishment”. “Stunted ambition. Disappointed potential. Frustrated and sad and lonely and hopeless and sick to death of one’s self.”

For many writers, the joy lies in this struggle: to enter this web every morning, get trapped within and wriggle out by the end. To battle each sentence: twist it one way, then another before trashing it forever; to occasionally gather enough momentum to finish a paragraph; to extricate oneself from traps one has created for oneself; to get lost in one’s own plot before eventually creating a way out. This must bring a most masochistic joy.

I think of all this when I watch Rahul Dravid: his daily search for the struggle, his eagerness to bat on a spiked pitch, his desire to treat every ball like a grenade, his technique to counter any ball on any pitch and, most striking of all, his temperament to put behind the struggle that went before and focus on the struggle that awaits. Not for him a flat pitch on a sunny day. He’s not going to derive immense joy in hitting through the line. He craves a that masochistic joy.

For me, an ideal Dravid innings needs a most challenging pitch. If it’s a batting beauty with the ball coming on to the bat, give me Sehwag or Laxman; if there’s a truly great array of bowlers set to be unleashed, give me Tendulkar. If it’s a minefield, give me Dravid.

Great bowlers and a taut state of the match are a bonus. Kolkata, Adelaide and Rawalpindi are awesome but I want Headingley, Perth and Jo’burg. I want Kingston. I want Hamilton. The pitch must be spiced up or crumbling or smattered with cracks. A crater would be ideal. Or even a sandpit. Dravid cannot take stance knowing what the ball is going to do after pitching. He must not be offered predictable bounce. It’s all too insulting.

Dravid is the anti-McGrath. A batting metronome. Ball after ball, over after over, he wears bowlers down with his patience. It’s almost as if he has a plan: leave, leave, defend, leave, score. He sets up the bowler, making him bowl where he wants. Amid all this he calculates the vagaries of the pitch. It’s when he’s in a struggle that he’s in the zone.

For Hoggard, Caddick, Tudor and Flintoff at Headingley read Collins, Taylor, Collymore and Bravo at Kingston. For Donald, Pollock, McMillan and Klusener at Johannesburg read Doull, Cairns and Nash at Hamilton.

Today he was up against Edwards, Rampaul, Sammy and Bishoo. They were operating on a pitch that was up and down, just that nobody knew when it was up and when it was down. The ball jagged to and fro. Partners came, partners swished, partners got talked to, partners swished again and partners left. Through it all Dravid struggled, a truly masterful struggle.

He advised Raina to stop wafting down the leg side, he admonished Praveen when he swished. He disapproved when Mishra got impetuous and seemed to be advising Harbhajan to play with soft hands. He was sweating and his gaze was narrowing every hour. No one else could handle the pitch or the conditions. Only he knew how to enjoy this torture.

When I see Dravid bat, I think of our daily lives, the frustrations we endure. I think of how we struggle through the mundane: paying bills, shopping for groceries, standing in long queues, cleaning utensils, vacuuming. I think of how we go through days at work, bogged down by clerical chores, stuck in pointless meetings, often accomplishing tasks that we least enjoy. I think of our silly struggles and how we’re often overpowered by them.

And then I think of Dravid. Of course I admire him for his technical expertise, his equanimity, his ability to rescue a side. Of course I marvel at the way he bats and bats and bats. Of course I enjoy how he battles a crisis.

But most of all, I’m constantly in awe of his mastery of something we all try and run away from: the struggle.

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179 Responses to Dravid and the mastery of the struggle

  1. Anoop says:

    Beautifully put. Often ‘unsung heroes’, for the public tend to be people whose, process of achieving heroism isn’t mostly pretty – to watch at least. The end result though is highly gratifying and appreciated and lauded by the public. If Sehwag is the SC Bose of Indian independence, no one better deserves to be Gandhi than Dravid. Patient, Powerful, Prosaic, Peerless – The Wall.

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  3. Ashanka says:

    Aah Bib, wonderful article!

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  5. Bhuwan Chand says:

    Nicely expressed feelings… have made fun of Dravid at times and felt totally frustrated with the way he had batted in many innings, but there is always a admiration for his patience and technique…

  6. Sairam Krishnan says:

    Really good Sidvee… Very well written.. Enjoyed it immensely…

  7. Manish Achuth says:

    Brilliant article. Remembered Hamilton in 2002. His 39 was the highest score of the game then. One of those not-so-fondly remembered Dravid knocks. And he was head and shoulders above everyone in that carnage called 66 all out.

  8. Chuck says:

    Beautiful. One of the last great true Test innings of all time was Dravid’s glorious 148 at Headingley, an innings I watched from beginning to end with rapt attention. Thanks, Sid. This was a lovely piece.

  9. Gordian Knot says:

    i expected nothing less from you as i still remember THAT article you wrote about the twin fifties in the same venue 5 yrs ago.. your posts are few and far but all of them oozes quality :) keep writing

  10. beyondlust says:

    Amazingly well written article. That innings in Adelaide.. simply masterful!

  11. Srinin says:

    “For me, an ideal Dravid innings needs a most challenging pitch. If it’s a batting beauty with the ball coming on to the bat, give me Sehwag or Laxman; if there’s a truly great array of bowlers set to be unleashed, give me Tendulkar. If it’s a minefield, give me Dravid.”

    “Dravid is the anti-McGrath. A batting metronome.”

    Brilliant expression where prose can become poetry.

  12. Nakul Sud says:

    Really well written for two reasons – one ofcourse is the style of writing and the other is the thought of potraying it the way you did. Amazing

  13. kasi viswanathan says:

    U can’t write anything better on the WALL… worth reading… :)

  14. Nithya says:

    Brilliant writing!

  15. Aparna says:

    You really captured the soul of The Man in these words. Very well put, I doubt that anyone could have worded it better. You encapsulated what all of us feel, but struggle to express.

  16. Impressive article. Rahul Dravid is a true epitome of a batsman. Loved it when you write “If it’s a minefield, give me Dravid.” .. Right on the spot on that. The fact that he has managed to still hold on to that patience and frustrate the hell out of bowlers inspite of all the criticisms just speaks of his greatness and all that he has achieved. Hail Dravid. A Class Apart.

  17. Rajesh says:

    Beautifully written. Dravid proves again that he is the WALL and right on spot

  18. Prateek Sarkar says:

    Awesome article on an amazingly good cricketer. Very well knit. Lucid yet vivid. Keep writing :)-Regards

  19. Bhavin Shah says:

    very nicely summed up….Dravid may not get the due in his times when most of accolades go to likes of Sachins and Laxamns but his greatness is second to none. thanks for writing this piece.

  20. Jens Jose says:

    dravid… u rock for ur patience and the way you bat even when you are treated so badly by the selectors and some of the media…. hats off…

  21. chin512 says:

    Lovely lovely article. True legend RD is. He is like a student who enjoys if the exam paper is tough and questions are asked from ‘out of syllabus’ !!

  22. Very well put. Especially this

    For me, an ideal Dravid innings needs a most challenging pitch. If it’s a batting beauty with the ball coming on to the bat, give me Sehwag or Laxman; if there’s a truly great array of bowlers set to be unleashed, give me Tendulkar. If it’s a minefield, give me Dravid.

  23. surya says:

    i remember Dravid’s reaction to Donalds Verbal assault after he hit him for a six during the 97 away ODI . He did not reply. walked around a bit. defended the next and an on drove the third ball for a boundry

  24. It was my privilege to have read this article…
    Nice take on the Phenomenon called “The Wall”

  25. J says:

    Oh golly! Love you for this one!! Wonderful write up! =)

  26. Girish says:

    How beautifully have you captured the essence of a (and almost every) Dravid innings !! His batting has been a pleasure to watch and your writing, a pleasure to read !

    Wonderful and do write more often ! :)

    Cheers

  27. Ramakrishnan says:

    Very well done.

  28. sumit sharma says:

    Very well written

  29. ~j~ says:

    Enjoyed the article immensely. Loved every word. Can’t really pick one knock as my favourite but that 148 at Headingley would rank very, very high on my list.

    Also, this is a quote from RD on the day’s play: “It’s a good cricket wicket. It’s slightly in favour of bowlers and that’s how it should be.” Now which batsman would want to admit that? He’s brilliant. Period.

  30. thats probably the best article i have read on dravid :)

  31. Terrific article!

    More than the innings, match or ultimate result of the series, I think the most important thing to come out of this knock is to give Kohli, Raina et al the first hand experience of a gritty Dravid innings.

