Call him ‘Mr. Dependable’, ‘The Wall’ or by any other name that you want. These nicknames don’t matter much to Rahul Dravid. He goes on doing his job quietly without the expectation of any acknowledgement. A gentleman cricketer, inspiring coach and a true team man, that’s Jammy for you. The fourth highest Test run-getter turns 44 today.
In India, cricket is a religion and Sachin Tendulkar is hailed as a god. I have immense respect for him as a cricketer. But as a batsman, I believe Dravid was better than him.
Die-hard fans of Sachin will lynch me for saying this. After all, numbers are tilted in favour of the Master Blaster who played 200 Tests for India. I do not question his greatness and batting acumen. But Dravid according to me, had an upper hand over him when it comes to batting in tough conditions.
Before I put forward my case, let us read what former Pakistani speedster Shoaib Akhtar said about the two batsmen being compared in my piece. In an interview with Wisden India, he said:
Sachin made me a star! So I’m thankful to him. He’s a great batsman, without a doubt. He can play better than anyone else. When he got going, he was a nightmare. But the biggest nightmare I ever faced was Rahul Dravid. He used to bore me. He was the first batsman who could intimidate me, in terms of when he walked in, I knew I would have to field for at least two sessions more.
That was the compliment from Shoaib Akhtar who shot to fame after dismissing both Dravid and Tendulkar off successive deliveries at Eden Gardens in 1999. Five years later, Dravid tormented the Rawalpindi Express at the latter’s home turf with a brilliant knock of 270 in the series decider, which went in India’s favour.
This is just one example of Dravid’s greatness. It was he who showed that India could win matches outside the subcontinent. If we talk about numbers, Dravid scored 1,577 runs in 15 overseas Tests which India won during his career, at an average of 65.70. On the other hand, Tendulkar had 1,219 runs at an average of 60.95.
Besides this, Dravid won eight of his 11 man-of-the-match awards outside India, with five of them resulting in a winning cause. On the other hand, Tendulkar could only garner one MoM out of the 14 awards he received outside the home that won India a Test match. Plus, Dravid has won four man-of-the-series awards outside India, as compared to the Master Blaster’s two.
Let me give you some more numbers. Dravid has been involved in a whopping eighty-eight century stands both home or away in his Test career—a number that is three more than that of Sachin. We know statistics are not the parameters to compare both the batting greats. But it was Dravid’s temperament which assured cricket fans that he would be able to take the team home.
Salute to the true gentleman of the game!