There are few personalities in the sporting world that either fully grapple with the beauty of grace and humility, or have been ambassadors of the qualities throughout their careers. But there are less than a handful who will disagree when it comes to calling a legend like Rahul Dravid, a Gentleman in it’s truest sense of the word.
A man who not only showcased dignity and class throughout his Cricketing career spanning over 16 years, but someone who genuinely demonstrated pure honesty, credibility and gentleman-likesness, off the field as well. Reason why I say this, is because I’ve always felt that by the virtue of the phenomenal human being that Rahul Dravid is, his greatness is not given it’s adequate due. Perhaps, because he does it so silently, yet so focused. So genuinely, yet ensuring that there’s no media noise made around it. And so gracefully, that it almost seems too good to be true.
An instance which will forever be etched within my memory of documenting his greatness, is when Team India were in desperate need of a genuine wicketkeeper during the 2003 Cricket World Cup, and there was no one fit to take on the job. And when Rahul Dravid’s shoulders already seemed too heavy from taking on the responsibility of carrying the team’s low scoring burdens, the incredible man decided to raise his hands, put on the keeping gloves and stand behind the stumps for 50 overs throughout the tournament, and then came out to bat, to do what he always did best. I can say this with more than a tinge of assurity that there aren’t many in the game that would’ve been willing to challenge their own mental and physical fitness levels and do what Dravid so relentless did in Cricket’s biggest event. A mark of a hero and a gem were adjectives that had become a part of his personality there on.
You always know what greatness means to you within your heart of hearts, but it’s not always the easiest of skills to portray when it comes to exemplifying them. And therefore, once again, when recently Rahul Dravid was offered to be bestowed with an honorary doctorate, he gracefully refused to accept it. His reason for doing so didn’t surprise me enormously, but certainly elevated my respect for him by leaps and bounds. He said..
“The thing about the doctorate is that my mom did her PhD and earned a doctorate at the age of 55. My wife’s a surgeon who studied seven years to get a degree in surgery. And I’ve always felt that if it was something I wanted, I would like to have earned it. I don’t mean that anyone else should have that feeling and I’m not trying to belittle anyone else. It’s just that I felt that way because of my own experiences.”
If I could count my years of growing up, admiring and being the die-hard cricket fan that I am, I’m privileged to say that I learnt something uniquely beautiful, genuinely optimistic and realistically precious about life through Rahul Dravid’s game on the field, and through his demeanour, off it. Multiple commentators, critics and Cricket experts through the years have raved and been in awe of Dravid’s style, his strokes and his masterclass of humility when he asks nothing back from the game apart from his dream and desire to play for the country which is he did brilliantly for years together.
I remember shedding a tear the day he walked back to the pavilion for the last time in ODI’s & Test Cricket after being dismissed. And it wasn’t just the sadness of a legend like him finishing his career and saying goodbye to the game that gave him so much. But it was the beauty through which he played every stroke in the book, the patience and joy with which he emerged victorious each time, and the question that I still ask many today – Will there ever be another Rahul Dravid ever again? A question that will be remained unanswered for years to come. A gentleman he was, is, and will forever be remembered as.