    We’ve seen him do this so many times, it seems odd to imagine Dravid do anything but graft and work and struggle for runs on a difficult pitch. The fact remains that he is able to do what he does by sheer dint of hard work and mental fortitude. These are not esoteric skills or the results of a genetic lottery, but within the reach of most young cricketers, if they but wish to reach out and take it. I hope that seeing Dravid fight it out, up close and personal, has taught the next generation of India’s batsmen a thing or two about batting in Test cricket.

    • Vinay Das says:

      I’ve heard it said that ‘hard-work is a talent’! So, I don’t think it’s necessarily ‘within the reach of most young cricketers’… :) RSD is truly special -& I think the Indian Test team will miss him like they’ll miss no-one else.

      Nice work as usual Sid.

      -vnd

  32. Brilliant article man. I remember the Headingly test. Was a tutorial to batting on tough pitches. The way he batted made it easier for Tendulkar and Ganguly to score hundreds and India winning the match by an innings. Lucidly written. Please write more :)

  33. great article on a great sports person

  34. srbharadwaj says:

    Wow…easily the best article on RD

  35. srbharadwaj says:

    Wow…easily the best article on RD, loved every bit of it…guess there is always a some joy at the end of a struggle and RD epitomizes about it perfectly

  36. ajith says:

    I just admire him. He is a class of his own. To see cricket(Gentleman’s game) the way it needs to be played watch sachin or dravid. Of course, sachin has got numerous accolades. But Dravid is the unsung hero of this game. How may matches has he and Laxman made india win. I am referring to test pitches. Not our Indian pitches. Those two are the real pillars when travelling overseas. Alas, sooner these accomplished batsmen will bid adieu but they will always be remembered in the anals of cricketing history as one of the greatest cricketers to have walked on this earth.

  37. SuperTramP says:

    Of all the eulogies i have read on Dravid, I might just have liked this the best :)

  38. venkatreddyblogs says:

    Brilliant piece. And to add to all that he is struggling with his technique. His front foot is going to cover and the bat is coming down from fine leg. So virtually every ball he is playing across the line. And yet, he batted so beautifully. Whatever we may say about the West Indies, this is a world class attack (minus Sammy) and a very difficult pitch. So to see him make such a significant contribution was very satisfying. After Jamaica, I have seen Dravid make inconsequential runs on flat tracks (even though the match situation was difficult, the century against Herath and Welegedra on a flat track at Ahemedabad was so un Dravid). Over the past couple of years, his concentration levels have been dropping (in South Africa especially, I thought he was finished). But to see what he accomplished yesterday was so satisfying as a lifelong Dravid fan. Sheer mind over matter stuff. Great player, great piece

    • kakalakas says:

      That innings came at india being at 30 odd for 4. Plus in my opinion that was probaly Dravids most beautiful and fluent innings i have ever seen. He scored 177, and his strike rate was close to 70%. Some of those Cover drives and Flicks through the leg side were a real treat.

      However if you notice, since india has been doing so well lately, he has been the opposite since 2007, barring 2009 and some parts fo 2010, this may illustrate further the fact that he prefers batting when the pitch is hard to bat on, or when the team is in trouble.

      But in the recent past your right in that his bat is coming down from third man, and his front foot gets him in a tangle, which can restrict run making. His concentration has also seemed to wane slightly and for some reasons he tends to poke at deleveries outside offstump early on in his innings, something he never used to before 2007.

      however a postitive is that his stroke play has become even more exciting over the years, and you do see more lofted shots against the spinners these days from Dravid. He has always been of one the most best and attractive to watch when hes playing his shots, even though his 112, was mostly about his defense and concetration which was epic to watch.

  39. Radha says:

    Wow! Just wow!

  40. Chaitanya Deshpande says:

    a great piece…!

  41. sricharanc says:

    Brilliant flow of thoughts and words.

  42. Simon Raj says:

    Lovely Article… Dravid you are the Great Wall of Indian Cricket….

  43. prats says:

    Very few can describe so poignantly the real emotion of Rahul..just beign called the WALL doesnt give one enough space to admire. You have written this so beautifully.

  44. Vinay P says:

    Neat..!! Reading this gave me as much joy as watching Dravid bat..!!

  45. Anush says:

    The commentary in cricinfo yesterday, went like this, “Dravid’s innings is a tutorial on how to play in these pitches” .. Truly it was !

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  47. ganpy says:

    A batting metronome..

    That about summarizes Dravid. A great tribute to Dravid in the context of what he just did yesterday.

  48. Sanath Kumar says:

    I didn’t watch his yesterday’s innings.. but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Brilliant article

  49. jyoti says:

    please do write more…….cant read better appreciation article on read………it just treat for me

  50. debojit says:

    Amazing… one of my preoccupation remains reading your articles from the cricinfo rummages :) couldn’t have been a better tribute.

  51. Pradeep S says:

    Superb article …. I liked the line .. If it’s a minefield then give me dravid .. Hats off to the unsung hero …. “THE JAMMY”

  52. Prashanth says:

    awesome article !!!!! plz show this to Dhoni n Srikanth n tel them he is the guy for any team n how those 2 dropped him from ODI’s !!!!!

  53. Kunal Gupta says:

    well narrated & hats off to DRAVID….

  54. devi says:

    aww….this article took my heart away!! brilliant piece of writing on a very very fine cricketer

  55. Beutifully put together. We all know about Dravid and have looked in awe at his craft. But I like the way you have compared it in the beginning with writers. I connected with it. I wrote a few blogs about cricket and every time it seems harder. Now when I go back and read one of the old ones I wonder how did I write this one…..

  56. TheLastBeep says:

    Like the way u put ur chain of thoughts. And a beautiful parallel u drew there!
    ..will be back for more..
    Cheers!

  57. I stopped reading when the authour linked laxman with flat pitch. Dude grow up.

  58. Sreenath says:

    Since noone has dared as yet, let me take the challenge.

    Sachin is the greatest!!! How can you not mention him in an article about Dravid’s victory in struggles? SACHIN IS GOD!

    On a lighter note, brilliant article. Very well written. RD deserves every bit of it and more.

  59. Sriraj says:

    Well-written scribe. In my view, Dravid is the BATMAN of Indian cricket. A superhero with no super powers. Saving the team from crisis, but getting little credit for it. A villian he became, when he sought for a change with in our cricketing mindset along with Chappell, yet a no accusations to save his skin – uncalled in the modern Indian cricket. He epitomizes Darwin’s theory of evolution – only the fittest adapt and survive. It has been privilege to have see him bat when he was at St. Joseph’s and all the way to now.

  60. Sriram says:

    Wonderful piece, Sidvee. On rum (http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/450892.html) or not, you really have an eye for details and are a most beautiful writer :-) Almost as if to prove your point, Dravid himself says that he would like to play on such pitches: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H71BV3Q1Olw&feature=channel_video_title

    On a tangential note, I was comparing Ponting’s and Dravid’s stats and was struck by the fact that they are nearly carbon copies of one another. Here they are as (Matches, innings, NO, Runs, Highest, Avg)

    R. Ponting : 152, 259, 28, 12363, 257, 53.51
    R. Dravid: 151, 261, 29, 12215, 270, 52.65

    Their timelines are also very similar: probably the two best batsmen between 2002 and 2006, suffering long troughs thereafter. Hope that these two greats can produce some more brilliant innings to remember them by.

    • sashahs says:

      Yes i have also noticed the comparison between Dravid and Ponting. If you look closer theres only 100 runs that seprate rate them from scoring runs at number 3. Moreover if you look at the way they play their shots, its also very similiar, with both being great pullers and hookers, especially Ponting. Both always on teh front foot most of the time. The cover drive and ondrives resemble, including the flicks. Both dont really sweep and use there feet against the spinners, and also treat the short ball against the spinners in teh same manner, by backing away, and slapping it with the full face through the offside.

      Kallis is not in the league of those two, he is overated, and his also a bore to watch.

      • srbharadwaj says:

        I completely disagree with the last statement,
        Kallis is not at all a bore to watch, his cover drives, cut shots, pull shots, slog sweeps are as good as anybody, the way he tackled Harbhajan was a lesson to any batsman, and how can we forget the centuries in Cape Town which denied India a series win

        145 246 38 11947 201* 57.43

        If this stat and his batting style cant be compared to RD and Punter i don’t know what will, mind you even Kallis made his debut around the same time , and wait i haven’t even talked anything about his bowling and catching

        Kallis is a legend of this generation and is surely in the league of Dravid and Pointing.

