The article that inadvertently got me into Rediff*

*A friend forwarded this blogpost to someone he knew at Rediff, and they mailed in asking if I would write for the sports section. I was incredulous, because they had the one and only Prem Panicker. I did scribble a couple of cricket pieces but became their F1 columnist.. and one thing, as they say, led to another.


The Mediocrity Of Being Out Of Range

Some people are just not destined for greatness.

There is a tremendous unbridgeable difference between the very good and the great. The Good, gripping all their vast reserves of natural talent and indomitable spirit, push forward, either impetuously or stoically, and grind on, doing absolutely everything it is humanly possible to do. Theirs is a quest it is hard to raise a finger toward, and nearly impossible to demand higher stakes from. They give their all, and we appreciate and applaud.

The Great, on the other hand, sometimes do not even cover all the above ground so comprehensively. Or, at least, visibly. What they bring to our everyday existences is sublime magic and jaw-slacking awe. And the realization that these are the people who live beyond the confines of normality, these are the supermen, albeit uncaped. And, as we understand this, we demand more. And more. And more. Relentless, unceasing. Nothing is ever good enough. At this, The Great smile, throw their heads back, and continue, stretching towards an ultimate perfection.

No matter what the achievement, The Great will be dissatisfied, incomplete. This is what spurs them on. Inevitably, they fail. And this final, unreal failure is what pulls the mantle of true excellence tighter, more permanently, around their shoulders. Lesser men would pale at the thought of living with it; greatness is not for us all.


Thankfully, a certain Mr. Dravid will never have to worry about this. He will forever remain entrenched in being very very Good indeed. As said, there is no doubting his talent, the man is a masterful technician. As cameras zoom in on his helmeted head and the sweat drips down by the gallon, even as he hits it through the covers for four, we are reminded of how hard he works. And how important he is to us, how valuable.

Today, India made history. We beat Pakistan by an innings, and more. In Pakistan. This is the stuff of absolute folklore. Rahul Dravid happened to be captain. What will he be remembered for? His stellar contribution of six runs in the Indian innings? His magnificence in building a fabulous, new-look, young Indian side? No. He will be remembered for carving a new chapter in ridiculous personal insecurity, the ingrate.

We all know what happened: Tendulkar 194*. The declaration was apparently made in favour of giving us the best possible chances for a win. Sachin turned to the pavilion, and was visibly stunned. After having played the cautious foil to a superb innings, he had just begun to cut loose, to treat the world to an exhibition of inimitable batting. He seemed uncharacteristically pained by the decision, and this was not because he missed out on a double ton: it was because he felt let down. Et Tu, Rahul?

It is also bad captaincy. Ponting, Haq, Waugh, Miandad, Dev – a prolific list of captains felt outraged. For a second, forget that we are talking about Sachin. If one of your main batsmen had a particularly disastrous 2003, and is working himself back to form, with an undismissed rampage of runs against the world’s most feared bowlers, you let him take his second double ton on the trot, dammit. By the way, I’m curious: how many Indian batsmen have scored successive 200s, Rahul? [“The team is bigger than the individual,” was constantly parroted around on the day. “In this case”, said Dean Jones, “It’s hardly an accurate description.”]

Sachin, of course, is totally unfazed. The Great hardly ever need to even bounce back. It was heartbreaking to see him at the press conference that evening, looking visibly stirred, disappointed, surprised. He will go on, unabated, scoring his runs. O’Four, a year which is yet to see him dismissed, looks like it might be another of the unforgettable ones. His innings has been martyred into legend, like Gavaskar’s last innings 96, and is all the more memorable just because he was denied the last six runs.

dravid1Called to the dias, the winning captain today seemed to forget his was an extremely temporary, stand-in role. Kapil wrote about how the win should be dedicated to what he referred to as Sachin’s supreme sacrifice. Hah. The injured original leader stood, his black t-shirt visibly distancing him from the boys in their whites, his boys, and looked on as Rahul collected the accolades, and did not even credit Saurav. His is an arrogant, egoist heart, and it must have bled. Rahul might have to face consequences when the Prince returns. He deserves it, and I daresay it might provoke many a grin.

What really gets me is that I have always liked Dravid. He’s a good batsman, but that’s that: consistency redeems the lack of strokeplay, the sheer ordinariness of his shots salvaged by the man’s gritty doggedness. This match showed us who he was, as opposed to what he can do, and it was a disappointing awakening. Respect flew out of the window. Mediocrity of being an also-ran is going to hound this man forever. Greatness is something he can only dream of, and I would advise him not to.

The man has collected several epithets in his time – The Wall, Jammy, Mr. Dependable, and even, very recently, God. Let me do the deed and add the definitive:

Rahul Dravid, twat.


Blogged on April 1, 2004.


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  1. Purely-Narcotic

    There you go dissing Dravid again!

    1. rajasen

      Not *again*, this was the first time :)

  2. Kunal

    that was a powerful read… I am an ardent Dravid admirer (and a Sachin worshiper), and I’ve to admit that after reading this my respect for Dravid has gone down a bit.

    1. rajasen

      Wow, that’s the ideal response. Yay :)

  3. slash\\

    Five years hence, would you stick to your hypothesis in hindsight? Considering he was subsequently made a full-time captain, and wasn’t too successful even then.

