When I first read about Rahul Dravid's retirement, the first sentiment that went through my mind was- WOW.
Wow? That's what you would least expect from the biggest Dravid fan ever, right? From someone who's email id is firstname.lastname@example.org. From someone who easily calls Sachin a selfish chutiya if you dare to say that Dravid is a slow coach and a burden on the team (Note- I love Sachin, but I have to punish him for the abuses Dravid receives). From someone who has always defended Dravid in online and offline debates. People ridiculed me all this while. After the England tour, where Dravid scored 3 centuries, and you know who's bat was still silent, only then did people start respecting Dravid. Like, seriously? Do those schmucks even know cricket, that they started respecting an individual scoring centuries at the fag end of his career?
I started watching cricket only during the famous Sharjah series where Sachin went ballistic. It's weird, because I fell in love with the game of cricket because of Sachin and I ended up liking Dravid the most.
I can't pinpoint which shot of his, I liked the most. I think it has to be his straight drives. I find that shot very cheeky, when you hit it right back at the bowler, khekhekhe. I loved his sixes, since the people around me, used to love these apparently 'unexpected' shots. My favourite Dravid moment has to be after we won the Adelaide test, and he kissed his cap. I think that defined the man that he is. Another defining moment was when Michael Slater was sledging the shit outta my man, and Rahul just hung his head and went about his business. People get thrilled when Virat or Uthappa go about sledging or abusing back. Sorry, I don't. I think a sport should be played in a gentlemanly fashion. My When-Has-Dravid-Surprised-You moment was when he ran Inzaman fatty out and Rahul ran away with the ball and celebrated.
I found his habit of putting one leg across the other, when he is on the non-striker end very stylish, somehow. I always used to wonder why he is putting so much weight on one knee. I always wanted to know what he and Dhoni used to talk in the slips. Him and Laxman, okay. Him and Sachin, alright. But what did he and Dhoni have in common? I wanted to know what he thinks about the youngsters. I wanted to know if Kohli and the other bitches were ever rude to him or have ever abused him.
I loved his smile that reaches his eyes. I was jealous of his patience, his gentlemanly behaviour, his way of knowing exactly when to shut up and what to say at the right time. I remember, I cried a lot when he got married. Duh, I was in school then. Gradually, from having a crush on him, it turned to admiration and respect.
Now.. why was WOW my first reaction to reports of his retirement? Because I, his biggest fan, wanted him to quit. I knew he was still not finished. I was being selfish. I was more concerned about the future of the Indian test team. The sooner the seniors are kicked out, the sooner will the kids be able to move into their shoes. I was thinking about the World Test Championship. I was thinking about the No.1 test rank which was stolen from us. It was my obsession to see India do well, that I wanted my hero to quit. So..WOW. He quit for the future of Indian cricket. That dude made me fall in love with him, if possible, more.
As my status message on Facebook said- The only thing that Dravid has ever grabbed was the jam bottle in the Jammy ad.
I will always miss you, Rahul Dravid. You will always be my best man, batsman and the manliest man, ever.