This week, we celebrated the end of an era, as the 16 year career of one of the most prolific batsmen ever to play the game ended with the retirement of Rahul Dravid from International cricket.

It is actually more difficult than one might think not to make this sound like a eulogy at a funeral, but a lot of cricket fans have been left effectively mourning the loss of such a great man from the sport.

Despite the news being hard to hear for many an Indian player and supporter, there will rarely be a player held in such high regard worldwide and leaving such a legacy on the cricketing stage, as a person and as a cricketer.

It is fascinating that, in sport, when a legend of the game steps down from professional duty, the emotions and opinions of supporters and opponents alike are almost always parallel. Very rarely is a player of such stature and professionalism given a negative send off, but rather maximum respect is shown, even by those whose team has been haunted by the player's talent.

Dravid is one of these legends. A true gentleman, he will be remembered as graceful and unassuming, but more importantly a team player, one who has dedicated his career to his country, not his stats.

We are of a privileged generation lucky enough to have witnessed Dravid carry his bat for India. He's been a batsman for whom the whole ground rises to welcome to the crease, someone who's 36 test centuries have been greeted with recognition from every cricket fan, and a test average of over 50 which sums up his talent.

Without comparing the two, a worldwide standing ovation for Tendulkar when he shuffles to the crease is all very well, but the novelty of waiting for him to reach the ultimate landmark in Test cricket is beginning to wear off. Dravid's exit now puts the focus on Sachin's legitimacy in the team after multiple failures. Dignity was paramount to Dravid, and ‘The Wall’ has toppled with the utmost of it.

Dravid will be missed most by those who value cricket for the game itself, for a man with such temperament and courtesy on and off the field is becoming rarer in today's sporting world, little thanks to football. Technique was of vital importance to him, and defence always came before attack. You could say his batting resembled his personality.

'The Wall' is a metaphor suited to firstly his sturdy defence and secondly his unfailing manners, for he would never snub a child stretching for an autograph, nor speak anything less than the truth to every admiring journalist. Even on his bad day, of which there were quite a few in the one-day format, he would accept criticism as he would a bowler beating his outside edge, with a nod and a smile.

If there is a hole in a wall, it is possible to fix and put right. But when the whole wall has gone, it is very noticeable and a void is left. This will be something the Indian team will have to learn to cope with and in turn replace, if this is possible.

However, Dravid has surely been paramount to the continuous development of the younger generation of Indian talent. Virat Kohli is displaying the beginnings of a faultless technique and a cool head, both being Dravid-esque qualities.

What more of a role model could you ask for than Dravid; professional, dedicated and well-spoken. He is a role model in every sense of the word. It would not surprise me if he was soon to be involved in the Indian ranks again, this time behind the scenes sharing his wisdom. India will never be able to get enough of him.

To finish, I quote a run-of-the-mill Indian cricket fan: "People say Sachin is God…Ganguly is God of the off-side…Laxman is God of the 4th innings…but when the doors of the temple are closed, God is behind The Wall". Looks like you'll be missed Rahul.


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