“Dravid pips Sachin in best batsman category of last 50 years as per Wisden poll” I saw an early morning watsapp message and was not surprised as many of you. Its as big debating as Gavaskar vs Vishwanath in era of 1970-1982.
The question is whether there is always a soft corner in minds of sports lovers for a player who lives a blemishless , dignified and down to earth and away from glamour life.
Dravid and GR Vishwanath are two legends of last 50 years who have impressed us with these not so common traits in the ruthless , commercial and rat race prone world we live in.
Year 1979….India plays England in golden jubilee test at Mumbai , Wankhede Stadium….India bat first….bowled out quickly for less than 250… Replying England reduced to 58 for 5 by Kapil’s one of the many best spells on grassy wicket and Ghavri suppporting him . England’s Kapil (Botham) at one end and Wicketkeeper Bob Taylor at other…Kaps bowls one more deadly outswinger…Taylor seems to have edged…keeper Kirmani takes a straight catch…. everyone appeals …umpire raises finger…. Taylor waits…and walks back dejectedly ….Vishy asks Taylor ….he says no edge….Vishy asks umpire if he can call back…umpire agrees….Taylor and Botham in 170 plus partnership…match sealed and lost….
Such a prestigious match for India and one test old captain Vishy stands by ethics or spirit of the game…..no matter what…99 out of 100 captains would have grabbed the opportunity to win historical test with both hands .
But it was GRV . No ordinary player, no ordinary human being , cricket world has ever seen.
Vishy had no enemies except bowlers who would celebrate his wicket more than Gavaskar’s on a deadly wickets.
There are atleast five match winning knocks on deadly wickets by GRV the first little master which have single handedly turned these matches upside down. VVS Laxman has equal number may be .
We see hardly any ‘walker’ these days.Walker meaning a batsman walks without waiting for umpire decision if he feels he is out.
Nowadays definition of walker is ‘batsman who walks after umpire gives out without any reaction’
There is a vast difference in this ‘walker’ and that ‘walker’ as much as Shahid Afridi hit and a Sehwag hit.
Sachin has almost been one.But has shown his resentments on few occasions .
Vishy gave umpire the least stares, even his (umpire’s) obedient son would have given fewer.
Listen to so many cricketers , journalists, commentators , never any one has uttered a word against this gentleman , a soberly stlylish batsman.
When we met him personally for interview , we were floored to see his gentleness, compose and modesty. If anything he has to stare at it will be ground , and nothing else.
Rahul again in same class as batting, dignity, compose and modesty.
“You please keep wickets as we can play extra batsman in ODI” Dada had advised Rahul and obedient soldier Dravid acceded.Dravid gave more than he could for team as keeper. No dearth of commitment no hang ups.
Rahul was also a walker though not as much as Vishy.
Rahul faced a humiliation at world cup when he was leading best side . Defeat in 2007 world cup was heart breaking and teammates failed miserably to the extent it looked deliberate.
Rahul never complained about his team in press and took the blame on himself.
He fought back to win three back to back Test series and gave up his captainship before it could make him look greedy.
Rahul has after hanging up his boots , preferred slogging on ground, training young Indians , imbibing in them right qualities, lessons. Even after retirement as a successfull player, instead of seeking ‘cosy airconditioned off the field jobs , sweating it out for building a future of Indian cricket.
“I will not write a biography as I can not make my family suffer from backlash for honest outbreaks in book , and biography has to be a truth telling story” Rahul rightly revealed at a book release function of Rajdeep Sardesai recently.
Averaging fifty plus in Test cricket , keeping the arrogance on boundary line is difficult but Rahul has shown it is not impossible.
‘I dont want Phd and Doctorate. Dr in front of my name is acceptable if I earn it, I know what it takes to become a doctor’ Rahul had courage to reject the tempting decorative adjective in front of his name. He was offered Phd by Bangaluru University recently.
And here courage meant modesty of highest level.
I fear there won’t be any more in sports like these two Vishy and Rahul. Some on international arena like Roger Federer appear to be of having same virtues.
As far as our country is concerned, can we specify Vishy and Rahul as creatures of endangered species of remotely found virtues like simplicity modesty dignity and gentleness. Or you want to add few more names?
By Aju Deshpande
A sportsnasha exclusive