Tag: Rahul Dravid (page 1 of 2)

The day after Sachin Tendulkar announced his retirement there’s only one thing to do

And that’s make a really obvious and not-particularly-funny joke about something entirely unrelated which would have been timely had it appeared seven months ago, but which probably still wouldn’t have been original even then.

Brace yourselves…

So, hey, is Justin Timberlake’s ‘new’ album, like, all about Twenty20 cricket or what then? Hmm? Hmm?

It’s called The 20/20 Experience, you see, so maybe there’s a song about the required run-rate climbing to over nine-an-over and another about how the batsman’s just hit three ‘maximums’ in a row.

Maybe there’s a song about sitting at a county ground, wondering whether anyone among the smattering of spectators shivering in the cold really appreciates the five second blasts of a song by none other than Justin Timberlake each time someone hits a four.

One of the songs on the album is (genuinely) called Don’t Hold The Wall. Who would have expected wise words from Justin Timberlake on the subject of respecting Rahul Dravid’s personal space.

[Categorises post under ‘Rahul Dravid’]

Rahul Dravid: the barometer of class

Rahul Dravid doing some proper cap batting

Looking through the archives, we’ve written surprisingly little about Rahul Dravid. Many of his best innings predate the site and also – partly as a result of that – we’ve always just assumed that everyone knew how good he was.

Forward defensives

They call him The Wall. It’s meant as a compliment, but it misses the point. Walls do a job, but they’re unremarkable and limited. You can paint them and dress them in wallpaper, but they basically do just one thing. If Rahul Dravid was just a guy in a helmet playing immaculate forward defensives, he would never have hit 13,000 Test runs and 10,000 one-day international runs.

Attacking shots

Dravid provided one of our formative cricket-watching experiences, if there is such a thing. It was a 1999 World Cup match against Sri Lanka when he and Sourav Ganguly shared a ludicrous partnership that took India from 6-1 to 324-2. Dravid was run out at that point and Ganguly then started hitting sixes to reduce Dravid’s 145 to ‘support act’ status. That was so often the case. Best bridesmaid ever.

Subtle shots

Dravid could do things that no-one else could do. When it comes to batting averages, not every innings is equal. The last year or so of his Test career shows this as well as anything. There was a hundred in tough batting conditions in the Windies and then three in England against some very, very good bowling. He got his fair share of double hundreds, but his Test average of 52.31 was built on innings where the value was greater than the numbers might make you think.

At Nottingham, some of his singles required more skill and timing than 99 per cent of the boundaries that we see and with the going tougher than old biltong, they were arguably worth more too. It was batting for cricket connoisseurs: skill, experience, dexterity and intelligence changing people’s perception of what was possible in that situation.

His 146 not out at The Oval – carrying his bat as a stand-in opener – was almost as impressive in its own way. Faced with an England first innings score of 591-6, Dravid’s fellow Indian batsmen were showing all the resilience of a spaghetti portcullis. That can be infectious, but Dravid not only refused to get out, he showed younger team mates precisely how much better a batsman could be.

Just a Test cricketer?

There’s a case for saying that Rahul Dravid has as much batting experience as any player in history. There are batsmen who’ve played more Tests, but his career has also coincided with the era of the one-day international and the rise of Twenty20 (in which he has held his own).

It’s hard to imagine there’s a situation in cricket that he hasn’t faced. 120 to win, three wickets in hand, cloudy conditions, fifth day pitch, left-arm quick round the wicket? Yep, been there. 15-overs to go, run-rate eight-an-over, flat pitch, 40 degrees, finger-spinner, field spread? Yep, been there too. Been everywhere. Seen everything. Know what to do.

Maybe this is why it’s time to go. It’s great for fans to have a barometer of class; a tool which allows them to gauge how well everyone else is batting; but what does Rahul Dravid get out of playing on? We reckon he could bounce back from a poor tour of Australia, but why bother? He’s 40 soon and there’s virtually nothing left for him to see or do as a cricketer.

He’s smart as hell and speaks better and more thoughtfully than most people on earth – maybe he can set the standard in some other way. We’ll still miss him though.

When Dravid is better than Tendulkar and Sehwag

Quite possibly our favourite cricketer at the minute

We went overboard with the Tour de France references last month, so we’ll avoid making one here, even though we want to.

Just as you can win the Vuelta a Espana without winning a single stage, so you can be considered the best batsman without being the best in every set of circumstances.

Sachin Tendulkar has a pretty solid claim to being the best batsman in the world because he’s scored plenty of runs in every country in every format of the game. That doesn’t mean he’s the best Indian batsman in seaming conditions though.

