Never thought I'd play T20 cricket for so long, an emotional Dravid bids farewell
It was with mixed emotions that Rahul Dravid bid goodbye to competitive cricket after the Champions League T20 final at the Feroze Shah Kotla ground in Delhi on Sunday. Mr Dependable, Mr Reliable, The Wall of Indian cricket since 1996 was overflowing with gratitude and, at the same time, also engulfed in sadness.
Happy he was to see cricketers - whether from his Rajasthan Royals' team or the rivals Mumbai Indians - and fans give him and Sachin Tendulkar a standing ovation during the tournament final. Sad he becomes to recount the tough time he has gone through during the entire spotfixing scandal involving his teammates.
"Yeah, the farewell was indeed very special at Kotla. I felt so happy and had a feeling of gratitude for the people who gave us (him and Sachin) a standing ovation.. I felt lucky to get such applause and respect," he told Aaj Tak, a day after retiring from all formats of the game.
Perhaps it was that intent of doing something special for the team which saw Dravid's Rajasthan Royals in a completely different mould in the Champions League T20 tournament where they just seemed invincible. "Would've been good to by CouponDropDown" id="_GPLITA_0" style="text-decoration: underline;" href="http://indiatoday.intoday.in/#" in_rurl="http://i.txtsrving.info/click?v=R0I6NDgzMTg6MjI2ODp3aW46YjlmNzU0NDAxNDExMDkwYTBjOGMzOGVmZDFiM2Q3Yjg6ei0xNDkwLTI1MzEyMjppbmRpYXRvZGF5LmludG9kYXkuaW46OTI1MTQ6MWMzMTE0ZDY4ZDQ3MTYwZGRkZjhmZDc4OTI1ZjY0ZDI6YjVkMzEwNDYzY2UxNDIyMzk0MWEyOTg2MGZmN2I1ZmM">win
CLT20 but happy with the way boys played. I think not many would have expected us to play this well here and also in the IPL. Am so glad that we took the team to such heights," says the 40-year-old with 24,000 runs in international cricket.
It was in 1996 that Dravid made his India debut at Lord's; a journey which saw him become one of the greatest batsmen in world cricket along with Sachin Tednulkar and Sourav Ganguly. "It's been a a pretty quick journey. Time really flew away but I have loved and enjoyed every moment of it. I got to learn so much as a human being and a cricketer. My hobby, my love for cricket turned into a career so I could not have asked for more."
Of course, Dravid would have never imagined, even in the wildest of his dreams at that moment that 17 years down the line, he would say goodbye to cricket in a 20-over match which will also see Sachin Tendulkar appear in coloured clothing one last time. "I got to play in the IPL for six years. I had never thought initially that I will be able to play this format for so long. But, I did learn a lot from T20 cricket as well and thought that, with so much of talent around in the country, it was time to give a chance to the youngsters."
After hanging boots, Dravid is now eagerly waiting to see Sachin play his 200th Test match. "A big number it is... 200 Test matches not an ordinary thing. Playing 100 Tests is such a big achievement and I think nobody can even dream of playing 200 Tests. I want that this should be a memorable occasion for him (Sachin)," said Dravid.
A possibility of playing less than three Tests if indeed India's tour of South Africa gets a green signal does not makes Dravid very happy though. "Test cricket is ultimate. You get to learn so much by playing abroad be it in South Africa, Australia or England. Our youngsters will hope to do well in whatever matches they get to play there. Ideally you should have at least a 3-Test series but I believe time constraints will also matter including other issues."
It has been nothing less than a roller-coaster ride for the Rajasthan Royals team this year. The spotfixing scandal in IPL saw three Rajasthan Royals players - Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan - in police custody. But, even as the dark clouds gathered, fans expressed their full faith in Dravid, the skipper of the team.
"Definitely, I was saddened and disappointed with the entire spotfixing scandal. More hurt because the players involved were very good and talented, they had the potential to achieve big. They are bearing the consequences for their wrongdoing now. I personally felt very hurt not just for the fellow players but also the franchise and people who had worked so hard for the team. Players who gave nothing less than 100 per cent for the team also felt let down," said Dravid.
He is still undecided about his future though. A role of a 'mentor' is ready for him in the Rajasthan Royals dressing room but what Dravid wants right now is a long holiday with the family. "I had a great time with Rajasthan Royals, very happy about it. I will take a break and then decide about my future," he signed off.