He might have arguably been the most intense cricketer to ever play for India,but retirement seems to have brought a charming metamorphosis in Rahul Dravid’s demeanour. The former Indian captain has been kept on his toes since he hung up his boots three months ago. Dravid was in the city on Wednesday and he opened up about a variety of issues from being comfortable with the ‘intellectual’ tag to him having been fan of the Hardy Boys comics as a kid.
On his obsession with technique
There are many who would say that I ended up overcomplicating my cricket. But look at it this way,I wasnt ever the best striker of the ball or the most talented player in any team. Even in school,while others would strike the ball well,I would struggle. So that was something I had to work very hard at. So yes,to a certain extent I was obsessed but I also felt that I needed to be that way. But then again,there were points when I felt I went overboard and some senior would come and tell me that I need to smile a little Srinath and Anil did that a lot. So that was a red flag point for me. In much the same way the red flag for a talented stroke-player would be him crossing the line and being too casual about his sport.
It has been a great honour and privilege to captain India. In some ways,I had a taste for it. I was vice-captain for 4 years with a few matches where I was captain and when I had the opportunity,I took it up with a certain amount of enthusiasm and energy. And over a period of time,I discovered it was gone. The World Cup loss probably played a big part in it and it took a big toll on me. I would wake up on some morning and say,Oh god,another game of cricket. I had never felt that way about it. I like to believe I did a pretty decent job of it. If some of those results had gone better,I would have probably stayed in the job for a bit longer like Sourav or Dhoni.
On getting bowled in Australia
In Australia,my timing just went off. And by that I refer to the timing of the bat coming down to meet the ball. I lost that timing,it was a tough tour and I didnt have much time to sit and analyse what seemed to be going wrong. There are some things I tried to rectify and I did. Even though it was the T20 format (IPL),you still had bowlers trying to bowl as straight as possible to get me bowled. And I would like to believe that I had rectified it.
On being less talented
I guess talent in cricket has been judged in different ways. For us talent always meant someone who could play pretty shots and make it look easy. It was never about determination or mental strength or more such categories. For example,I remember playing a match against Vinod Kambli,who was one of the cleanest strikers of the ball I had ever seen,at Rajkot. And he hit the first ball he faced from Anil Kumble for a huge six. I was amazed. That was talent. But then again,when it came to determination or mental strength,Sachin probably had a lot more in those categories than Kambli. I would probably say that I was probably a little blessed in those categories as well.
On the attitude of youngsters in cricket today
I was never much of TV watcher. I would prefer a book. That was my release. Nothing else afforded me the same luxury. And when we would have the time,we would sit and listen to the seniors and veterans talk about the game. But these days the distractions are a lot more. There is so much more to do. Who would want to spend time in a smelly dressing room? They probably talk about cricket a little less. They may get together and still be talking about the game in their rooms but it’s not the same casual environment that I grew up in. As a young cricketer,I remember taking long train journeys from Bangalore to Calcutta and listening to the likes of GR Vishwanath and Syed Kirmani seniors talking about the game. A lot of my cricket learning came from there. We would talk to them or eavesdrop when they were talking. People still do that. We probably dont notice them as much.
On never getting angry
I never really got angry too much because I realised early that when I did get angry when someone managed to get inside my balloon or I wanted to prove someone wrong,I would never play well. The only time I did get angry in the dressing room was during a Test match against England in 2006 in Mumbai. I had won the toss and elected to bowl (which in hindsight was not a good decision) and then we had gone on to lose the match. We had come into the match leading the series 1-0 and then to see ourselves capitulate to defeat on the last day made me really angry. I was partly angry with myself. (Laughing) I did absolutely crush the chair though.
On a future in cricket
I want to be involved with the sport in some way but I dont know what that form will be. Sometimes,it is not a bad idea to step away and I believe that it will be good for me to step away and live a real life.