A class act
Rahul Dravid has announced his retirement from international and domestic first-class cricket following a 164-Test career. Sky Sports looks at how his contributions to the game will be remembered.
Last Updated: 09/03/12 9:34am
Indian cricket legend Rahul Dravid oozed class from the very beginning of his wonderful Test career - 95 on debut at Lord's - to his last stand at the Adelaide Oval.
At and away from the batting crease, Dravid's instinct and judgment rarely wavered from a paragon of virtue.
He finishes a 164-Test career with a body of work which amply proves his standing as a modern great.
In cricket, more than most sports, there is an inescapable bottom line. Bare statistics quickly confound the dreamers and wannabes.
Dravid, of course, is neither - and his 13,288 runs at more than 52 from each attempt mean, even accounting for an ever-changing game, his achievements bear comparison with the all-time best.
That goes even for his peerless India contemporary Sachin Tendulkar, out on his own perhaps in any era yet not by all that much from Dravid.
It is a measure of the standards set and maintained by 'The Wall' that he never buckled through a 16-year international career in which his team-mate Tendulkar was accorded so many of the accolades.
In the shadow of the 'Little Master' maybe, yet Dravid simply kept delivering his winning mix of serenity and reliability.
Shunted up and down the order, in front and behind the stumps, the runs and catches - as wicketkeeper and slip - just kept mounting up.
Dravid was not merely the metronomic, methodical accumulator either. If his prosaic nickname was a fair illustration of renowned tenacity and consistency, 'The Wall' never did any justice to Dravid's batsmanship or his demeanour on and off the pitch.
He could be workmanlike, of course, when occasion dictated that his famed determination and concentration were prerequisites.
But there was always something for the casuals in a cricket crowd, as well as the purists, when Dravid's technical precision blossomed into assured attack.
His ever-presence gave licence to other talents such as Virender Sehwag and VVS Laxman. But there was no shortage of days to remember for Dravid himself too - with Laxman in the amazing Eden Gardens turnaround against Australia in 2001, for example, or in England last summer when his three hundreds of the highest class were inevitably bitter-sweet while all around him were struggling so badly on the way to 4-0 defeat.
Dravid's stature is built on more than any of that, though. He and Tendulkar have been the cool and calm India have needed in their era of unprecedented success, not just in a world-record 19 century partnerships together but in their dignity to contrast a country which often goes to extremes.
Last summer encapsulated so much of what Dravid has brought to Indian and world cricket.
At Trent Bridge, aside from a first-innings hundred in adversity which once more encapsulated his worth as a batsman, Dravid's reported role in the diplomatic restoration of relations with the opposition after Ian Bell's 'run-out' was as unsurprising as it was admirable.
Chaos and mistrust reigned after centurion Bell was given out as he wandered off for his tea, unaware that the last ball of the afternoon session had not gone for four but been ferried back from the boundary edge.
It is not a matter of record that Dravid, already off the field at the time resting a minor injury, was the driving force behind recalling Bell after a series of fractious teatime exchanges - and certainly he did not claim to be in his close-of-play press conference.
But if he were it would be entirely in keeping with the revered reputation of a man who has served his country and his sport so conspicuously well, and who cricket will be wise to retain as the safest of ambassadors now that Dravid's exemplary playing days are done.