      • sashahs says:

        Kallis, bowling and all his wickets he has is because of his longtivity. Jayasuria and Tendulkar have more than 150 ODI, wickets, but i wouldnt class them as genuine bowlers. Sammy is another case, he doesnt trouble batsmen, but just holds up an end, and gets wickets through mostly bad shots, same with Kallis. His bowling isnt going to scare anyone.

        Kallis it has to be said is not an attractive player to watch, he hasnt got the flair or elegance of Ponting and Dravid. And you can name me on one KALLIS innings away from home that he has played in which he has picked up the match from the scruff of the neck apart from Sydney where they drawed, like the way Dravid has on countless occasions like in Rawalpindi, Adelaide, Twice in Kingston, Headingly and Perth, all indian wins, in which Dravid was the centre of the wins.

        Kallis is a great cricketer, but i feel he is not in the same league as Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting, who have struggled overall in teh last 3-4 years, barring 2010 for RD. However they scored more runs, inparticular RD when conditions, pitches were harder to bat on, and bowlers were much better than now. Kallis is mounting up the runs against average bowling attacks like India, Pakistan in 2007, Zimbabwe, West Indies in South Africa, and New zealand.

      • srbharadwaj says:

        Regarding Kallis’ bowling :- who said his bowling ‘scares’ anyone , he is an effective one change or second change bowler, to be your side’s premier batsman/slip fielder and then to come in and bowl to take all those wickets is no child’s play, he was often the partnership breaker in the team and sometimes opened the bowling too, yes he holds up one end and get some ‘cheap’ wickets in between, but can you tell me ONE bowler who is like him? Heck!! Any captain would die to have such bowlers, bowlers who can get you 250 ‘cheap’ wickets as a first/second change

        Regarding Kallis’ flair and elegance :- Well to each his own, but after seeing the way he has played over the last 5 yrs especially in the shorter formats of the game, I think this is the first time I have heard someone say he doesn’t have elegance, please watch those cover drives and punches for elegance and those cuts, pulls, slog sweeps for the flair and tell me if you still don’t like it :)

        Regarding Kallis’ Batting :- People don’t recognize the crucial inngs played because we Indians don’t watch SA much, why go back to Sydney? his recent test series against us was phenomenal If not for him we would have won the series, that capetown inngs was right from the top drawer

        “Kallis is mounting up the runs against average bowling attacks like India, Pakistan in 2007, Zimbabwe, West Indies in South Africa, and New zealand.”

        Well I can only laugh at that statement, so according to you apart from Australia all other attacks are ‘average’ bowling ah’? and why pick and choose series like pak in 07 and WI in SA etc.. ? aren’t we talking about a whole career for players here? in that way Ricky is a complete FLOP and can’t be in any league because his record in India is a shame to say the least

        Look I have nothing against RD or RP, they are absolute class no doubt but if you want to put a league of great cricketers who bat at 3/4 and if that list doesn’t have Kallis, then its utter disrespect to one of the best SA batsman

  61. indresh47 says:

    Great article..Brilliant batting from Dravid

  62. I have felt the same watching Dravid, he is an epitome of common man’s life , who comes across failure and success after lots of struggles…..Work hard, fight to survive and get unnoticed like a wounded soldier……..
    He may not bring great joy, but definitely a sense of satisfaction, he is the only reason i am watching cricket, hope test cricket continues to survive even after these architects get out of the scene……

  63. Best article on Dravid so far, moved into tears on reading it……

  64. Abhishek says:

    Thank you for this blog post.

  65. An immense satisfaction.. as satisfying as the great man’s innings.. A ballad on the unsung hero.. my day is made!! Just how many times he will continue to do this.. the mind continues to boggle..

  66. ” It’s when he’s in a struggle that he’s in the zone.” sums up his attitude.

    well written about Dravid!

    Felt he was too eager to get out of the ground. Irresponsible shot. He could have scored at a better strike rate. After all the years of his struggle I expect him to master the bowling attacks like Laxman, Sachin, Sehwag. Alas! that is what makes me rate him lower than Sachin.

    I feel comments about Laxman’s ability to score on pitches where ball comes on to bat are ill-informed. His 96 in Durban recently is a good example of his skill on other pitches that you haven’t mentioned. Same can be said about comments on Sachin.

    To elevate Dravid’s struggle, one need not look down on others’ efforts.

    • A D says:

      Well..mastering the bowling attacks does not mean scoring at faster, with a higher strike rate and all that. Dravid has mastered the bowling attacks in a different way. He makes the bowlers bowl to where he wants. A bowler can afford to keep bowling outside the off stump to Sehwag because he knows that sooner or later, Sehwag’s patience will snap and he’ll poke/ fish at a widish delivery. Somewhat similar are the cases with Tendulkar and Laxman, but only that their patience levels are far higher than Sehwag’s.

      The fact that Dravid makes the bowlers feel that they are wasting their efforts by constantly going outside off stump, the fact that Dravid makes the bowlers feel the need to do something different like change their line or length and then capitalise when they err..these are the qualities that makes me rate him much higher than Sachin Tendulkar.

      As to Laxman’s abilities, neither do I agree with the author entirely about Laxman being a force only on flat tracks as his record on testing tracks and demanding situations are well documented. However, Laxman does enjoy batting beauties more than Dravid, which is what the author is trying to portray, if I’ve understood correctly.

      • I meant scoring at a better rate in this innings and not in general in his innings. Agree that his patience has rewarded him many times. It is always a pain for fast bowlers to run from a distance and watch their deliveries left by Dravid. It is fun to watch for us. His ability to score at a better rate is a concern for me. True that not all can score at same pace, but he significantly improved his strike rate in ODIs. He need not replicate that in tests but a marginal improvement doesn’t hurt our team as well!

        Sachin does it (making ‘bowlers feel they are wasting their efforts’) differently by taking on the opposition but has done it differently in Sydney (241). I wouldn’t get in to SRT vs Dravid debate here. May be for sure in an article that judges Dravid’s legacy.

        Agree with your views on Laxman stated here.

        I tried to look for more conclusive stats on strike rates for these three players. However, Laxman’s overall strike rate 7 runs (49.32) ahead of Dravid’s (42.36). Sachin’s strike rate isn’t mentioned at all! I admit that strike rate must not be a criteria for judging players in test matches. Personally for me, watching players score at a better strike rate is a good indicator for judging a player. However, many other factors (opposition, situation, batting with tail?) must be considered as well.

        Thank you for the views!

        Strange that I am not notified of comments to my post in WordPress. Always!

    • A D says:

      I wouldn’t get into a Sachin vs Dravid argument here because I feel it’s an utter waste of time and disgrace to both the players. Every team is made up of 11 different individuals who have a unique role to play in the team. As long as they play that role to perfection and help the team win games more often than lose, there cannot be any complaints. Dravid’s role is to anchor the innings and hold one end up while the others like Sehwag, Tendulkar, Laxman can play freely and score runs quickly with the assurance and comfort of having Dravid at one end. So no comparisons between players.

      But the point I was making about the strike rate is something different. Every time Dravid has batted slowly with a low strike rate, there has been ample time in the games. Headingly 2002 – there was a lot of time and Dravid ended up on 148. His slow batting ensured that by the time Tendulkar and Ganguly entered, the bowlers had given up hope and both could capitalise and pile on 193 and 128 respectively. India won the game. Adelaide 03-04 – end of Day 2, India were 85-4. Dravid batted slowly and ended up on 233 with India making 523 and conceding a lead of only 33 runs. What happened next is history. India won. Rawalpindi 04 – 270 at a strike rate of 54.54 is not too bad. These are just a few instances when Dravid has batted really slow but India have ended up on the winning side. Even in the game at Sabena Park, Jamaica, when Dravid came in, there was a lot of time in the match still left. It was just the second day. By being slow and cautious, he not only scored the runs but also ate up a lot of time which was very important. I cannot think of one game where India has lost due to Dravid’s slow batting.

      And since you have brought up the subject, India did not win the Sydney test when Tendulkar scored 241. Even on 3rd morning, Indians were batting in the 1st innings. And on 5th day, Australians saved the game with just 2 wickets in hand. If only Anil Kumble had a few more overs to bowl at them, who knows, India would have won their first ever series down under. So, slow batting and lower strike rate is not always bad in test cricket, especially if it can win you games. In that sense, Dravid’s slow batting has never been seen as a concern by anyone – not the team management, not the selectors, not the experts. But when the situation does demand, he can up the rate, and counterattack, this trait being on display against Sri Lanka in Ahmedabad in 09 when India were at 32-4 and Dravid hit 177 at a strike rate of 68. So Dravid can increase the strike rate when needed but with so much time left in the game, he prefers to settle down, eat up time and drive the bowlers to the edge to craziness and still leaves enough time to ensure that India wins.That kind of slow batting is actually good for the team.

