Rahul “the wall” Dravid scored 53 runs at the SCG today against the Aussies. He batted for four hours and the slow innings was built on grit and determination alone. His 160 ball effort consisted of 135 dot balls and quite a few close calls (including a catch of a no-ball). It lacked so much in style, stroke play and confidence that you would think that the pitch was a minefield or the bowling was unplayable. And yet, his partner VVS Laxman was for a while going at more than a run a ball and dominated the bowling with classy shots on either side of the wicket.
There will be a lot written about his innings and he may take a lot of flak for the way he played. But, you know what? I applaud his effort. Here is a player short of form and self confidence and he batt(l)ed his own demons (with a bit of luck) to put a mammoth effort. By doing so, he built a valuable 175 run partnership with Laxman. Dravid knows that his innings wasn’t elegant – I didn’t see him raise his bat when he completed his 50, but I am sure the team and his fans know and appreciate the effort. I do.
Although I wish he had rotated the strike more and taken more singles, I appreciate the fact that he had put a high price on his wicket and wasn’t going to give it away easily. I hope the long outing and the fifty has boosted his confidence and he starts playing more like the Dravid who toured Australia the last time around.
The mark of a great player is not to score a big hundred against a weak team when in prime form, but to bat out of your skin for a modest score against a tough opponent when you are struggling for form.
Take a bow, Rahul Dravid!