Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tribute - Dravid, the inimitable being!

There is a saying which essentially means that everyone wanted to be the chef of the winters and the gardner among the rains. When the spirit is so elated by the circumstance, it is little wonder that the outcome may have that little extra flavor and brilliance. But then who is the one who wants to take care of the petals in the scorching sun of a summer day. Really, who is the one who wants to do the hard work, sacrificing in the process, the pleasures of extravagance and flair in his outcomes. Rahul Dravid for one, thrives in this business or art if you may please to call it that way. He announced retirement from first class cricket earlier in the day today and again embraced the hard task of walking into the sunset before any of the other stalwarts. That lure was overpowering for us mortals to get the one final chance to watch him don the Test flannels and then being carried around on the shoulders of the players. Ofcourse Rahul was not unnecessarily concerned and his detached, calculated and consistent decision soon imparted more wisdom on us like it has been the case for so many years now. He would not be human if he would not have been tempted to have grandstanded a farewell but the key point is that he actually overcame it like always.That is why he is a role model. No psuedo smartness which really is a selfishness of leaving at a high and no dragging-through for no reason. Is not this the way he has conducted himself always. Honest and equal to the task and circumstance. As he rightly pointed out, there is absolutely no merit in waiting 6 months to just appear in a Test or a farewell series for the sake of it. Sounds Australian right. Well, our dear friend as well played his cricket for and in exactly the right spirit and reason. I get a feeling he relished just being part of a group and contributing to remain that part towards the end of his career. He understood that individual success was good but also brought a duality with it which, if the individual focussed too much on the individual success, might take the sheen out of the achievement eventually. But if he dissolved his craft and consciousness in the whole and contributed, there could be just the positive aspects to be relished. Or something similar, he seemed to point.
He grew as a batsman, cricketer and a human in the ensuing period since his much celebrated debut. A chronological reading of his views and statements would corroborate that. After the 2008 Mohali century that some believe saved his career, he said he had grown older and wiser. I suspect he consciously aimed at that after a point in time. He has invariably sounded more mature than his years all through and that is not any kind of exhibitionism. It just comes so natural to him. His being a avid reader does not hurt either. And he has constantly reinvented himself. That is sheer determination, pure hardwork and a childlike love for the game on display for you. All this entails the cognitive aspect of his game that is the most celebrated aspect of his story. This is where he begins to carve his own landscape in the cricketing wilderness. Of all the modern great batsmen, only Ponting seems to be nearly as much involved in his craft mentally, well not as much involved still. Ofcourse this can be an incorrect perception, but that is how it appears to me. And for all the goodness and gentlemanly attributes he carries, there is a bloody mindedness which engulfs his persona while he is in the middle. No image of his flashes in my mind with a bat in his hand in a Test match and him sharing a light hearted smiling moment with anyone. Not that the kind of relaxing is in any way undesirable, but it speaks volumes of how much seriousness goes into the business of being Rahul Dravid the batsman. And it is in my opinion the single most important and startling achievement of his Test career, this consistently high degree of intensity he has conjured in every single session of his Test match days. And beyond. One just needs too much energy and mind-space or mind-matter to be able to do that. And I suspect he has had to sacrifice a lot to achieve that. And this in itself a hallmark of greatness across the board. The intensity he generated in those moments was infectious really for anyone who would care.
Then there were the more tangible cricketing aspects such as the impeccable technique, the incredible fitness, the fulfilling bat-arcs, the calculated shotmaking and the intuitive catching. Add to it the inimitable style and vibrancy. The one common trait among all these is their being methodical and product of a immaculate work ethic. He could have chosen to be a lesser cricketing Genius than three of his contemporary international superstars - he relinquished anything associated with a Genius - if he did not work as hard to bring such rewarding method to everything about his cricket. And consequently he became an absolute cricketing crisis man whose act was based on the value it created and much more purposeful. And it feels more fulfilling than even a Genius. Thus, when everyone else failed among alien conditions which did not respect their extravagant and jolly brand of Cricket much, his method coupled with innate talent became the saviour at every call of duty.
His achievements in the limited formats of the game have been excellent and he would not mind at all to be an also ran in that department, not that 10000 plus runs are scored in every alternate career. But he would be the first one to put his hand up to count ten better contemporary batsmen in those formats. And I suspect there would not be many more than that. It is ironical in some respect that the final batsmanship we will witness from Rahul would be in the T20 drama. It is a good way for the celebrated senior cricketers to walk into the cricketing sunset, this brand of cricket. And we should be grateful to it for that. But he is also now a leader in that contest and would try to pass on his cricketing legacy one final time inside of the hallowed oval. And if Cricket is a team game, there can not be a better practitioner and so his team should look forward to extract those values from him. We do not know the future. Times have changed and media and commercial interests have much changed the dynamics of Cricket. He is sure to take some time off from the game for various obvious reasons. He has the experience and ideas but there is a different set of challenges in the Cricketing world outside the dressing room, a fact he would be well aware of. I would like to leave the thinking part to him and wait for what conclusions he draws and path he charts for himself to follow and us to understand. But I suspect the following cliche is going to hold true. You can take him out of active Cricket but not the Cricket out of him. So maybe we need not be too sad afterall, maybe he would still be seen around Cricket very soon. But the huge fan imbued with a heavy dosage still gets apprehensive.

1 comment:

Nikit said...

kuchh likho be naya