Memories of My-Mister-Nice-Guy
The world is abuzz with the news about the retirement plans of Rahul Dravid from test cricket. When he hung his boots from ODIs some time ago, I was not so moved. After all, ODIs have never been his cup of tea. Also, I believed his time-out from tests was a long way to come. Alas, I was wrong. And how! Had I known that the time would come as early as now, I would have been prepared with scores of hand-kerchiefs and rolls of tissues . As I watch and read tributes after tributes hailing the great man, I am overwhelmed with emotion beyond belief.
From the chocolate boy Jammy to being the go-to-boy of being the Wall, Rahul has been there for us. Every single time. Like every other crazy teenager, the door to my room was beautified with a perpetual Rahul Dravid poster on the outside. I have even gone to the extent of telling my close friend that the CH looks like my Mr. Nice Guy from one angle and that is the sole reason behind me agreeing to enter into wed-lock with him. Yes, sometimes, I can be that naive.
From the day, I began following cricket, he has been my hero. I am not a nuance-knowing-cricket-fan. I’ve never known the intricacies of the game. Then, he has been a one-stop-cricket-rule-book in a human form.
Even until today, I refer to my brother on any technicalities that the game has to offer. ‘Look at Rahul’s wrist’, he would say. ‘Can you see the slight wrist movement? That is called a flick. This comes only to a select few.’ Replay after replay, my eyes would be fixed on his wrist. ‘Watch his left foot move. This is the work of a genius.’ And my eyes would be glued-on to his feet. ‘That is called an off-side hook. It comes after years of practice.’ An off-side hook, my mind would register.
How do you feel when you go through a neatly written, grammatically perfect, well-meaning essay come from a high-school kid? That is how I feel every time I watch Rahul play. A sense of euphoria. A sense of calm. A sense of connect. A sense of pride. All felt at the same time.
Rahul has always played the role of a second-fiddle in the Indian team. Always. ‘There is no one to open the innings for India? Well, Rahul is there. No?’ ‘Sachin wants to open the innings? Rahul can come one-down.’ ‘We need a wicket-keeper batsman? Well.. What is Rahul doing?’ ‘Sourav is not available for the next series? Rahul can captain the team, can’t he?’ It is a pity that we have not streamlined his talent like we have been doing others’. He has never said ‘no’ all-through his career. Rather, he doesn’t really know how to say ‘No’.
Sachin, in his tribute to Rahul, has said, ‘There can only be one Rahul Dravid.’ Well, for once, I wish to differ with the Master. I wish we are blessed with more and more of Rahul Dravids. I believe that is the only way we can pay tribute to this selfless man, showing that we have inherited his qualities of perseverance. Of endurance. Of practice. Of patience. Of spirit.
Adieu, Rahul Dravid. Cricket will never be the same anymore.