On the 11th Sir Donald Bradman oration, Rahul Dravid was chosen to give speech and as always he showed his excellence with his extra ordinary, thoughtful and studious speech with a pinch of humor. Reflecting on the brilliance of the Donald Bradman, he talked about Cricket – then and now with careful observations from history and understanding the current cricket scenario. He also analysed what changes we should expect in a game of cricket and how we should be prepared for the changes
He started off by drawing a parallel between India and Australia. Not only in terms of Cricket but also how the Australian success against the English team was treated as a success for Indians during pre-independence era. Often, “War”, “Battle”, “fight” are the words being used to describe Cricket nowadays which was a reality at that time because Australia and India were on the same side fighting the English empire during Burma war and World War II. Cricket was a common denominator between India and Australia.
Rahul took pride in saying that he shared one thing with Sir Don Bradman – The No. 3. He laughed off on how different their batting styles are where Bradman could make a ton before lunch but he himself would bat entire day for the same. However, he believed that dignity, integrity, pride, compassion and competitiveness are the values with which Bradman played are still relevant and every cricketer should embody these traits. He emphasized on how Bradman’s praise for the master blaster Sachin Tendulkar meant a lot for every Indian who hardly saw a glimpse of Bradman’s cricketing talent but felt joy in his success.
He also touched upon a common notion in media about Indian cricket as a representative of “Money and Power”. He made it clear that this clichéd image is not true as cricket in India has developed from players coming from all classes, regions, with different mother-tongues and also it involves sacrifices of people surrounding these players. To be able to hold together such a team is Indian captain’s job and all the cricketers who have given a chance to do that have done it with all sincerity. Speaking of holding and working together as a team, he recalled an example of two cricketers from his Under-19 days when two Indian batsmen not knowing a word of each other’s language, made a 100 runs partnership, only because their common language was Cricket.
He mentioned that Indian cricket reflects the country itself. With all the media involvement in Cricket, he firmly said that Cricket is full of stories that are not being talked about (in public). Reciting examples of how talent has its roots deep inside India, he told the story of Indian players like Virender Sehwag who used to travel 84 km for match practice, Umesh Yadav who gave away his police training and a road to Munaf Patel’s home had to be re-constructed for press reporters.
Rahul Dravid known for his humility did not forget fans’ contribution to the game of Cricket. He believed that audience amplifies the atmosphere of a cricket match while remembering Kolkata 2001 test. He asked us to find a clue in how smaller towns are getting huge crowd which has given India her World Cup winning captain. He suggested his fellow cricketers that everything has started from fans, so it’s important that we should respect them first. A wave or smile back towards fans is what they ask for. He remembered 2011 Indian world cup win and how fans were thanking instead of congratulating them for bringing home the glory.
As Cricket has developed into 3 formats, Rahul remains strong on the view that Test cricket deserves to be protected. He mentions it wonderfully that, “Not everyone who fell in love with Test Cricket because they wanted to be a businessman. Not everything of value comes at a price.”
The great wall finished his meticulous speech with a message which is a lesson for everyone in whatever field they might be –
“Winning matters! But how we play is as important (as winning)”