Saturday, November 22, 2008

Being Rahul Dravid

Rahul Dravid is struggling to score runs. And he has been struggling for a while. Whether he decides to quit the game or not is his own call & his place in the side regardless of his personal decision is a question for the BCCI. For me, though, looking at Dravid as just a number 3 batsman in India colours is violently reductionist - it is tantamount to saying that Edmund Hilary was mountaineer from New Zealand & Abraham Lincoln was the President of United States around 1860.

A while back a guy called Kapil Dev took 400 or so wickets - only to be surpassed plentiful times since his times. Kapil's 400 wickets, though, are more than a record - what was more important that it made a nation believe that it can bowl fast. The lot of Indian bowling stars/starlets owe it Kapil that conceiving a cricketing career as a pace bowler was no longer construed as utterly ridiculous.

In the same vain, Rahul Dravid is more than the sum of all his runs. He is the crouching wicket-keeper who keeps for 50 overs & comes out to bat at #3. He is the master technician who shakes his head in dissapointment if the ball he sent to the boundary hit his bat 3 cms to the right of the meat of his bat. He is the guy who gave up captaincy, in a power hungry country, so he could just bat.

If Dravid does not recover his form, no one, in their right minds, can say it was because he did not try, or because he was pre-occupied with things other than scoring runs. Being Rahul Dravid also means merciless introspection, as Menon writes here; & the continual scrutiny of his game, in good times as well as bad, toward continuous improvement. It means the restoration of method & practice as legitimate means to cricketing achievement, in sharp contrast to the wizardry weilding hand-eye coordination method of some of our popular & equally successful batsmen.

And that is precisely why Dravid is more than a crickter. A fat lot of help hand-eye coordination is if you do markerting, or keep accounts. But whether you have a rock-band, or write software programmes - you can apply method & practice. You can demand the best of yourself if you practise law, or design a set. In medicine as in the hotel business, there is always something that you need to learn & relearn.

Dravid's legacy, then, is an old-fashioned, incredibly middle-class, relook at the art of the possible - not by the blessed magical sparks of talent & twists of luck, but in spite of these. His legacy is the extra thought you put in, the additional hour you invest, & when you strive instead of trying.

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