Sunday, August 5, 2012

Rahul Dravid: Timeless Steel

I finished reading this book very long back but didn’t have enough time to write my review because of Olympics.

The book is collected writing on Indian Cricket’s goto man by writers, commentators, coaches and the players whom he played with for the last 17 years. The book is divided in five parts describing each and every quality of this great man. There are interviews, his great innings, and captaincy, as a man and at last his Bradman’s oration before his last series against Australia even before the actual contest between bat and ball began and that I think is the best inning by Rahul Dravid. I have read and watched his Bradman’s oration umpteen times and still can read and watch it many more time.

It started with an introduction by Sambit Pal, editor of CricInfo and where in he writes “Indian Cricket may find a batsman as capable, but to find a man as exceptional is likely to be far tougher”. Yes indeed, he was more than a cricketer, he believed in simple thing. Wasn’t flashy and followed by as many as SRT but he knew his ability and stood firm when the situation demanded. Always very cool calm and composed whether he is inside the arena or in the public. As he says in one of the interview that, “I take time to have a bath, wear my clothes, eat breakfast. I never rush things and that sort of sets up my mood for the rest of the day”. His interviews are really motivational.

Former Indian coach writes about him,” I have never seen a more dedicated player than Rahul Dravid in the nets” and he goes on to write “He never made the same mistake twice”. He worked hard, discussed with coaches and senior players to overcome the the mistake he made in the previous game.

He wasn’t gifted as some players of that time were like Sachin, Lara, Steve Waugh but he was hard working. He worked relentlessly to learn one thing. He wants to achieve perfection and for that he could do anything.
As Suresh Menon, editor of wisden cricketers writes, “Talent without hard work withers early, hard work without talent gets you know where”.

After 2nd test against Australia in Eden Garden which will always itch in our memory where RD scored 180 and along with VVS (281) and leveled the series by 1-1 and the rest is the history we all know, he said “It would define our careers from now on, irrespective of what we achieved or dint achieve after that”.

Once he was asked if he is eying to break Lara’s 400 records he grins, “Four hundred? For me to score 400, the test match would have to go into sixth day”
A man who has scored more than 13000 test runs has never been dismissed for first ball duck. He was though run out for 0 without facing the ball once. That speaks about him that he was always prepared to bat at any situation and at any number.
He opened the inning, batted at no 3, 4, and 5, and kept wickets at the age of 38. He could do anything for the team. He was the most selfless cricketer.
As he says the moment you are determined that bowlers have to take their wicket and you will not throw it just like that (unlike Rohit, Dilshan), you wouldn’t have burden to perform, runs will come automatically.

For him the dropped catches mattered the most as he feels that he let down the bowlers personally who try hard and create chance and it’s all gone.

He helped his junior team mates and always encouraged to do well. Suresh Raina writes, “He said a lot of glamour, fame and money would surround you as an international player but the key thing for you is to keep in mind at all times to never lose your focus on cricket, to be disciplined and remember that you are a person”
He showed the way to youngsters and told that “practice what you preach” (unlike the politician: D)

He always enjoyed the process, personal battles and sacrifices he made to achieve that, he never played for accolades or for money.
His wife Vijeeta says about his husband perfectionist, “I often tell Rahul that he is very good husband but would have been a very boring boyfriend”. “He doesn’t like the word hero being used carelessly, because to him real heroes are soldiers, scientist and doctors”.

That tells you that at the end of the day he feels about himself as a simple human being like we are.
One thing that I have noticed about Dravid is that he always takes the first name while speaking like Sachin, Grieg, Sourav, VVS, Gauti, John, MS. I don’t know how many of you have noticed that.

This is a must read those who love Rahul Dravid and cricket in general and test cricket in specific. He is the best test cricket player to have played the game. When we have IPL and meaningless T20, his priority was always test cricket. He always believed that to do well in test cricket in overseas is the ultimate satisfaction.

The book could have been a more palpable read had there been views and thoughts of groundsmen, camera persons when he drove to the off side, his team mates like SRT Dada and his best mate on the field VVS.

This is the nicest book I have ever read and in the finest read “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand tops the list.

Happy Friendship Day!

1 comment:

Rahul SMS said...

Rahul Dravid - the player - would be surely missed by Team India, especially in Tests. The vacuum created by his retirement needs to be filled as soon as possible, though it will be difficult to find an able replacement - a true all-rounder in the correct sense, a dependable batsman, leader, thinker, slip fielder, wicketkeeper, noncontroversial, elegant gentleman, a crisis man or rather A GO TO MAN - as the title rightly suggests. Timeless Steel is a nice attempt which reminisces the best of Dravid's cricket, which incidentally also happens to be India's best overseas Test Cricket of the last 16 years.
The Book is a wonderful read for all Dravid fans, though I personally feel a lot of his other Innings should also have been included
1. His first Test century (148 & 81) against SA at Johannesburg, which India could not win due to the last 2 wickets
2. His centuries in each innings (110 & 135) against Pakistan at the Eden gardens, which India won
3. His 93 against Aussies on a Perch scorcher, which India won by 72 runs to keep the series alive after the ugly episode in Melbourne earlier.
Overall a nice concept by ESPN-Cricinfo to highlight the best of Dravid and his contribution to Team India - both On & OFF the Field - in terms of Cricket.
Just to add, I finished reading the entire piece of Timeless Steel in just under 2 days, not compromising on any other daily routine.