Wednesday, 18 July, 2007

The turning point

When Rahul Dravid leads his country for the first time at the ‘Holy of Holies’ Lords, tomorrow, it will be a proud moment for arguably the greatest ‘Number 3’ in Indian cricket. And for once, the spotlight will be firmly on the man who would rather work behind the stage and ensure the show runs efficiently, than make a flamboyant statement standing in front of it.

Although he made a dream debut eleven years ago at Lords, Dravid’s early career was clearly overshadowed by the genius of Sachin Tendulkar and to an extent, by the magical class of Azharuddin. Every once in a while, he came up with a Dravid esque innings of typical grit and determination, as if to remind everyone that he was also the vital cog in the Indian wheel. And just when one thought he was finally standing shoulder to shoulder with Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman almost threatened to steal the thunder right under Dravid’s nose with a very very special 281 against Australia at Kolkata in 2001. Almost, because Headingley, Adelaide and Rawalpindi happened in quick succession and Dravid, in his quiet and unassuming manner, took over from Sachin Tendulkar, the mantle of the mainstay of Indian batting.

Often in the quest of analyzing ‘Dravid - The batsman’, we tend to overlook ‘Dravid - The team man’. Dravid was every captain’s dream deputy. India’s golden run for three years starting from 2001 owes as much to Ganguly the captain as it does to Dravid. He was to Ganguly what Sachin was to Azhar. Perhaps no other Indian cricketer in recent years, save Kumble and Sachin, has been so unflinching in their support to the skipper.

As team India steps on to the hallowed turf at Lords, Dravid would be well aware that India’s performance at Lords has always been a case of brilliant individual display, than an all round team endeavor. The sum part of these individual acts have almost always, fallen way short of the England team as a whole.

What’s more, Indian cricket is currently at crossroads. The ‘ring out the old and ring in the new’ phase has already been ushered, going by the selections for Twenty20 world cup. By all accounts, this is also the last tour, which the ‘Famous Five’ of Indian cricket – Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman and Kumble – have undertaken of England. At the same time, the air is pregnant with expectations from the new crop of players, trying to establish themselves as able replacements, if not challengers, to their more illustrated seniors.

So, like the first one at Lords in 1932, this series is poised to be a turning point in Indian cricket. But unlike then, this could also take a turn for worse. It would be cruel fate, if Dravid, the ultimate team man, is at the wheels if things come to such a pass.

All the best Rahul Dravid and all the best Team India, although, you would need much more than just good wishes to defy history at Lords - the ground where it all began for you and your country.


Soulberry said...

Absolutely, CG! Dravid has been the quintessential team-man and has always offered unflinching support to his captain like some of his illustrious peers.

There is also no doubt that he is by far the best no.3 India has ever produced. I would go as far as to say that perhaps he is one of the best no.3 cricket has seen.

The dog of being shadowed has hounded him since his test debut - in nostalgia, that English tour will always bring to mind first the circumstances of a certain Ganguly with Dravid following, and overtaking the discussion, soon after.

This is a fine opportunity to shoo away that hound for ever.

The intention is there, the chance is there, perhaps the final...Go, Dravid, Go!

Homer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Homer said...

India confides that every man will do his duty.

Soulberry said...

Well, Anil Kumble certainly is keeping that confidence Homer.

CG, Bad weather could ruin day two. I gathered from the text commentary and reports that the ball was swinging till late in the day yesterday. In case we do have some play (rain is forecast upto Sunday) in this match, India would be tested against the moving ball when it is their turn to bat.

India might have got away with it in this test match.

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