      And this conversation is good too since it allows us to exchange views and opinions. Please keep them coming :)

      • A D says:

        When I say “I cannot think of one game where India has lost due to Dravid’s slow batting”, I mean either lost the game or lost the opportunity to win the game. Cheers

  67. rahulwebzone says:

    wow…beautifully scripted…

  68. Sharma says:

    absolutely brilliant

  69. What a champion. Can never say enough about Dravid, for that matter will never tire of reading about him either. Wonderfully written. Truly India’s greatest test batsman ever.

  70. Raji MKSamy says:

    Well written! Liked the last line and this one, the most – “If it’s a batting beauty with the ball coming on to the bat, give me Sehwag or Laxman; if there’s a truly great array of bowlers set to be unleashed, give me Tendulkar. If it’s a minefield, give me Dravid”

  71. T.Sundar says:

    Siddharth, I usually enjoy your writing a lot, but I think this time you let emotion overcome you. Yes, Dravid played well. Yes, he has played a number of such innings. But for the past 3 or 4 years, he’s been living on borrowed time and past glories. One stat illuminates this. He has averaged 39 in the past 36 tests. He has failed against every high quality and even medium quality bowling. He has scored this one century against the likes of Fidel Edwards, Rampaul and Bishoo and you say all the past failures are forgiven? Isn’t it time he accepts the facts and retires? Isn’t he selfishly blocking the way for a number of youngsters? He has played 150 test matches for heavens sake.

    He is sticking on solely because he wants to continue IPL. He knows that if he retires no club would want him. How much money is enough?

    And to say that Sehwag and Laxman are flat track bullies is taking adoration and hero worship of Dravid too far. If Dravid has won 25% of the matches those two have won for India, I’d admire him more. Most of Dravid’s big knocks have been in hopeless situations, when nothing is to be gained. Most of his knocks tend to end in draws because of the slowness of his scoring. If Sehwag and VVS are flat-track bullies, Dravid is the ultimate “lost cause” bully where India’s situation is hopeless and the opposition usually is resting the main bowlers and using part timers.

    And to top it all, he is the most BORING. Even Alistair Cook and Jonathan Trott are more entertaining!!!

    • Identityless says:

      Of Dravid’s 32 Test centuries, India has lost only one of those. India has won on 14 occasions when he scored a 100 and drew on 17 occasions. Perhaps you will reconsider your opinion that “Dravid’s big knocks have been in hopeless situations”.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sundar – I agree that Dravid is far from greatness, at time by pottering(Strong word though) around, jabbng outisde the off-stump.But the line “his big knocks have been in hopeless situations” just proves he is still considered as most underrated cricketer of the this era. Thanks

    • Vistasp Hodiwala says:

      Sundar, you make humungous errors of judgement with this statement:

      “If Dravid has won 25% of the matches those two have won for India, I’d admire him more. Most of Dravid’s big knocks have been in hopeless situations, when nothing is to be gained. Most of his knocks tend to end in draws because of the slowness of his scoring.”

      Let me correct you my man. There is no Test Batsman, not even SACHIN by far, who has made a bigger contribution to India wins than Rahul Dravid. He is so far ahead of the rest of the pack (and the amazing thing is that despite the 4 year slump, he still towers over every Indian TEST batsman in history) that a comparison is a joke. I give you some fairly comprehensive pieces here for your consideration about his career (if you are open minded enough to read it). If you still cannot believe it I guess you are another of those crazy Sachin fans who abound in our country.

      The first piece was written in 2007: http://www.holdingwilley.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=451

      But this is the real clincher: http://www.holdingwilley.com/thehwreport/
      and
      http://www.holdingwilley.com/thehwreport/dravid.php (This is not some random fly by night statistical fancy of a deranged fan but an extremely meticulously thought out ranking system that goes beyond just a crude measurement based on bald averages and strike rates.

      And if you are not satiated, maybe this cricinfo piece should do it for you: http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/current/story/520533.html

      The trouble with most people is that they see all sorts of cricket across formats and then forget who is great in what. If you are thinking ODIs, Sachin is the greatest ever. If you are thinking Tests, Sachin is still a phenomenon by any stretch of the imagination but if you are measuring greatness by the simple prism of an individual’s contribution in a team’s win, there is no Test Batsman in the history of Indian Cricket better than Rahul Dravid.

      One last word on the piece itself: It’s beautifully written, yes, but the romance of his struggle is just one dimension of his batting. Unfortunately, there is a lot of beauty, craft, guile and genius about his batting that nearly always gets overshadowed by writers who even celebrate him in prose. And the worst epithet in my opinion is “The Wall’. If you say, when there are a truly great set of bowlers set to be unleashed, give me Sachin. I guess I would settle for Dravid there as well. Because much as I love and admire Sachin and much as I respect his awesome talent (and only a fool will argue against that quantum of talent) and much as he is an absolute delight to watch, history has proved that on terrible wickets against the greatest of bowlers, Team India has been served even better by Rahul than Sachin. That’s a statement of fact. In fact, the next best contribution to India wins, if you must know, comes from Viru and not the Great Tendlya. Believe me if you can, that hurts me too, so what if I am a Dravid fan.

      • sidvee says:

        Re you point about great bowling attacks: I was merely stating a personal preference. I feel Dravid’s best comes out on a challenging pitch while Sachin’s best comes out against great bowling (of course both have done well against great bowling and poor pitches). Just as an experiment – note down your five greatest Dravid Test innings and five greatest Sachin Test innings. Then compare the bowling attacks. Let me know what you see.

    • A D says:

      Sundar..my honest opinion: I think you should stick to T20s and ODIs because from your statements, I get a feeling that Test cricket is not your cup of tea. No offence meant I’m sure you’d enjoy the shorter and shortest formats more as there is a lot more flamboyance and flair and it will not be BORING for you.

      And as to the statement “If Dravid has won 25% of the matches those two have won for India, I’d admire him more”, as others have already pointed out, since 2000, Dravid has won the most man of the match awards in all the away wins for India. Headingly, Adelaide, Rawalpindi, Jamaica & Jamaica. The other winners of MOM in away wins are SS Das (Bulawayo), Ganguly (Kandy), Laxman (Trinidad, Colombo & Durban), Sehwag (Multan, Galle), Irfan Pathan (Dhaka, Bulawayo, Harare & Perth), Sreesanth (Johannesburg), Zaheer (Mirpur, Nottingham & Mirpur), Tendulkar (Hamilton, Chittagong).

      As you can see, Dravid has not only won 25% of what Sehwag and Laxman have won for India, he has won as many matches for India as these two put together. Not to forget his crucial contribution of 93 in Perth.

      To conclude, I think you should stick to T20s and ODIs and leave the Test cricket to purists who prefer to watch a batsman leave the ball outside off stump by shouldering arms rather than try to smash it over point/ covers/ mid off for a boundary.

    • Deepak Rao says:

      Agree with you Sundar… But why only last 39 tests… Of his 32 test centuries, 4 and only 4 ie 4 in total… 4 in total home and away have come against SA and Aus, the best bowling attack of his time. 2 of those were when his partners scored 19 runs either side of 300, one was in 1996 and the other was against an attack of Nathan Bracken, Gilespie, Brad Williams (who?), Andy Bichel and Macgill. You take out the 600 odd runs he scored against aus in 2003/4 his average against aus dips into the low 20s

  72. Someshomeshj says:

    Impressive… makes you regard him more and more… amazingly, people still call him boring, slow and scorer in lost cause… the detractors shall never stop. and perhaps they shouldn’t… without them Dravid’s struggle would be boring… that’s where the mastery lies… he’s a survivor and he he should get a lot of credit that the Indian team survived the 2000s to become number 1 Test side…

  73. Like a typical Dravid innings this one was in the waiting…Awesome…brings me memories of your Kumble piece

  74. Sant Kulk says:

    Awesome blog Sid! Just opened a box of thoughts in my brain!

  75. Bhargav says:

    Outstanding article! I am stunned that some people still cannot see his value. I guess one needs to understand that saving a match is probably as or more critical than winning a match. But then, hail the naysayers. Its because of them that we see the gems that Dravid produces.

