Rahul Dravid: style and substance personified
By Woorkheri Raman
Rahul Dravid, the stylish batsman from Karnataka is undoubtedly the mainstay of the Indian batting line-up. The vice-captain had to shoulder the extra burden in the absence of the little master Tendulkar and he did it with aplomb in the recent series against Sri Lanka. There was some talk of him taking over the mantle of captaincy from Ganguly, but Dravid is one who hardly gets ruffled by events occurring around him. Such is the maturity and attitude of this determined cricketer whose main priority is to accumulate runs. Of course, one cannot rule out the fact that captaining the Indian team must figure somewhere at the back of his mind for he is capable of dealing with it as and when it comes to him. It is a reflection of the man's character that he will not work behind the scenes for captaincy.
In fact, he is likely to take over from Ganguly if the selectors decide to make a change. Dravid is a good reader of the game and has the experience of leading teams at various levels. I first came across him when he was leading the India under-19 against Tamil Nadu in the Buchi Babu invitation tournament. Though the budding youngsters were no match for the star studded Tamil Nadu side, the attitude of Dravid was apparent. He refused to throw his wicket away even when there was nothing left in the match. Though he was subjected to some gamesmanship, he remained resolute at the crease.
Dravid was always rated as a top-notch prospect and so much so that the selectors were waiting to just pick him in the national side. The vagaries of this great game had a different script for Dravid, as he somehow could not get going in the first Ten Duleep trophy games. It was probably during this period that his anxiety to do well partially contributed to his ordinary performances. In retrospect this meant that he went through the rough grind which made him tougher unlike some batsmen who were drafted in far too soon and struggled to come to terms with international cricket.
Dravid's ability to learn quickly is one reason why he has become such a major force in international cricket. The moment he was picked for India, he decided that he had to make minor changes in his batting to succeed at the top level. For instance, he was not a very good player of the horizontal bat shots like the pull and the cut. Realising that these shots have to be worked upon because the quicker bowlers rarely give fuller length deliveries, he practised and started playing these shots with good results. But it has to be borne in mind that he still remains a predominant front foot player (which he always was) though that has drawn a bit of criticism from some experts.
The most remarkable quality about Dravid is his attitude towards the game and his team. He always turns up to play matches for the teams that he normally is associated with despite the plethora of international cricket. Quite obviously, he understands the importance of keeping himself fit through playing matches whenever possible. Dravid has remained a team man to the core right from the start and never complained about being shuttled from one number to another in the batting order. He simply believes that a batsman should be ready to bat at anywhere in the order. This also is an indication of his clarity in thinking. No wonder batting looks less complicated when he is in full flow.
He is modest enough to consider that he is privileged to play alongside Tendulkar though his contributions are in no way trivial to the cause of the team. Dravid is graceful in more ways than one and youngsters cannot be faulted if they try and emulate this levelheaded and genial professional.