I have been off watching cricket for a number of years now. The days of following every match and tournament are long gone. But today in a cricket stadium in South Africa, an event so out of the blue has occurred that I have to write about it.
Of all the cricketers in the world, Rahul Dravid has won the Man of the Match in a 20-20 match. For all those unfamiliar with the sport of cricket, it's the equivalent of Beethoven winning the MTV Music Awards Rap Album of the Year. I am quite thrilled about this unexpected event even though I couldn't watch the match between the Rajasthan Royals and the Bangalore Royal Challengers (Dravid's team) being posted here in the cricket ignorant country of the USA. Another old tiger roared today in the form of Anil Kumble, but it was definitely Dravid's day!
Dravid has never been my favourite player in terms of watching him play but there is no denying the Wall of support that he has been for the Indian cricket team. Always a team man to the core, his impeccable technique may be a drag to watch sometimes but God knows there is no member more essential to a team's composition than a monolithic shock absorber like Dravid. Some critics tend to jeer at him for not being able to win games on his own but then that's foolish because you're forgetting his brilliant match winning 233 in Adelaide 2004 and countless other occasions especially on foreign soil when he was really the Wall between victory and defeat. He is one of the rare players who displays a street fighter's grit at the batting crease yet is a quiet, soft spoken man off the field unlike most others who play similar roles as his.
But 20-20? The extreme form of cricket where balls spent more time outside the boundary ropes than inside and the blind slog is actually the most effective shot! Dravid's game of perfection and patience has its calling but little did I expect him to pull this stunt off in the rapid-fire version of cricket. This may just be a one off event but it's nice to see hard-workers like him get rewarded. Flamboyance may not be his thing but he has quietly worked his way through mindless criticism and undeserved hatred (post Ganguly's removal as captain) to establish himself. It's tough to find appreciation for textbook batting techniques in the midst of dazzling colleagues like Ganguly, Tendulkar, Laxman and Yuvraj but I feel that Dravid never really sought that. He is trained and focussed on his job to be "The Wall", the final soldier sword drawn to hold his ground before the castle falls. It's quite heartening to see such men get some attention going their way at least once in a while, unasked for but definitely not undeserved.