In sport, there are winners and losers. But for a genuine fan, what matters most is how you play the game. Sport can be elevated to higher levels when the participants start to measure their success against the respect they get from their teammates as well as the opponents. Cricket is supposedly a Gentleman’s Game. Is it now? Despite various initiatives by the custodians to uphold the spirit of the game, acts in line with that theme are few and far between around the world.
Having been and ardent cricket fan for long, I sometimes question myself whether it’s worth the while to spend money and time and continue to be passionate about the game. Distasteful happenings on and off the field where money and power rule the roost, need a spark from time to time to revive the faithful, and once it happened in Cardiff, Wales.
Rahul Dravid played his last ODI in the Champions Trophy, in Johannesburg back in September 2009 before India’s recently concluded tour of England, and he’d assumed that it was his final ODI. However, India’s injury crisis and Dravid’s masterful batting displays in the Test series compelled the selectors to ‘persuade’ him to come out for one last hurrah against England, which even included a Twenty20 debut at the age of 38!
The moment I cherish happened when Dravid walked towards the pavilion. Jonathan Trott slowly walked towards Dravid and then took his cap off before shaking hands.
In his 344th and final ODI on 16 September 2011, Dravid played an important yet typically ‘below the radar’ innings of 69 runs from 79 balls that helped India to go past 300 for the first time in the series. It came to an end when a Graeme Swann tweaker went through the gate to hit the top of his off stump. Swann muted his celebration to walk across to Dravid to shake his hand. So did the entire England team, rushing from all parts of the ground to bid farewell to a legend and a gentleman who has amassed more than 10,000 runs in two forms of the game.
The moment I cherish happened when Dravid walked towards the pavilion. Jonathan Trott slowly walked towards Dravid and then took his cap off before shaking hands. Here, the man who was crowned the ICC Cricketer of the Year 2011 just five days before the match, was respecting and acknowledging the greatness of a worthy opponent in a small but laudable way. It may be due to his upbringing, but Trott’s gesture is a shining example to all cricketers, on how best to play the game.
Thank you, Trott and Dravid, for the wonderful moment.
(This I wrote to The Sunday Times and appeared in its 2 October 2011 edition)