O Rahul (Dravid)
The above bracket sums it all. I want to admire Rahul Dravid - the cricketer. I am not to write about how good he was and what are his achievements. There is whole lot written about him discounting eulogies. Some positive some negative.http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/cricket/top-stories/Rahul-Dravid-announces-retirement-from-international-cricket/articleshow/12195477.cms
On 9-Mar-2012, Rahul announced retirement from cricket. It means so much for the Indian cricket. People are engulfed into eulogies and statistics.
Let me add my perspective.
To me, Rahul was the last quality batsman who played the game as per the technique. The previous great who could qualify was Sunil Gavaskar. And we do not see anyone on the horizon who can fit the shoes. There is an inherent beauty in watching the Test cricket played as per the technique. Rahul made us proud several occasions. The new generations will no doubt get more runs because of the number of matches played. (And where is Sachin? He has several unorthodox shots. And he makes full use of them. Whereas these two (Sunil and Rahul) would play as per textbook. Hence both were not equally flamboyant in one day cricket.)
He was the last of the well qualified gentleman cricketers from Karnataka. Srinath, Kumble, and Rahul. They were well educated despite being in cricket from early part of their careers. The pipeline is dry now. These days we have youngsters coming into cricket with money in bank early in their career. Education takes backseat.
He was nicknamed "The Wall" by Peter Roebuck for his ability to hold forte in difficult conditions. He gave confidence that one end will be held up. When VVS Laxman, Sachin, Ganguly primed, this resulted in superlative performance for Indian innings. He helped others grow.
He adopted his game to suit one days. A difficult proposition when one is established batsman with a sound temperament for the longer format. Initially he was criticized for playing too slow for ODIs. Later on he adopted to the format. And scored 10889 runs in ODIs.
He did everything possible for the team. Kept wickets, batted in different positions, as the team needed, bowled (yes he has one wicket in Test cricket and 4 in ODIs!).
There were several occasions where he distinguished himself with the sound technique. The most recently the England tour of 2011 and 2012. Where everyone else was seem to fall apart. But he scored 4 centuries in the series.
He was criticized for his technique in ODIs, or whenever he failed. Ups and downs are part of the career. They were temporary setbacks padded with some glorious phases. What is evaluated is class, temperament.
O Rahul, I am proud you played cricket for India. I am privileged to be able to watch your game. You gave me satisfaction of watching classical approach to Test cricket. Something which I missed watching Sunil Gavaskar. May someone carry the baton in the near future.
Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! For making cricket better by your contribution.