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Rahul Dravid, one of the most respected cricketers in history, has announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket at a press conference in Bangalore.
Dravid, currently 39, has devoted his life to Indian cricket for 16 years and is known across the world as the wall of India.
During the press conference, he looked deeply saddened as he announced his decision to retire. “It is 16 years since I played my first Test match for India and today I feel it is time to move on. Once I was like every other boy in India, with a dream of playing for my country. Yet I could never have imagined a journey so long and so fulfilling” he said.
Dravid had represented India in 164 test matches, scoring 13,288 runs at an average of 52.31, which is currently the second-highest in all time cricketing history. Furthermore he is the most successful overseas batsman, in a list which he is ranked above legends, such as West Indies Brian Lara and Australia’s Ricky Ponting.
He is also ranked seventh of the all time runs list in ODI cricket. His contribution of 10,889 runs in 344 matches at an average of 39.16, saw India through some rough times.
Twenty20 International cricket was an area which Dravid did not get involved in much during his career. He believed the format was detrimental to test cricket’s reputation, and even told the world so during the Donald Bradman Oration in December 2011. However, Dravid did play one Twenty20 International for India and will be remembered for clubbing three massive sixes in a row against England.
Kevin Pietersen, who was on the England side during Dravid’s only Twenty20 International, paid tribute via Twitter: “Rahul Dravid, what a legend. Plain and simple. Congratulations on an incredible career. India will miss The Wall.”
In his speech, Dravid mentioned how fortunate he was, during his illustrious career, to build forever lasting friendships on and off the cricket pitch. “In the Indian team, I was fortunate to be part of a wonderful era when India played some of its finest cricket at home and abroad. Many of my teammates have become legends, not just in India but in the wider cricketing world. I admired them, learnt from them and I leave the game with wonderful memories and strong friendships. It is a great gift to have” he said.
Before becoming a full-fledged member of the Indian team, Dravid captured the Indian selection committee’s attention through his dominating performances in the domestic league with Karnataka.
He had a very positive start to international test career, with an impressive 95 against England at Lord’s in 1996. His crowning achievement came in 2004 when he produced a typical Rahul Dravid innings of 270 not out against rivals Pakistan. The innings also went down in the history books as the longest by an Indian batsman in test matches, lasting approximately 12 hours.
His ODI career did not start with as big as a bang, as he only scored three runs in debut against Sri Lanka at Singapore. However, this trend only lasted a short amount of time as he soon became a recognised and reliable one day batsman. He is the man to hold two triple hundred partnerships, 331 and 318, which rank first and second on the partnership leader board.
Dravid also made a special mention of his family, who, according to him have helped make his career what it is today. “My wife, Vijeeta, has been a remarkable partner in my journey. She has made sacrifices in her own career and has almost been a single parent as she brought up our children alone as I travelled abroad to play. Whenever challenges appeared, she was always there, as sounding board, as ally and as guide. Being away from my family became harder and harder through the years and I look forward now to spending time at home and doing the simple things, like just taking my sons to school.”
Legendary spinner Shane Warne backed up Dravid’s comments by saying: “I wish my friend Rahul Dravid and his family all the best in his retirement! I have total respect for him.”
Throughout his career, Dravid was awarded several prestigious accolades. In 2000 he was named as one of the top five Wisden cricketers of the year. His batting exploits can be further praised as he batted for 173 consecutive innings in both tests and ODIs without a duck, between 2000 and 2004, which is the longest sequence for any batsman without duck. The International Cricket Council have seen the true brilliance of the man, when they presented him with the ICC Player of the Year and Test Player of the Year in 2004. Finally, what can be looked at as his greatest accomplishment, is the record 210 catches he took during his test career.
As Dravid wisely stated: “No dream is ever chased alone.” He was also quick to praise the passionate and loyal Indian fans, and said: “I would like to thank the Indian cricket fan, both here and across the world. The game is lucky to have you and I have been lucky to play before you. To represent India, and thus to represent you, has been a privilege and one which I have always taken seriously.”
This was the cue for Dravid to announce his retirement from all forms of the game. “It is why I leave with sadness but also with pride” he said. As soon as the news was announced the cricketing world knew that India had lost a part of their heart and soul.
Sachin Tendulkar, Dravid’s long time teammate had some touching words for him and the cricket community, saying: “There was and is only one Rahul Dravid.”