    • Vistasp Hodiwala says:

      The best part Bhargav is that he has actually won us more matches than anyone in India’s Test history. And yet…

  76. Anonymous says:

    A beaut!
    Sid sir- When we speak about Dravid’s struggle and his journey of mastering “IT”, we are constantly referring “IT” to batting skills only. But a part/aspect of his cricket career that we as fans conveniently ignore is his Captaincy. Though it was a short lived one(Yes i believe he killed it), it was significant considering the time at which he took over. Dada’s ego clashes with coach, GOD at his least best, Zak and Viru’s growing insecurities in the team were the some of them he had to correct.

    Being a Wall himself, he now had to construct other 3 sides to build a team. He soon discovered that he is not Dada. Atleast not in People management. Consider the scenarios viz.Persisiting with Viru when he was going through a lean patch period, Declaring the innings when Sachin needed just 6 runs, following Chappell’s decision of promoting Pathan as an allrounder, not enforcing England to follow-on and many more.

    I agreed with most(Not all) of the decisions that he took and genuinely feel that they are debatable.

    So, isn’t it important to shed some light on Dravid’s captaincy career?

  77. aakanksha says:

    if a reader faces goosebumps while reading something… it means.. its brilliance personified!

    three reasons: the subject taken….. the writing style adopted… the feelings!

  78. shekharonline says:

    Dravid is the anti-McGrath. Wah, that sums it all…..
    Of all the current Test Batting Great’s – VVS, SRT and SG – Dravid has had a place of his own… truely a master in this format of the game, and did better in T20’s too…

  79. Ramchandran.A. says:

    Nice article, well written… Rahul is a gentleman to the core. He can and will contribute more to
    Indian Cricket even after hanging his boots by means of administrator, Batting coach, ICC etc etc..
    Sometimes we get frustrated with his inability to score fast often comparing to Sach or Dada…but he
    remains the WALL for our batting order, the SPINAL cord….without which the team batting
    collapse. Remove him from the order and look at the insecurity one feels…HE IS A GIFT OF GOD to
    Indian Cricket..GO ON WALL !!!

  80. stunnin write up…keep goin…

  81. zincoshine says:

    I hope @sidvee biograph’s the cricketing life of Rahul Dravid someday :)!

  82. Vistasp Hodiwala says:

    Some poeple have made humungous errors of judgement with their statements: This to cite just one:

    “If Dravid has won 25% of the matches those two have won for India, I’d admire him more. Most of Dravid’s big knocks have been in hopeless situations, when nothing is to be gained. Most of his knocks tend to end in draws because of the slowness of his scoring.”

    There is no Test Batsman, not even SACHIN by far, who has made a bigger contribution to India wins than Rahul Dravid. He is so far ahead of the rest of the pack (and the amazing thing is that despite the 4 year slump, he still towers over every Indian TEST batsman in history) that a comparison is a joke. I give you some fairly comprehensive pieces here for your consideration about his career (if you are open minded enough to read it). If you still cannot believe it I guess you are another of those crazy Sachin fans who abound in our country.

    The first piece was written in 2007: http://www.holdingwilley.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=451

    But this is the real clincher: http://www.holdingwilley.com/thehwreport/
    and
    http://www.holdingwilley.com/thehwreport/dravid.php (This is not some random fly by night statistical fancy of a deranged fan but an extremely meticulously thought out ranking system that goes beyond just a crude measurement based on bald averages and strike rates.

    And if you are not satiated, maybe this cricinfo piece should do it for you: http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/current/story/520533.html

    The trouble with most people is that they see all sorts of cricket across formats and then forget who is great in what. If you are thinking ODIs, Sachin is the greatest ever. If you are thinking Tests, Sachin is still a phenomenon by any stretch of the imagination but if you are measuring greatness by the simple prism of an individual’s contribution in a team’s win, there is no Test Batsman in the history of Indian Cricket better than Rahul Dravid.

    One last word on the piece itself: It’s beautifully written, yes, but the romance of his struggle is just one dimension of his batting. Unfortunately, there is a lot of beauty, craft, guile and genius about his batting that nearly always gets overshadowed by writers who even celebrate him in prose. And the worst epithet in my opinion is “The Wall’. If you say, when there are a truly great set of bowlers set to be unleashed, give me Sachin. I guess I would settle for Dravid there as well. Because much as I love and admire Sachin and much as I respect his awesome talent (and only a fool will argue against that quantum of talent) and much as he is an absolute delight to watch, history has proved that on terrible wickets against the greatest of bowlers, Team India has been served even better by Rahul than Sachin. That’s a statement of fact. In fact, the next best contribution to India wins, if you must know, comes from Viru and not the Great Tendlya. Believe me if you can, that hurts me too, so what if I am a Dravid fan.

  83. Srikanth says:

    Beautiful articulation. A fitting tribute to a masterful genius.

  84. parthjoshith says:

    a lovely read… don’t you think the ‘understated’ or the ‘unsaid’ is often a much coveted return of the ‘perseverant’ player in any sport… wouldn’t a player like dravid be more happy with the ‘never deservedly praised’ tag rather than being overhauled with plaudits….

  85. Arun Raghu says:

    Nice article, Dravid is truly the “Unsung Hero” of Cricket. Often over shadowed by heroics of others, still he stood tall among the rest. Hope people understand Dravid’s contribution to Indian cricket.

  86. Kuber Chopra says:

    It actually hurts me this working class interpretation of Cricket.
    Anybody who has played the game and idolised Dravid would appreciate the sheer beauty of a good leave right on top of offstump, the classy square cut and those well timed on drives.
    Calling it a struggle is only a sign of the times where success in Test cricket is measured with the same scales as limited over formats. As well meaning as the article is, it is as wrong as the nick name “Wall” is.
    It undermines the adaptable nature of Dravid’s game, makes him single diensional and boring. None of which he is. What he is, is an intelligent cricketer unlike Sehwag who is sheer talent dare i say a bit think in the head too. Dravid is an out an out team man who has won test matches and perhaps important series for India, especially abroad.
    With the wickets around the world becoming easier and bowling attacks less potent i would like to argue that the master class that Dravid is comes to the fore ever so often.
    It is the sheer frivolity of a 6 and 4 that is always in focus, doesnt matter the situation.
    Nice attempt.

    • liberalcynic says:

      Couple of things. There is some truth to the idea that Dravid’s talent is best seen while besting extremely tough batting conditions. As far as Sehwag is concerned, while I agree that he is immensely talented, he’s definitely backing it up with hard work and thinking. Passing 290 three times in test cricket is not possible without being a little cerebral about the game. Methinks you’re being a tad dismissive of Sehwag

    • venkatreddyblogs says:

      I am sorry to be starting a discussion about Sehwag on a blog post about Dravid, but to say that Sehwag is unintelligent is, well, unintelligent I suppose. Watch the way he works the bowlers and how he makes the most of his limited technique and you will understand how intelligent he is.

  87. Gowtham says:

    a nice article

  88. liberalcynic says:

    I like the batting metronome concept! I agree that Dravid’s talent is not in making hay while the sun shines. He actually needs the conditions to be a little tough. Nicely put. There is some masochism in wanting the ball to jump at you from a tough pitch.

  89. T.Sundar says:

    Thanks for all your replies. It woke up the competitive statistician in me so I decided to check out comparative stats for the 4 greats in the modern era, Tendulkar, Dravid, Viru and VVS (As you can see, I agree that Dravid is one of the greats. It’s just when people say he’s the only match-winner or that he’s the greatest that I take offense). And Vistap, I’m a Tendulkar fan, but not a devotee by any means. So you can take that argument off the table.

    To use a statistics term, parameters like winning % (% of batsman in matches when the team has won) may imply “correlation but not causation”. It means the batsman played a part, but was he the sole cause of it? It may be that 4 batsman may have scored big centuries in the only innings played by their team; and assuming one bowler took 11 wickets in the match, who was the match winner? The Eng-WI Oval 1976 is a typical example; King Viv scored 292, “Silent Death” Holding takes 14 wickets. Who won the match for WI? In my opinion, it’s Holding, because Eng would’ve drawn the match without him. Another example is “THE” test match for Indian fans – India vs Aus eden gardens 2001; VVS scores the immortal 281, Dravid his career rescuing 148. Harbhajan takes 13 wickets. Try to pick the match winner out of them.

    Also, we should have two separate statistics for Indian batsman in the modern era of bowling paucity. One against the traditionally better bowling attacks of Aus, SA, Eng and Pakistan. And the other against the others.