You’d have to go with Rahul Dravid, wouldn’t you? His cuts and deflections might not be so eye-catching as a booming six over cow corner, but each one demands exceptional skill, timing and judgement.

Virender Sehwag goes the opposite way – he is a worse batsman in seaming conditions. That isn’t to say that he becomes a bad batsman and it isn’t to say that he can’t score hundreds. It’s just to say he’s less likely to be successful. His method isn’t fundamentally flawed, it’s just not so well-suited to English conditions – it’s a question of degrees, not extremes.

Batting averages

Most of you know that we’ve little time for batting averages as evidence. They give a decent overview of a player, but the idea that Johnny Batstab is better than Micky Flingblade because he averages 1.3 more than him is a load of bollocks.

Averages reward certain players more than others. If you’re the kind of batsman who scores quickly and heavily on flat pitches but struggles against pace and swing, you’ll probably have a higher average than a guy who is best at getting runs in low scoring games.

Rahul Dravid’s career average of 53 is built on a reasonably eye-catching average of 50.75 in home conditions, but it is garnished by an average of 68.80 in England. There, he has scored six hundreds in 13 matches in what are frequently trying batting conditions – particularly for tourists.

In cycling terms, Dravid can hold his own in the time trials as well as the mountain stages.

Rahul Dravid can cope with a good pitch

This is a good pitch. It has led to good cricket.

A one-day pitch can be flat, because the game progresses with each over, but Test matches progress with the fall of wickets. When a match is progressing, other events other than wickets also matter more. It is how Test cricket should be.

A flat pitch tests the relentlessness and concentration of batting sides, but little more. A pitch like this one at Trent Bridge tests those things to a lesser degree, but it also tests skill and decision-making. A hundred in this context is worth so, so much.

Dravid’s value

Rahul Dravid hit a hundred and it is innings like his that remind you why a batsman’s average doesn’t directly correspond to his value. Dravid’s average is high, obviously, but if Thilan Samaraweera is a better batsman than he is, we’ll start going on work nights out at the next available opportunity.

Samaraweera is a good batsman too, but his 231 during this absolute horrow show boosted his average more than Dravid’s 117 yesterday – that’s the point we’re making. We’d describe exactly why Dravid’s innings was so good, but we have little to add to Mike Selvey’s dissection of it.

In not entirely unrelated news

Ravi Bopara achieved something similar this week. Overshadowed by a Test match and David Masters’ bizarre figures of 8-10 in the same fixture, Bopara’s innings has been lost a bit.

Only two of 44 indvidual innings in the Essex v Leicestershire match were of over 40. Billy Godleman made 77. Ravi Bopara made 178. That is exceptional.

However, while the pitch added to the challenge and therefore the achievement, County Championship second division bowling detracts from it.

What detracted from Dravid’s innings? Nothing. That is Test cricket.

Get The Wall on the board

It’s not the usual way round, but it makes a lot of sense if you follow cricket. Rahul Dravid should be on the Lord’s honours board. And now he is.

After Dravid made his hundred, there were a lot of people implying that he has played in the shadow of Sachin Tendulkar. If that’s true, it’s a very faint shadow as if there are a large number of light sources in the immediate vicinity, because we’ve considered him to be one of the finest batsmen of all time for about as long as we can remember and so has pretty much everyone else we’ve ever spoken to about him.

Rahul Dravid deserves a better nickname than The Wall. Walls are always dotted with Polyfilla. Dravid’s classier than that.

Call Rahul Dravid if you need a grown-up to do a job for you

Call yourself a wall? Walls don't do that

Gambhir, Sehwag, Tendulkar and Yuvraj aren’t playing against the West Indies, so there were plenty of chances for India’s up-and-coming batsmen to make their mark. Suresh Raina got 82 in the first innings and Harbhajan 70, but other than that it’s all been eights, twelves and fifteens.

But batting’s been tricky. The Windies have struggled too. Adrian Barath’s the only West Indian to have made it past 27. Can no-one score on this pitch?

Yes, of course they can. Rahul Dravid made a hundred and quite frankly, everything is right with the world. If you’re wondering how he did it when everyone else has struggled, you might like to spend a split second pondering the simple fact that Rahul Dravid is better than everyone else.

There’s no need to scrutinise this too much.

First-class batting under lights

Earlier in the year, Dravid accepted an offer to play for MCC against Nottinghamshire in Abu Dhabi. It was a day-night first-class match and by all accounts the ball darted about a fair bit. Dravid made a duck in the first innings and when Nottinghamshire were then bowled out for 108, we wondered why Dravid was there.