    1. rajasen

      Completely. I think captaincy exposed us all to the chinks in his persona. The insecurity and lack of leadership continue to haunt him — just watch the Royal Challengers in action.

      1. slash\\

        But then, even Tendulkar didn’t make a good skipper as well. So where does the theory of “great players do not make great captains” go? Even good players like Dravid don’t make the cut. Dhoni is a good captain; but not the greatest wicket keeper. Ganguly was a pauper on the leg side. But then, Imran Khan was a good captain + player. So we can safely assume there’s no theorem attached to this whole thing.

  4. Prakriti

    I read about the Good Vs Great theme in B School. Jim Collins wrote a book on it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_to_Great

    It ain’t that great, the book. But the comment stayed in my head since then. “Great is not the next step to good. Infact, Good is the enemy of great. ”

    The set of centuries by Dravid in NZ when all was crumbling around him. That is what had always defined him for me.

    He would be an ideal person to write a book!

    1. rajasen

      Interesting quote. Am never going to doubt Dravid’s consistency, of course. But for me after this I always saw his batting as akin to carpentry while Sachin, VVS and SG were virtuoso artists.

  5. Radha

    Now that you called Dravid names, I dont like you a little..

    1. rajasen

      A friend asked if I’d have published the same article today. I said yes, but probably without that last line.
      Works for you now? :)

      1. Radha

        Nope.. doesn’t work..
        He’s a great man and irrespective of a 48 in IPL or a 150 in a test match, he’s one of our most valuable sportsmen..
        For a country that was so used to being robbed of cricketing glory by Azhar and captaincy cum politics by Dada, we sure should know and acknowledge the value of a gentleman amidst us..

        1. Saurya

          With all due respect Radha,

          Everybody has flaws…including Dravid. The article is precisely on such an incident which exposed his human flaws. Rahul Dravid doesnt become any less of a cricketer by being “insecure” or “lacking in leadership qualities”. We all respect him for what he is, including, maybe being a gentleman.

          But to put him on a pedestal at the cost of other cricketers (who in their own right have made contributions to indian cricket)…pidgeon-holing them as per your opinion to establish Dravid’s credentials is a rather narrow minded approach and maybe even unfair on Dravid…

          Rahul Dravid is a good cricketer independent of that (even with his obvious shortcomings)…and he is as good as a Dada as a cricketer and almost as good as Dada as a captain!

  6. Anna Bond

    Interesting take Raja.
    I agree that the declaration was a mistake, but I’ve always felt that Dravid was a consummate team man. He probably wasn’t cut out for captaincy, but he also had the 16 consecutive chase victories (and was a terrific ODI batsman during that period). So I’m a little on the fence on this one.
    But it’d be great to see more sports stuff coming from you :)

  7. Mayank Sinha


    I do agree with parts of your article but your comment on him being a carpenter is far fetched man. Tendulkar is in a different league but not SG or Laxman. I mean SG against fast shor pitch bowling is nothing short of funny so in that respect its unfair on Dravid.
    As far as captaincy goes well I will use a quote by Michael Vaughan—-“To be a successful captain you need a bit of bastard in your blood”…..
    and that is why SG was successful and Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman (for Deccan Chargers 2008) were not.

  8. Slogger

    I still haven’t forgiven Dravid for that declaration…perhaps never will. But ‘lack of strokeplay’? ‘Ordinariness of his shots’? That’s pushing it a little. The man plays the best square cut in world cricket. His straight drive is next only to Sachin’s and don’t forget, when green pitches and nippy bowlers were making our top order hop like Kangaroos in nappies, Dravid was the only one who came out looking like a batsman.
    PS: Finally some cricket dude. Now we’re getting somewhere.

  9. Nadeem C

    For once, I agree with your article (compared to most of the movie reviews on Rediff). Dravid’s captaincy, for me too, will be the biggest chink in my memory of him. I have always been a very very big fan of the man. His consistency, work-hard-no-matter-what attitude, approach and sincerity, etc etc….I don’t think anyone can forget him leading us to test victory in Aus in 2003-04. But captaincy just did not work for him. Pulling out his support for SG (don’t know if he got brain-washed thanks to G Chappal), this declaration, and poor performance. For some reason, it seemed like he was possessed during that period.
    However, I do not agree that his shots were ordinary, carpenter-like. Dravid might not be the most elegant/eloquent batsmen but he is far from being ordinary in his strokes. Bookish maybe, but not ordinary.

  10. Neeraj

    bad, bad, bad.
    instead of “et tu dravid”, i feel like saying “et tu raja”??
    did not know u were a dravid basher… seems u r still one…
    felt like spanking sachin for salivating for that double… he’d more than enough time to push for that one..ah.. when will we start seeing him in the right prespective.!!
    well… all i can say is that..it’s good i was not the guy who read the article at rediff..
    (it’s written well though… but u know what i mean.)

  11. Shailendra

    Maybe an article on God, for completing 20 years in International cricket. When legends like Tiger Woods are crumbling off field, it’s refreshing to see someone like Sachin who has his values intact, who has not allowed fame to go to his head.

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