    So I decided to look up statsguru for scores of these 4 players against the above mentioned 4 teams in matches that India won. I’ve reproduced the actual statistics at the bottom, but here are some interesting observations.

    Let’s consider scores of 50+ by the fab four. I don’t want to score only centuries because the batting position plays a role here. VVS being in No 6 has more often than not played with tail in these matches. Dravid has 17 (6 centuries/11 half centuries), VVS has 18 (3/15), Viru has 10 (2/8) and Tendulkar has 23 (9/14). Granted, Viru’s is a little bit poorer than I thought, but he’s still got a fair bit of his career in front of him. Taken in totality, they all average about the same in these matches; VVS towers over everybody else against SA, but he has had a modest hand against Eng. Viru is phenomenal against his favorite enemy, Pak; And Tendulkar and Dravid have similar averages against SA and Aus. Dravid is much better against Pak and Tendulkar way ahead against Eng.

    These statistics actually do a little bit of disservice to Tendulkar; He’s played some memorable innings against these 4 teams – vs Eng in 1990 for ex, vs Aus 1991/92, even 1999/2000 Aus series in Australia, where he was phenomenal and Dravid was a total flop. But these matches are discounted in my statistics because India hardly won anything prior to 2000/2001; One exception is against Aus in India in 1998 but the Dravid and Laxman were part of those wins as well.

    This analysis will hopefully demolish the ridiculous assertions that Dravid has won more matches off his own bat, that Tendulkar hasn’t contributed much to India’s victories etc.. And hopefully it’ll also show how much of an injustice against VVS and Viru are statements like Vaidyanathan’s that those two are flat track bullies.

    I have a suspicion that if we do a similar statistical analysis over the last 3 or 4 years (since 2007 when Dravid resigned his captaincy) it’ll show Dravid in a much poorer light. He’s been really struggling in this period, but has still retained the “greatness” tag. Tendulkar was mercilessly criticized when he went through a similar but much shorter phase in 2006/2007. If Dravid played for any other team than the hero-worshipping India, he’d have been cast aside and forced to retire around 2008/2009.

    Here’s my prediction. Dravid is going to come a cropper against England this summer, but he’ll survive and still be a part of the team for another year at the least because of his success against WI in the current series – what are the odds against him scoring centuries in both innings in the 2nd test – and all his past failures would’ve been swept aside. And talented youngsters will have to wait their turn till he decides he’s made all the money he can or the selectors and the public decide enough is enough.

    Team/Matches Won/Total Runs/Highest/Centures/Half centuries
    =============================================
    DRAVID VVS SEHWAG TENDULKAR
    South Africa 6 355 80 35.50 0 2 6 528 143* 66.00 1 4 5 387 165 43.00 1 1 6 381 106 38.10 1 1
    Australia 12 1137 233 63.16 2 7 9 1077 281 71.80 2 8 7 575 92 41.07 0 4 12 1215 214 60.75 4 6
    England 5 426 148 71.00 1 2 4 138 54 27.60 0 1 3 187 83 46.75 0 2 8 819 193 91.00 3 4
    Pakistan 5 655 270 81.87 3 0 5 245 72* 40.83 0 2 3 405 309 101.25 1 1 5 391 194* 65.16 1 3

    • srikanth says:

      I’m re-reading this article in August 2012 (for the nth time! thanks sidvee!) and how ridiculous does the above comment now sound! Dravid flourished in England, while the rest of the batsmen floundered. He then failed in Australia (when again the rest of the team struggled) and announced his retirement with grace. Truly a great sportsman and a great team man.

  90. T.Sundar says:

    Sorry, the formatting for the stats got messed up. Here it is.

    DRAVID
    ——————————————
    South Africa 6 355 80 35.50 0 2
    Australia 12 1137 233 63.16 2 7
    England 5 426 148 71.00 1 2
    Pakistan 5 655 270 81.87 3 0

    TENDULKAR
    ——————————————
    South Africa 6 381 106 38.10 1 1
    Australia 12 1215 214 60.75 4 6
    England 8 819 193 91.00 3 4
    Pakistan 5 391 194* 65.16 1 3

    VVS
    ——————————————
    South Africa 6 528 143* 66.00 1 4
    Australia 9 1077 281 71.80 2 8
    England 4 138 54 27.60 0 1
    Pakistan 5 245 72* 40.83 0 2

    SEHWAG
    ——————————————
    South Africa 5 387 165 43.00 1 1
    Australia 7 575 92 41.07 0 4
    England 3 187 83 46.75 0 2
    Pakistan 3 405 309 101.25 1 1

    • Raju says:

      This is called “suiting your requirements”. Bend and amend stats in such a way that your point holds good. Why only those 4 teams? As if other 3 guys didn’t get to play against 6 other teams!

    • ghostkadost says:

      Hi,

      Some years back I had also dug my way through statsguru database. And this was the result https://fursatmein.wordpress.com/2009/12/06/being-a-robin/

      Admittedly last 3 years have been a toil for Dravid. But then the younger lot has not exactly set the field on fire when given an opportunity. Why should Dravid be blamed for that?

  91. Usha says:

    beautifully written Siddhu!

  92. T.Sundar says:

    Guys, I don’t have to analyze Dravid’s form in the last 4 years. Mr. S.Rajesh of cricinfo.com has done it with great clarity and detail. Please see his article “Welcome back Rahul Dravid” http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/520533.html

    I rest my case. It boggles my mind that people are still rooting for his continuing to be in the team. Even in the just concluded first test against WI, Sammy put down the sitter from Dravid when he was on 6.

    Ricky Ponting has had a poor 18 months and people are calling for his head. The tags like match-winner, champion, big match player etc fit him much, much more readily than Dravid.

    • sidvee says:

      Sundar. My piece was about Dravid’s craft rather than the debate about whether he should have been in the team or not. And I would think that the fact that he won India a Test (when the rest failed around him in the second innings) answers some doubts. But again, that’s not even a point I was making. Also, I was talking about my personal preference for seeing Laxman and Sehwag on pitches where the ball comes on to the bat (now that doesn’t mean I’m saying they’re flat-track bullies; it just means I like watching them on certain pitches).

  93. T.Sundar says:

    Quote from Rajesh’s article. Shame on Dravid that he’s still playing. Shame on the selectors that they haven’t questioned his place. Shame on people like Sidharth Vaidyanathan who propagate the myth that he’s still India’s biggest match winner, who, in their hero worshipping frenzy, belittle titans like Tendulkar, VVS and Sehwag.
    ————————————————————————————–

    A comparison between his numbers during these four-and-a-half years and the previous such period brings out the stark contrast in his overseas numbers. There isn’t much to choose between his home stats, but on tours his average between 2002 and 2006 was more than twice his recent average. In 30 overseas Tests then he scored ten centuries; now it reduced to two from 26, and even those two hundreds came in Bangladesh. In fact, the last time Dravid scored an overseas hundred against a team other than Bangladesh was on India’s last tour to the West Indies five years ago, when he made 146 in St Lucia. Since then he went 47 innings without a hundred, which is an awfully long time for a batsman of his class.

    • venkatreddyblogs says:

      What are you on about? Even during the 2005-06 period it was the tabloid media that was calling for Sachin’s head. Most of us were not sure whether this was a terminal decline or a temporary blip. And in Sachin’s case he was given his chances because the selectors were quite sure that he will come good sooner rather than later. So for you to say that Sachin was “mercilessly criticized” is going too far. With regards to Dravid, granted he has had a couple of bad years. But which batsmen doesn’t? And our IPL legends are nowhere close to challenging his number three slot. And here is the thumb rule you work with, in winning teams, people are given a much longer rope than in losing teams. Look around the world you will find examples. Stuart Broad is one that readily comes to my mind. And Dravid, by the way, has been picked for days like wednesday. The selectors know that given the moment Dravid is good enough to step up. We don’t need elegant numbers to prove one thing or the other. Yes we love Sachin but we don’t need numbers to prove/disprove that Sachin is greater or lesser than Dravid. That is a debate for another time and another place

      • T.Sundar says:

        I am aghast. So it’s acceptable for an international player to continuously not perform for 4 years and still have no worries about his place in the team? It’s closer to four years, by the way, not two as you mentioned. If you read Rajesh’s article I quoted from earlier, you will see that. If you say yes, my only response would be that it can happen only in cricket, and only in India. Stuart Broad has not performed for 10 tests. Dravid hasn’t for the past 40, except those two against Bangladesh as S. Rajesh points out.

        As I mentioned earlier, Ricky Ponting hasn’t scored a century in the last 15 tests or so and he is fighting for his cricketing life.