He’s Rahul Dravid. He can do what he likes. Why would he risk getting a relatively high profile pair in a first-class match which is really beneath him? Unconcerned by all of this, Dravid promptly hit a hundred.

Then, as an encore, he deflated all the arguments about the ‘unfairness’ of the ball doing more when the lights came on. His argument was as elegantly simple as his batting:

“Conditions change in Test matches and they change here.”

Rahul Dravid still has some runs to score

Did anyone outside India really think that Rahul Dravid should have been dropped at any point during his relatively prolonged spell of poor form? We certainly didn’t. It’s Rahul Dravid.

Looking back now, it seems that run of poor form ended about this time last year in Mohali when he hit 136 against England. Today’s 177 not out against Sri Lanka was his first Test hundred since then, but he’s been steadily knocking fifties, so when India fell to 32-4, they had the right man for the job.

His eyes had gone

As soon as batsmen get into their thirties, spells of poor form are greeted with pronouncements about their eyes going or that they’re ‘past it’. It’s rarely true. Steve Waugh retired at 38. He may have scored a bit slower, but he averaged 70-odd in his last year of Test cricket. Graham Gooch hit hundreds into his forties. Mark Ramprakash is still in the form of his life and he’s 40 now.

With a batsman as good as Rahul Dravid, a bad patch is just that – even at the age of 36 (nearly 37). India’s much-maligned selectors deserve credit for persevering with ageing big names when there have been a lot of calls for change. Poor form in younger players is more easily tolerated, but you have to acknowledge that players like Rahul Dravid don’t come around all that often.

Rahul Dravid: best bridesmaid ever

Rahul Dravid hit his 10,000th Test run today en route to his 25th Test hundred. It’s a little bit overshadowed by Sehwag’s triple hundred, but that’s pretty much the way it goes for Dravid.

Dravid was very much the support act for Sehwag yesterday, hitting 68 in a partnership worth 268. Stunning innings like Sehwag’s can’t happen without a batting partner though and it’s no coincidence that The Wall was protecting the other set of stumps during VVS Laxman’s sublime 281 against Australia as well. In between all the forward defensives he found time to tot up 180, which is some second fiddle – a second fiddle encrusted with rubies, played by a perfectionist, perhaps.

Today’s 111 saw Dravid’s average edge above that of the man who’s overshadowed him most throughout his career. Rahul Dravid averages 55.41 in Test cricket. Sachin Tendulkar now averages 55.31 after registering a duck. With Sehwag only adding 10 to his overnight total, perhaps he and Tendulkar were merely being gracious enough to give Dravid a day of his own.

We move that Dravid’s day becomes a national – no – international holiday, so that he’ll get the respect he deserves for all eternity. There’s nothing like a day off to heighten your appreciation of someone.

Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid are back

Virender Sehwag hit a typically outrageous hundred at the weekend against a group of bowlers we’ve never heard of. Some might say that it wasn’t testing enough to warrant a return to the Test side, but Virender Sehwag doesn’t really work like that.

Whether Virender Sehwag succeeds is largely down to him. He goes after pretty much anything, so even a half-volley can get him if it’s wide enough. The exact same delivery might find the edge of his bat one day or be pummelled by the middle of it the next. It just depends how he’s feeling. 29 today was neither here nor there though.

Rahul Dravid hasn’t actually been away, it just seems like he has. He must have some profound psychological problem with opening the batting, because while he’s looked painfully laboured as an opener in the first two matches of this series, having moved back to three (which isn’t all that different) he’s made a quite respectable 93.

Maybe you could get more out of Dravid if you made him open but didn’t let him know. His partner could walk out first and then shortly afterwards Anil Kumble could say: ‘Balls. Jaffer/Sehwag’s out,’ and Dravid could follow, convinced he was an invincible number three, rather than Mark Richardson with only a third of the shots.

India have turned a clearly dominant position into a so-so one by losing their last two specialist batsmen near the close of play. You shouldn’t do that against Australia.

We’ve deliberately made this post even more boring than our usual dross, because we’re still inwardly smarting at the groundswell of apathy that greeted our Matthew Hayden update the other day. That was better than five comments (one from us).

Actually, we’ve just read it again and maybe it isn’t all that good…

Rahul Dravid resigns Indian captaincy

He was a reluctant captain. He was a reluctant wicketkeeper. When will people realise: All Rahul Dravid is interested in is batting.

And batting and batting and batting.

Fancy a bowl, Rahul?

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