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The Wall. Retires…

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Rahul Dravid retires from international cricket…a glorious, incomparable career comes to an end.

As I was hearing this news since yesterday; thoughts of another sports legend kept coming back to me – Pete Sampras. He and Rahul are very similar, in more than one ways. Their grit, the way they mastered the games they played, the way they are adulated, the glorious run they had and in the way they both will go down the memory lane as two of the most revered of all those who played their game. However, I am reminded of Pete because like Rahul, he was a true gentleman of the game he played.

A keen follower of tennis that I am, I recall reading this piece on Sampras very long ago; it left a strong impression on my mind and helped shape my formative years. Today, I am reminded of it as a befitting similarity it has with that of Rahul’s persona…

“Pete Sampras doesn’t want to destroy the Establishment. He doesn’t scream obscenities, grab his privates, tricolour his hair or date groupies. What he does is smack a tennis ball harder and more accurately than perhaps anyone in the world. “I was always taught to concentrate on the ball, nothing else,” he says, “I know I’m not showy or flamboyant. But this works for me. I am not changing.”

 At the 1992 US Open, Sampras was practicing one day when Martina Navratilova walked up. “Hello, Mr. Summer,” Navratilova said, alluding to Sampras’ winning streak of two tournaments and ultimately 16 matches that summer.

“Uh…no, Ms. Navratilova,” the young, shy man said, “My name is Sampras.”

That is how Dravid played his game, all these years. As an enduringly successful professional, success came to him as an outcome of perseverance, self-discipline and hard work and it did not lead to any unruly or ungentlemanly behaviour. Even when the jury was all out for him to retire several years ago itself, he never retorted via words. Failure did not push him to show his frustrations, either on or off the field. Only gritty knocks followed the rough, trying phases. He demonstrated how one has to deal with challenges more internal than external; take failures in stride and never give in.

In ‘Success Built To Last’, the best-selling and very well-researched book on defining the traits of the successful people, Porras, Emery and Thompson state, ‘Enduringly successful people have found that the answer to their life’s purpose is buried not in the passionate love or pain alone, but in the struggle over both together, working in strange harmony.’ To our Jammy too, greatness came at the intersection of pain and passion.

Today, while announcing his retirement, Rahul, as always, was his calmest best and spoke measured words. What struck me the most was when he said in the press conference, “…it is the time for me to make the way for the younger players…”

Tomorrow, the newspapers will be full of the farewell scripts, accolades and opinions, et al for Rahul. No matter what, no one will be short of praise. However, it will matter whether we indeed remember him through our own conducts, specially the younger generation. Whether we would imbibe what he taught us, from his actions on & off the field. Many of us shall reminisce Rahul as a true professional, a gritty sportsman; as a man of strong character. If character is what you do when no one is watching, then perhaps sportsmanship is conduct with everybody watching! Frankly, the cricket industry would probably survive without sportsmanship. It is so large and so well financed. However, in the much critically acclaimed IPL era of the young and brash, it would be refreshing if more players realized that there is a room to win with flair and style and even get rich and still keep the values that first brought us to the game, just the way Dravid did all these years…

I sincerely do hope Virat Kohli is listening…

Thank you, Jammy. For all that you did for the Indian cricket, for the game of cricket. The sport’s fan, all over the world, shall always remember you ever as one who left the game better that he found it.


Photo-credit 1: coloringinthedark.wordpress.com

Photo-credit 2: art.com

Written by RRGwrites

March 9, 2012 at 1:56 PM

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