World Cricket’s Gentleman
I was recently on an online book store, looking around all the hype surrounding Dan Brown’s next venture titled “Inferno”. I looked at the cover and then scrolled down to find the price, exorbitantly high for me, and hence my cursor cursorily moved to the little into mark at the top right hand corner of my screen, it was then that I first saw it, this book. I wondered how I didn’t come across it earlier, as a self-acclaimed voracious reader, it was a matter of shame for me. And then without second thoughts, I clicked on the link. What I saw made me leap into the air like a little kid around a box of candies. I was looking at one particular familiar face, a close up of an action the nation knew well or perhaps too well. I was staring into “Timeless Steel”, an account of the genius named Rahul Dravid. Compiled by the staff of ESPN CRICINFO, and a host of other professionals ranging from columnists, to friends and family and even the opposition, this book is a heart-warming tale of Dravid’s journey, of friendship’s forged, of lessons learnt, of values imbibed, of hardships overcome, of failures looked down upon, of hard decisions made, of being able to respect everyone and then at the end of the day, achieving your goal. Un-equivocated and unparalleled are the articles by the contributors, Sambit Bal, Sharda Ugra, Suresh Raina and Jason Gillespie to name a few. It even includes an article from Vijeeta, Dravid’s own life partner.
The book is conveniently split into different sections containing about 5 articles each and draws upon specific attributes that comprise Rahul’s arsenal.
The first section talks about Dravid the cricketer, on how he went on to be the most respected and dignified batsmen throughout world cricket. Accounts by people like Sanjay Manjrekar add credibility to the fact that Dravid never had anything easy, but what he was blessed was with a mind with concentration powers bordering on that of being yogic. It is told to us that, Dravid was bestowed upon with limited talent and then like an iron smith he sweat it out. Ball after ball, net session after net session, he slogged it out to be what he is today. Dravid’s greatest achievement would probably be the fact that he often stood tall when people around him folded, withered away, and there stood a young little man from Bangalore, warrior-esque. There also depictions of the soul searching summer at Kent when Dravid rediscovered his talent, that definitive summer after which he never looked back. There are accounts on how he faces a game, about the cognitive processes in his mind, about how he toils himself and yet remain true, humble, honest and grounded.
Then comes the section where his own people talk of him, his former coaches, friends and opponents. It is humbling to see the respect Dravid gets from important people. It is the mark of the man that he is first, his impeccable game later. Accounts from John Wright and Greg Chappel are commendable to say the least. To give credit where it is due is a wonderful thing to do and the 2 formers coaches deserve a pat on the back. Then comes the account of a former team mate at Kent named Ed Smith. It talks about the man that Dravid is, nothing superhero about him, just a watchful and diligent learner. And then Gillespie goes on to talk about the famous test at Kolkata where VVS Laxman got 281 and Dravid’s 180 is almost always forgotten. Dravid is the pivot around which the team rotates, he is their Terra Firma.
There is another section devoted to the greatest ever knocks of Dravid, and immediately, Kolkata, Headingly, Rawalpindi and Adelaide come to mind. The struggles that he had to undergo in scripting history through those wonderful knocks are shown to us first hand by people who were involved first hand. It is akin to relieving the entire innings, only from the comfort of our sofa, and we are not complaining one bit. There have been greater stroke makers than Dravid in his time and beyond and after. But Dravid never complained, he was the watchful guardian, a silent protector, and if i could use, the white knight. White because, everything about Dravid stood out, the school boy charm, the combed hair, the inquisitive curiosity and a penchant for learning, all this and more made him White. Knight because, he took on the most feared bowlers head on, without fear.
There are 2 more sections which feature Dravid the man and one with Dravid himself doing the talking, but those 2 can wait as I couldn’t wait to share with the world what
I have been reading. It is just so irresistible (hardly a word to associate with Dravid ).
Perhaps, only mistake on his part was to be playing in a wrong era, where quick scoring is primary, where there is more buzz than substance. Had he belonged to the Bradman era, he would have been immortalized with The Don himself; such is the class that the man oozes. Having said that, the fact that he has established himself as India’s best batsmen overseas is testament of the fact that challenges are nothing new to the man who was raised a disciplinarian the fact that he averaged more than Tendulkar in the early of the 2000’s when Indian Cricket was on the rise is proof of the fact that Dravid was key to the new Indian resurrection, to India’s stride to the top and beyond. It is only fitting that he was a part of the team which eventually went on to be world number 1 in test match cricket. Never content, never laid back, always on the lookout for the next challenge, Rahul Dravid is surely Timeless Steel personified.
All you cricket fans, go get your copy now!