Rahul D.

Location: Northeast Ohio

Forecast: Snowfall

Outside: Two feet of snow

Inside: A 1997 Toyota 4Runner (120K miles), A 2009 BMW M5 (20K miles), A 2010 Mercedes SLK Roadster (5K miles)

Mission: 25-mile drive taking your full-term pregnant wife to the hospital for delivery!

Question: Which car would you choose?

Thought so! That was exactly what Rahul Dravid was for the Indian cricket team for 17 years. He wasn’t the fastest in the team. He wasn’t the flashiest either. But the one word that comes to mind always is: Dependable. If you needed him he was there. Through rain and storm and sleet and snow he was the Toyota 4Runner of Indian cricket. Enough has been written about how he always played second fiddle. When he scored 153 in a One-Day match he was overshadowed by Sachin. When he scored 145 it was Saurav. In THAT Test match it was VVS. Even in his retirement Cricinfo carried his story below the NZ-SA Test match. He never complained. He never asked for more.

I did not grow up watching Rahul play as I did Kapil Dev or Sunil Gavaskar. I was already in the US when Dravid made his Test debut. Back in the 90s ‘watching’ cricket matches in the US wasn’t as commonplace as it is today. But he grew on me. His work ethic, his humble approach and above all his gentlemanly demeanor appealed to me. Knowingly or unknowingly I think he was is a tremendous influence on me and my attitude. I am not super talented. I am neither the BMW M5 nor the Mercedes Roadster in the garage. I may not be as dependable as Mr. Dependable. But at least 7-8 times out of 10 you can count on me to deliver. I wasn’t like this before. I think watching Dravid play made me that way.

Back in 2007 during the World Cup I and a bunch of friends went to Port-of-Spain to watch India exit out of the World Cup in the first round. Our hotel was a mile from where the Indian team was lodged. I met several of our cricketers there – Yuvi, Saurav, Kumble (another great player) to name a few. But my biggest disappointment was that I could not meet Rahul Dravid. I am a great admirer of Sachin Tendulkar: a once-in-a-generation cricketer. But I would’ve loved to meet Rahul more than Sachin.

See Dravid epitomizes all that’s not current day India. He’s more hardworking than talented. He’s more humble than flashy. Virat Kohli – another great talent – exemplifies the current generation of players. When pushed he flips the bird. Mistaking brashness for confidence is a grave error in judgment that today’s India would do well to unlearn. When Alan Donald needled Dravid he hit him for a six. Dravid 1 – Donald 0. The story ended.

Thank you sir… For giving us all we craved for as cricket fans. For showing me the value of ethics, determination, sincerity and above all humility. For making me understand that there is no I in team. That the team always comes first. For making me a better person.

In his own words (quoting Kipling): “The strength of the wolf is the pack and the strength of the pack is the wolf”.

Take a bow Mr. D!

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