"The Wall" should be the nickname given to a Mark Richardson (New Zealand), an Alistair Cook (England) or any player in a similar mould. Dravid was much much more than that. We have all at some point or the other delighted in his delicious cover drives, those cracking square cuts and those gorgeous flicks through the leg side. For a man with a reputation of being a plodder, it is easy to forget that the great man once hit a 22 ball 50 against New Zealand, and hit 3 huge sixes in his one and only T20 international. In short, "The Wall" is perhaps the most unfair name ever given to any player in the history of the game.
Has Dravid been an "unsung hero"? Some of his big hundreds have indeed come alongside another batsman scoring bigger and more attractive runs. But does that diminish the value of those hundreds? Of course not. In most of those innings where Dravid was supposedly overshadowed, the innings at the other end would probably not have happened if Dravid didn't fight and stick around. Simple as that. For example, without Dravid's 180 (batting at number 6) there wouldn't be a Laxman 281. So to say that Dravid played "second fiddle" or that his innings was "overshadowed" in such instances is merely an insult to the greatness of those innings.
Dravid will forever be remembered as our colossus abroad. For years and years while the rest of our batting line up struggled to cope in the bounce of Australia, the movement in England and the combination of both in South Africa, Dravid was our gladiator, dodging the lions, smacking the wolves, surviving and keeping us in the game. A gladiator. That was what he was.
Dravid forever embodied the true spirit of a team sport. In the ODI format of the game Dravid was frequently shunted up and down the line up as per the team's wishes. Somedays he would be at number 3. Some days at number 6. For the sake of the team, Dravid even adorned the wicketkeepers gloves to ensure that Ganguly could play 7 specialist batsmen in his teams. In essence Dravid was probably the key factor behind India's success under Ganguly in ODIs. In tests, Dravid opened, played at number 3, batted at number 5 and 6 as per the whims and fancies of the management of the time, never with a semblence of a complaint.
He captained the side graciously and slipped out of the role when he felt the time was right. In the era of sledging, abuse and "mental disintegration", Dravid was a always a welcome presence from the game's gentlemanly past. World over, Dravid has earned the respect of his peers, officials, old timers and the youngest of fans, for his honesty, hard work and distinguished behaviour on and off the field.
Tomorrow, in all probability, the gentleman born in Indore and raised in Bangalore will address the media announcing that he has walked out to the pitch in Indian colours for the last time. It should be a moment of great sadness for all us Indian fans. Not just because it is only a matter of time before we lose the sight of the likes of Dravid, Sachin, Laxman on the cricket field. But simply because a great man has ended his career. According to Virat Kohli Sachin has carried the hopes of a billion people for a very long time. He is right of course. But somewhere, down the line, Sachin had a lot of help. And a lot of it came from the blade of Rahul Dravid.
Let us not call him "The Wall". Let us not call him an unsung hero. Rahul Dravid was a warrior on the cricket field. The trustworthy hard working and talented general on the field. He retires tomorrow, not as an unsung hero, but a living legend. That is his place in Indian cricket.