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'I am not a statistics man'
Numbers prove Rahul Dravid’s achievement as he slips almost unnoticed next to the great Sachin Tendulkar.
Had Rahul Dravid not played cricket in the same era as Sachin Tendulkar, he would have been one of the most celebrated Test cricketers of all time. While his statistics speak volumes of his achievement, Dravid remains unfazed and, in fact, prefers the lack of limelight on occasion. By his own admission, "I can slip away and do my job for I am not always in the radar. Sachin stands exposed to the glare of the cameras all the time and has to take that extra pressure. I actually like it this way because it allows me to do my job in an efficient manner. "
India, too, likes it this way. First Sourav Ganguly and now Mahendra Singh Dhoni know that in Dravid they have someone they can bank on in a crisis. You don't have a regular opener;get Dravid to open the batting. You don't have a wicket-keeping option;get Dravid to don the keeping gloves. Need to save a match, you have Dravid to bat out time, and finally in Dravid you have the best in the world to take the shine off the swinging new ball. Yet he remains unassuming and modest, grounded and focussed, humble and determined.
Dravid's ultimate satisfaction rests in the fact that he has served his country with distinction for a decade and a half, a fact that came up repeatedly in his many press conferences in England and in the brief words we exchanged before and after India's practice on occasions. Here are the excerpts from what Dravid said after getting his name up on the Lord's honours board following his 33rd hundred, and again at Trent Bridge after scoring his 34th Test ton and equalling Sunil Gavaskar's tally of centuries.
ON HAVING REDISCOVERED HIMSELF AFTER A LEAN PATCH IN 2010.
I wouldn't say rediscovered. Yes, I did not score many runs in South Africa and wanted to make amends. I am happy that I have been able to do so. I played well in the West Indies and getting the hundred at Jamaica gave me a lot of confidence. I am glad that I have been able to carry the form to England. But I am not doing anything different and still keep things simple for myself and follow the routine I have done for years.
ON FINALLY HAVING HIS NAME ON THE LORD'S HONOURS BOARD.
Look, it feels good. It certainly does. Not that it would have been the end of the world had I not got a hundred here. There are many grounds in the world where I haven't scored a hundred. At the same time, it does feel good to have your name in the most celebrated honours board in world cricket. Some of the names up on that board are absolute legends of the game. To have my name beside theirs is always a great feeling.
ON THE CRITICISM AFTER THE SOUTH AFRICA SERIES THAT IT WAS PERHAPS TIME FOR DRAVID TO RETIRE.
One always feels the pressure when one is not scoring runs. I am no different. But I knew I wasn't playing badly. I got out to some really good balls and to some bad shots. I knew that I had to fight on and runs would come. Retirement has never crossed my mind. The one thing I have learnt from Sachin is the motivation to carry on. I am not thinking too far ahead at all and want to continue doing what I am doing in the Test matches we play in the next few days and months. I wish to confine myself to the present and not think too far ahead.
ON HAVING KEPT WICKETS, OPENED THE BATTING, DOING EVERYTHING FOR THE SAKE OF THE TEAM.
Someone has to do these things. I have been able to do them for India. I don't want to make much fuss about it. I am glad I have been able to open the batting and get runs for the team for it is a big mental adjustment and is not always easy in difficult batting conditions and against the swinging ball.
ON THE ADJUSTMENT BETWEEN OPENING THE BATTING AND BATTING AT NO 3.
It is a pretty big adjustment. I have grown up batting in the middle order and at No 3. All my routines are planned accordingly. I need the 15-20 minutes one gets as a No 3 batsman to regroup at the end of the opposition innings. When you open, you are rushed on occasion. For example, at Lord's, I felt very rushed in the second innings. At Trent Bridge, I was determined to give myself a bit more time so that I did not feel rushed. It is a pretty big adjustment in the end.
ON HIS INCREDIBLE RUN IN INTERNATIONAL CRICKET.
I am not a statistics person. I also feel that I have been fortunate enough to play many more Test matches than some of my predecessors and it is only natural that I have got more runs. But if you ask me if I had ever thought I'd be around for a decade and a half, I'd say no. The first thought when I played at Lord's fifteen years earlier was to cement my place in the team. That 95 I got went a long way to giving me a breathing space. When I look back, I feel privileged to have played cricket for India for fifteen long years and having done well for my country. It does give you a lot of pleasure to have shared the dressing room with legends of the game and to have done well for your nation.
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