If cricket were Wonderland, Alice retired this week.
It went and lost one of the nicest bits of wonder it had.
Rahul Dravid announced his retirement from all forms of cricket a few days ago. Many hearts around the globe heaved unhappy sighs and hoped against hope that his 'announcement' was about something other than the obvious.
Ha. We should have been so lucky.
I know there are already a gazillion blog posts up about Dravid. But it's hard to not want to pay tribute to this man, this Sea of Tranquility. So here I am, a more than willing part of the bandwagon and paying my respects to a ridiculously fantastic career, player, gentleman.
Though I've read about his game stats and this memorable century here and those fantastic sixes there - I shall be honest, I don't remember the fine details. So I won't even try to quote them, I won't get them right anyway.
To me, cricket is simple. I love watching the game - always have. I have my favorites and I applaud good fielding, bowling, batting - but yes, I always have a favorite team. And if the boys in blue are playing - well, there you have it. How can they 'not' win? (ok, let's leave current performances aside, yes?)
I watched cricket with Dad as a child and now Dude and I watch it together as well. I've watched certain players for as long as I can remember. One of my favorites was always Dravid. Perhaps initially it was because of his boyish charm and earnest approach to his time at the crease. As time passed and Dravid grew into a more disciplined, thoughtful, meticulous player - my fondness for him grew as well. He somehow seemed to speak volumes with his silence - even if he was just watching his fellow teammates field in the distance.
Every time he would reach any kind of milestone on the field and would take off his helmet and look to the heavens, I think my heart would swell up with a bit of pride too. When he went through a rough patch, I, along with most of the nation, nay, world; sympathized. And we 'always' wanted to see him come back. There was always the belief that he would come back stronger, harder, still dependable, still worth the love he had earned. He rarely disappointed.
Test, one day, T20 - it never mattered. Watching Dravid walk onto the field....was enough for a million fans to hope, pray and cheer for his success.
As a girl, I know a lot of people will think that I don't know the nitty gritty aspects of the game, or his career.
To you lot, I say this - Dravid was a whole lot more, than just the game.
Watching him over the years, Dravid to me, became the calm that Indian cricket seemed to lack.
There was no angrily taking off shirts and waving it around, there were no slaps, there were no middle fingers. There was always calm.
He triumphed, he failed, he struggled - but his body language, his interviews; though one could see his unhappiness several times - the calm still prevailed.
All mums wanted their boys to play cricket like Dravid. He brought back the concept of a cool mind wins more than just the game. He taught the nation that there was an alternative way to playing cricket. In style, form, mind - everything.
His various and well loved strokes and defensive moves, his silent leadership and fantastic representation of the team - only went on to add to the giant mountain of reasons why he is as loved as he is.
In his retirement speech, Dravid said, "The media has been kind to me". He spoke true.
Our Indian media, well known for it's unabashed beating up of well-known figures - found a favorite in Dravid. For nothing other than the fact that he was who he was.
Sans the drama, the attitude, the hoity toity behavior. He was still just Rahul.
In the past few days, I've read a fair bit of negativity about how Sachin may announce his retirement as well, stealing thunder, this and that. (case in point to my earlier media reference!)
Rahul Dravid will never be a Sachin Tendulkar.
Rahul Dravid never needed to. He's perfect the way he is - in a league of his own.
Dude sat in silence when he heard of the retirement. He turned to me and said, "I can't imagine never watching Dravid play again."
If you can manage to evoke that kind of a reaction from an ardent fan when you announce your retirement - you have succeeded more than you could ever possibly know.