When the Israelis had the Gaza wall and the China its Great wall; and for the Germans the Berlin wall, we Indians had a wall to be proud of. He was not known for his architectural beauty exactly. But he came to be known for his grit and mental strength.
I was at school when I had this fantasy of pasting his newspaper cut out into my ID cards. No one thought it as cool. Because Dravid wasn't your kind of cool guy. He was a simple man on and off the field. Even his ads weren't flamboyant. Interestingly, he showed more toughness while in the middle than his compatriots who were tough boys in ads.
He belonged to a group who stood by their beliefs and principles when the entire team was sold out to highest fixer. He along with Sachin cultivated unquestioned reputation and the country which identified itself with the game had someone to be happy about.
He along with a handful of seniors (though not age wise ) had this onerous responsiblity to lead a young team out of sewage and salvage the pride. It would've been honourable if at least the world cup winning team showed the grace to acknowledge their contribution.</p> <p>In an age where success is confined to stats, Dravid's contribution was much more than the figures on a television screen.
My first memory is from England '99. The only three batsmen showed even an iota of international standards. Dravid and Ganguly came up game after game and he ended up as second highest scorer. He was not known for heroically chasing the targets. People preferred him getting out as the entertainment factor was low. But for a real cricket enthusiast Dravid was a joy to watch. The perfectly still head when the feet moved like a ballad was a revelation. Still without much aplomb he was careful to pace the innings.
That was a time when fitness was secondary in India . Running between the wicket was a comedy of errors where old men heaved themselves around while they were thrown down by agile fielders. But Dravid set out an example as he played all these years effortlessly running and fielding almost with no injury to his credit.
Certainly, Sachin might find his days lonely in the middle. Laxman might follow the retirement path soon. Laxman had to go through the most thankless career. I certainly feel Indians could have been a bit more respectful during the recent dark days in Australia. I didn't see any greater commitment from the so called youth brigade. How can it be justified when we say seniors ought to make room.
Besides , it might be the north - south divide which saw no support or analysis on Dravid or Laxman. When they sang praises for bludgeonin by Sehwag, we missed the silent stars on their pages. Besides the expert analysis and commentory on game has also become a rarity as it slowly moves into shorter and run plunder format.
I don't think many of the 'fans' will miss you. But Dravid, you'll always be my hero.