Think of him,and many would picturize the scenes of a dead-bat offered to a delivery in line with the stumps,a perfect leave to anything pitched outside,swaying away from a vicious bouncer and the description goes on.Those glued to the entertainment aspect of Cricket,would be finding him dull,insipid and maybe a player that has far outlived the bygone era, an era where Test cricket was a real test of the batsman's character!The Wall,today may seem out of place,particularly with the introduction with the slam-bang 20 overs shortened format but if a keen student of this game is reading this,he/she must be knowing what exactly ,I'm stressing upon!
But this isn't a post to shower praise on him,but to state a stark reality-'The wall-the unsung hero' .The stats are all in favor of him,but stats are something that don't tell you the whole story! well,unless you micro-analyze, they definitely don't.They certainly don't consider factors like
1)Quality of bowlers(You can't judge a bowler's quality by his team's quality.As per me,someone like Shakib-Ul-Hasan of Bangladesh is a far better spinner than Nathan lion of Australia)
2)The type of pitch,the environment(stats never say whether is was reverse-swinging or turning square!!)
3)The match-situation(Coming in at 8 for 2 is much difficult than 100 for 1!!)
and much more that are beyond practical-consideration of any statistician.....
A head on comparison between Sachin and Dravid,and I wouldn't be surprised if someone starts belying the share of appreciation 'The wall' has got....Far far lesser than the share he deserved!Here goes the comparison( It no way intends to under-estimate the greatness of Sachin but to give a true estimation of Dravid's calibre.A comparison of the wall by the highest standards available.)
I have deliberately included the crucial ones and omitted the misleading ones(Matches don't matter,innings do,Strike rate in tests for me is immaterial ....)
A minuscule difference in the tests average,the 50's right up there with the man .....Sachin ,for me still a much greater player but Dravid is certainly the no.2 and far ahead of any other contender.
And you bring into consideration the note worthy points,beyond stat books-
~How many times has 'the wall' walked in the first few overs ,to face the brand new cherry and successfully blunted many new ball attacks? making it a hell lot easier for the famous middle order.
~No opener?The wall steps in.
~No wicket-keeper?The wall steps in.
~No captain?The wall steps in.
~And how about the occasions,where the Wall is put to test on grassy lively pitches as No.3 by many a captains and shockingly slated down on flat beds!!utterly unfair!
'TheWall' for me is the face of Indian Cricket,right up there with the little maestro.He is as deserving for Bharat Ratna as Sachin is!Atleast a strong contender..It seems really strange that his name is not even being discussed as a potential contender!
If ever any Indian could come close to equaling the greatness of Sachin,its him.Reminded of a quote made by Glenn Mcgrath in his interview-"If any Indian batsman could walk-in in the all time Aussie11,its Dravid!"
The Wall has stood the test of time and still stands tall.Its awesome to see him strike such a rich form at the fag end of his career.And don't be surprised to see many more of classical on-drives,the fluent straight drive,the trademark leg-glance and the square-cuts flowing smoothly from the perfectionist's blade!!