        This is exactly the mindset that ruined Indian cricket in the 70s through 90s. Once guys got in, they stayed there irrespective of their performance. Genuinely talented players never got a chance. It was a closed club, not a team, with all the senior/junior ranks and hierarchies. You know what, that trusted and tried method will still do a great job of ruining this fine team as well.

        How do you know how good the emerging players are unless you try them? As Subramanian Badri said a while ago, let’s at the least give them a chance to fail. Who knew Dravid, Ganguly and VVS would be so good back in 1996?

        One thing is for sure; none of the new breed would do as bad over the next four years as Dravid has done for the last four.

      • venkatreddyblogs says:

        Mate Stuart Broad averages something like 36 or 37 as a test match bowler. So it is not ten test matches but a whole career that we are talking about. In Australia, Ponting has earned the right to a few more chances. That is because he has 12,000 test runs. Someone with 12,000 test runs succeeds in most conditions against most teams. Which is why he got another chance (or a few more chances). I will grant you the fact that Dravid has not scored for three seasons now. So what? And Dravid is contributing in other areas (slip catching more specifically). My larger point is when you have got the weight of 12000 test runs and about 200 slip catches you earn the right to go out on your terms. Dravid is a top man. He will never hang around when he is not wanted. And by the way, the IPL legends have all got their chances against a lightweight such as WI. What did they do? Kohli seemed like he was auditioning for some dance show when Fidel Edwards was giving him a working over. Vijay is wasting his talent. Mukund is not the finished article ( another example of Ranji raja’s not stepping up. No disrespect by the way.)Atleast Vijay and Mukund have earned their right to these chances, Raina has to do a lot more in the Ranji before he can stake a claim to a test spot. And your accusation that this team resembles a boys club is again a little stupid. Teams world over want consistency in selection and they are prepared to give their proven performers a long rope. This has been the norm for more than a decade. Remember Mark Taylor’s woeful run of form. Don’t know the exact number of matches but he had gone something like three years without a test hundred. And that was the time when players like Jamie Siddons and the rest were scoring runs for fun in the shield. So for you to say that this is a boys club borders on the ludicrous.

  94. “…………..If it’s a batting beauty with the ball coming on to the bat, give me Sehwag or Laxman; if there’s a truly great array of bowlers set to be unleashed, give me Tendulkar. If it’s a minefield, give me Dravid”

  95. T.Sundar says:

    Sorry Siddhartha. that came out much stronger than I intended; but the fact still remains Dravid had been a “has been” for some time now. And the fact he has given no indication as to whether he’s even thinking about retirement is very selfish of him and a great injustice to emerging talent. Think back to 1996; if the likes of Sidhu, Manjrekar etc had been hanging on to dear life back then, we may not have given Dravid and Ganguly a chance.

    My whole point is that Dravid has been an exceptional player for a long time, has had a massive hand in many fine victories; It’s time now to tell him “Thank you and good luck with the rest of your life!”.

  96. Vistasp Hodiwala says:

    Kuber, my point exactly, thank you.

    Sundar, I don’t think you have gone through the links I posted with any degree of patience. Cause if you had you would not have quoted the same bald stats again. Impact Index is a far more quantifiable system to measure a player’s greatness and it does it with a degree of exactness that cannot be achieved by following stats as they have been followed traditionally. Be that as it may, my point rests. I have no quarrel with you on his last 3 years but the jury is out on the England tour. Let’s wait and watch while that unravels.

    • T.Sundar says:

      Vistap, I did go through your links. I wasn’t too impressed with the impact index. For one thing, it’s very subjective. You can’t put a number on an abstract parameter like impact of an individual player on a team sport. For another, it doesn’t take into account the opposing team’s bowling strength.

      Can you elaborate on what you mean by “bad stats”? I looked at the comparative averages of the four players in all the matches India won, against the best four attacks going around. Why is that bad? Is it because it disproves your preconceived notions of Dravid?

      Again, if you look at the last four years, his numbers would stack much more poorly against the other 3.

  97. nitinnagori says:

    Sid : Poetic!!Hats off to you!!
    Sundar: I guess it was Dravid’s last chance in WI. If he had failed he wold have been knocked out automatically. He is the best option available at number 3 spot when the ball moves a bit more.By wasting time he actually helps others to score.Most of the long partnerships include Dravid. He is a team man but surely he should perform in England tour to continue.

  98. Balaji Dasarath says:

    Aptly named – “The Wall ”
    “When the doors of the temple are closed,Even GOD is behind the WALL”

  99. Vistasp Hodiwala says:

    Sundar, I am surprised you say this: Here it is from another part of the website The parameters: So, to recap our parameters once again, for the ranking.

    Overall consistency.
    Performances abroad.
    Performances in matches won.
    Match-winning ability.
    Match situations in good performances. Ability to contribute under pressure.
    http://www.holdingwilley.com/thehwreport/rationale.php

    In fact not only does it take into account the quality of the opposition, it takes into account the pitches, the match situation and the winning contribution. Precisely why I think the bland stats don’t reveal much. This system too may not be perfect but it is possibly the most scientific one in the world today. It was unveiled in the ICC centenary conference and has the backing of the best statisticians in the cricketing world. In fact the system has been perfected even better for ODIs now as can be seen here: http://www.impactindexcricket.com/ where Sachin is King and rightfully so.

    I have no bias about Dravid, Sundar and like I said I take your point about his last few years but to deny him his pre-eminence in Test Cricket despite the career run he has had is inexplicable to me.

    • T.Sundar says:

      Vistap, no offense meant, but holdingwilley is a bunch of bs. They are dravid fan club masquerading as inventors of a new analytical methodology. Or to be more precise, they are Karnataka cricket fan club. (Before you jump on me for being biased against karnataka, I’m from bangalore :-) According to them the four greatest ever cricketers are Dravid, Kumble, Viswanath and Srinath. Sehwag is a distant second and everybody else, including Sachin, are mediocre at best. I concede that I’ve no fight with them about Dravid and Kumble, they are all-time greats. But Vishwanath and Srinath? Come on!!!

      They make this great claim about the 5 parameters up top, but there is no mention about how or what methodology they used to assess performances based on those parameters. Let’s take “Ability to contribute under pressure”. Apparently, the only way to measure it is if the batsman scored to avoid collapses. There is no definition of what a collapse is. Now, considering Dravid comes in at no 3, every substantial score he makes gets marked as performing under pressure because he avoided a collapse!!! Let’s say India lose Gambhir against Bangladesh on a shirt front. If Dravid and Sehwag score 50 each, they’ve both scored half centuries under “tremendous pressure” because they avoided a collapse!! God, how noble of them.. Now, let us assume India lose Sehwag at 132, Tendulkar comes in and scores a century, it doesn’t matter because he wasn’t avoiding a collapse, according to these geniuses. As I mentioned, bunch of bs.

      There is no rating on opposition bowling strength anywhere.
      They make these lofty statements up top. One of them is that batting averages don’t matter, only those made for winning causes matter. If you take that as a sole criterion, of course Tendulkar is going to suffer because India did not WIN A SINGLE TEST against a major opposition outside India for the first 13 years of his career. It seems mind boggling now, but it is true. From 1989 till Aug 2002 headingly test, India didn’t win a single test match against SA, Aus, Eng, NZ and Pak away. (Btw, Tendulkar scored 193 in that victory, but nobody remembers it or Ganguly’s 128 because Dravid scored 148 at no 3.)

      Tendulkar played 36 of those matches, scored 11 centuries, had an average of 51, played some remarkable and legendary innings, but none went towards victory. Because India was such pathetic and perennial losers before Ganguly took over. Imagine what that does to his winning %. Dravid and Laxman came of age only in the 2000s and by then India had started cultivating winning habit under Wright/Ganguly. By the way, do you remember the 1999 series down under? Aus were probably at the peak of their bowling potency then. McGrath at his peak, Gillespie, Fleming, Brett Lee’s debut series. Tendulkar was regal, magnificent among the ruins. Everybody else was horrible, including Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman. VVS redeemed himself a bit with that 174 at sydney of course. But my point is, individual statistics in a team game can be sliced and diced any way you want to support your preconceived notions. Which, I am sad to say, is exactly what holdingwilley.com has done.

      I still think my chart at the end of my first response, which measures averages of the 4 players against the 5 strong bowling attacks away from home, is a valid comparison tool. That chart more or less paints a similar picture of the 4 greats. You still haven’t told what your objection to that is.

  100. Pramod Nayak says:

    Great article… Loved it..

  101. Parikshit Kulkarni says:

    The post is ‘Dravid, in a nutshell’ .. brilliant.
    My only fervent hope is that the Youngsters (including Dhoni) in this Indian team who’ll someday become regulars recognise (atleast personally, in their own minds) the value of this man – the one solid brick in the foundation laid of the current No. 1 team in test cricket – & carry him on their shoulders when he sees the sun set for the last time from a cricket pitch. The then Indian team & we all owe him this honour.

  102. abhimanyu says:

    Read the article thrice. Awesome.

  103. pankaj says:

    Really well written!

  104. Sid says:

    Sundar shows how you cover malice with stats – and getting it wrong. He has judged RD in his Kangaroo court – and been judge, jury and prosecutor all rolled into one! Look at how many of Dravid’s centuries have been in winning causes and losing causes and you will have the answer to his invaluable contribution to indian cricket. Barring an average 2007 & 2008, he has made many a celebrated and publicity focused cricketers blush with his technique!
    Sid

  105. Sid says:

    Now Sundar says – you should give Badri 4 years to fail because Dravid averaged lower than his usual high standards between 2007 and 2010.

  106. Pingback: Rahul Dravid: India’s Gregory Peck | IPL Online

  107. Vistasp Hodiwala says:

    I don’t have much to say now Sundar because there are glaring inaccuracies in what you say right from the beginning and in your assessment of their methodology. I have been following HW for a while now and not once have I ever got the feeling they are a Bangalore Fan Club as you mentioned. I mean what part of the site makes you say that because I have pretty much read everything there ever since its inception. In any case, we are going around in circles. I deliberately put up the ODI site to help everyone understand the rigour that has gone into it. Almost every single overseas victory can be attributed to Dravid and Sehwag, the stats are THAT clear. The reason why Ganguly/Wright had that run in the first place was because of these two. I am not discounting the Bowlers’ contribution. You need 20 wickets at all times, but of course; but try winning without making those runs. Sachin’s third and fourth innings contribution in winning causes is a glaring omission in an otherwise glittering career. The man has at least tried to make serious amends in the last three years on that front but one has to be very, very generous to complete overlook this anomaly in the great master that he undoubtedly is. Sehwag, in my book will go down as an even bigger cricketer than these two by the end of his career if he continues in this vein but at the moment I think I will rest my case in favour of Rahul.

  108. Vikram says:

    Loved the article..especially the ‘batting metronome’. Must say haven’t any other legendary batsmen known for leaving the ball and being classy at it too , the picture in the article says it all !

  109. Vikram says:

    There was a time in between 2004 and 2007 when VVS was the ultimate batsmen on snake pit pitches. I’m specifically talking about the Mumbai test vs Aus in 2004 and the Kanpur test vs SA in 2008. I personally think VVS responds better to pressure situations, when the chips are down and he has to trust the tailenders for keeping the innings going, than Dravid or Tendulkar or Sehwag. Dravid is a better player of pace bowling on crumbling or swinging pitches than of spin bowling. Jo’burg ’96, Headingly ’02Jamaica ’06 come to mind. Show me one innings where Dravid has done great against spin bowling on a cumbling pitch? Dravid generally hasn’t been as dominant or great against the best spinners of the world as the other 3 or even Ganguly. The argument to support Dravid might be that he has been very good in the 3rd and 4th innings of Test matches. That we have to give him but VVS has been as good if not better than Dravid. But Dravid’s mastery of the crumbling pitch against fast bowling is downright sick. Seeing Tendulkar hop around vs Steyn in Durban ’10 was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I had my chops licking thinking of what the contest might’ve been if Dravid was in the same situation at the peak of his powers.

    Finally Sidvee I had an eerie feeling of reading Nirmal Sekhar writing about Steve Waugh circa 2001 to 2004 when I was reading the whole article. Its almost like the reincarnation of Nirmal Sekhar. God Bless Sidvee!!!

  110. Amit says:

    Beautifully written.

  111. Nayak says:

    Dear Siddharth,
    This is the first time I am reading any of your – shall I say – compositions, and I am overwhelmed by a. the underlying knowledge of the game, which is the first requirement of great sports writing; b. the deep love for Indian cricketers which is the stimulus for this piece.
    One cant write well about people, even eulogies, if one doesnt LOVE them, a luxury sadly not given enough to Indian cricketers. Yes, they have adulation, hero worship, success and money and fame, but serious love? Like we love our family members? Nope. And that love emerges from your piece.
    If I might make a suggestion. A poem or something about Laxman’s slip catching perhaps – the quality , not necessarily quantity -so that the vast masses who repeat cliches about Laxman being a poor fielder will open their understanding to what they see rather than what they hear? I remember live Ian Chapell saying that for him, the three greatest slip fielders were ‘ Dravid, Warne and Taylor, in that order.’ We were shocked. No Mark Waugh? Or even better, Carl Hooper, who ACTUALLY TOOK SLIP CATCHES IN SLOW MOTION? Well, I hazard some Laxman slip catches were beyond spectacular. Maybe you could describe Laxman’s top five slip catches in a way only you can.

    Best regards.

  112. Srikanth says:

    Wonderfully written Sid. I like pretty much the whole article but especially the way you liken the struggle to everyday living. Very true. And some nice humour thrown in as well – it is almost insulting if Dravid knows how the pitch is gonna play – ha :)

    Keep writing .. it’s a pleasure to read pieces like these. I dont need to say anything about a GREAT player like Rahul Dravid, i am a mere mortal who admires his greatness.

  113. A D says:

    After I had replied to one of the posts here, I realised that there was a lot more written by the same person to whom I had replied. And there were some serious arguments as well. After reading through them all, I realised how futile was my attempt to reply to the person in question.

    Mr. Sundar has just gone on and on with just one theme – Dravid should retire. Why did no one ask Sachin Tendulkar to retire when he went through a bad patch between 2004-2007? That apart, who is Mr. Sundar or who are we all to tell Dravid when he should retire? He will play as long as he wants. If the selectors/ team management decides that he’s not good enough, drop him and move on. Why wait for him to “Retire” officially? There are loads of players who never officially retired. Sidhu, Manjrekar (the names mentioned somewhere above) never officially retired. They were just dropped. So the idea of general public that one has to retire officially to leave them out of the team is completely incorrect. The fact is that the selectors are yet to find a replacement for Dravid. Until then, any amount of ranting will be just that – ranting. It’ll make no difference in the thinking of selectors and team management. And it definitely and absolutely makes no difference to Rahul Dravid himself.

    Cheers and good day to all :)

    That said, I guess it’s impossible to even talk to people some people as they are never really open to ideas and have no tolerance towards opinions of other people. They just go on ranting the same theme over and over again, until others realise that it’s plain useless to even bother to talk to them and just ignore them. I’m also a little surprised that there still are people who will go into other people’s blogs and keep ranting, there by spoiling the original intention of the blog. “If you don’t like it, don’t read. Just leave” is my mantra while dealing with such people but Siddharth has a slightly different take on such people so, it’s ok.

  114. Deepak Rao says:

    Sid, All said and done, he has 4 test centuries – that is 4 in total home and away against the best bowling attack of his generation – SA and Aus

  115. In awe of his mastery of something we all try and run away from: Struggle.

  116. Brilliant Article – enjoyed reading!

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  120. Awesome article! Very well written!
    “Dravid is the anti-McGrath. A batting metronome.”
    That sentence says it all. Great player and great article!

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  122. Kahnu Sahoo says:

    He is the real Hero of Indian Cricket.

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  127. beautifully written! the best tribute ive read

  128. Pingback: Rahul Dravid- India’s very own Samwise Gamgee | //CG.

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  130. Ramya says:

    Awesome write up…

  131. Pingback: Scottie Pippen “Second Banana” Syndrome « Tribute To Dravid

  132. Sid says:

    “When I see Dravid bat, I think of our daily lives, the frustrations we endure. I think of how we struggle through the mundane: paying bills, shopping for groceries, standing in long queues, cleaning utensils, vacuuming. I think of how we go through days at work, bogged down by clerical chores, stuck in pointless meetings, often accomplishing tasks that we least enjoy. I think of our silly struggles and how we’re often overpowered by them.”

    Thank you Sid V. For renewing my faith in the struggle (including my own). And for giving me hope. The Dravid way.

  133. sushant rawat says:

    i always stopped when someone asked me why i am dravid fans evnthough i loved football…but thanks fr sharing u r view on one of the greatest sportperson(for me he is).

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