March 9, 2012

Full text of Rahul Dravid's retirement speech


SKM Sports

Here is the complete speech made by former Indian captain Rahul Dravid, who announced his retirement from Tests and first-class cricket, in his hometown Bangalore on March 9:

“I would like to announce my retirement from international and domestic first-class cricket. It has been 16 years since I first played a Test match for India, and I feel it's time for me to move on. Once I was like every other boy in India, with a dream of playing for my country. Yet I could never have imagined a journey so long and so fulfilling. I have had a wonderful time, but now it is time for a new generation of young players to make their own history and take the Indian cricket team even further.”

“No dream is ever chased alone. As I look back, as one does at such a time, I have many people to thank for supporting me, teaching me and believing in me.”

“My junior coaches in Bangalore and at various junior national camps inculcated in me a powerful love of the game which has always stayed with me.”

“My coaches at the international level have added to my craft and helped shape my personality. They pushed me and challenged me to keep getting better. The physios and trainers worked hard to keep me fit -- not an easy job -- and allowed me to play late into my 30s.”

“The selectors who rarely receive any credit in India had, on occasions, more confidence in me than I had in myself and I am grateful for that. The various captains I played under offered me guidance and inspired me.”

“The media has been kind to me, and I have respect for their craft.”

“The KSCA and BCCI have provided me a platform and the facilities to play the game.”

“But most of all, I have to thank the teams I played with. I know what I am going to miss the most is being part of a unit. The joy of bonding together and striving to achieve a goal is what made cricket special for me. I was lucky in my early years to play for a Karnataka team which was trying to forge itself into a strong side and they were years of fun and learning.”

“In the Indian team, I was fortunate to be part of a wonderful era when India played some of its finest cricket at home and abroad. Many of my teammates have become legends, not just in India but in the wider cricketing world. I admired them, learnt from them and I leave the game with wonderful memories and strong friendships. It is a great gift to have.”

“A career in sport is almost impossible to manage without the support, guidance, and reassurance of family and friends. During tough times -- and there have been many -- they are the ones we go to. I found strength and encouragement from my parents (Sharad and Pushpa ) and brother (Vijay) and they created around me a positive environment which was essential to my success.”

“My wife, Vijeeta, has been a remarkable partner in my journey. She has made sacrifices in her own career and has almost been a single parent bringing up our children alone as I travelled abroad to play. Whenever challenges appeared, she was always there, as sounding board, as ally and as guide. Being away from my family became harder and harder through the years and I look forward now to spending time at home and doing the simple things, like just taking my sons (Samit and Anvay) to school.”

“Finally, I would like to thank the Indian cricket fan, both here and across the world. The game is lucky to have you and I have been lucky to play before you. To represent India, and thus to represent you, has been a privilege and one which I have always taken seriously. My approach to cricket has been reasonably simple: it was about giving everything to the team, it was about playing with dignity, and it was about upholding the spirit of the game. I hope I have done some of that. I have failed at times, but I have never stopped trying. It is why I leave with sadness but also with pride.”

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Gentleman cricketer Dravid bids farewell to international arena


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The time finally came to bid farewell. After having carved a niche for himself during his 15-year stay in international cricket Rahul Dravid has decided to call it a day. He announced retirement in a press conference in his hometown Bangalore on March 9.

Narayanaswami Srinivasan, President, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), and Anil Kumble, a former Indian captain and now President of Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA), was also present on the occasion.

The 39-year-old Dravid, having retired from One-day Internationals last year, has now quit Test cricket as well. He, however, will be in action in the upcoming fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) where he will be leading Rajasthan Royals.

His retirement had appeared on the cards after a dismal tour of Australia where the Indians were mercilessly exposed by the young brigade of home fast bowlers. He could have stayed on, had the form of the other two bigwigs, Sachin Tendulkar and V V S Laxman, not slumped simultaneously.

Tendulkar and Laxman, alongwith Virender Sehwag, had also flopped miserably in England last summer where Dravid’s three centuries went in vain due to the total failure of the other prolific batsmen.

With eight successive Test defeats overseas the time had come to bring about a change and induct newcomers to do the job. Dravid has taken the lead, despite having had a terrific last year. Now the pressure will be on Tendulkar and Laxman to follow suit.

Tendulkar’s retirement appears a matter of time too. Probably he is awaiting his 100th century in international cricket before he hangs his boots too. I think he will enjoy leading Mumbai Indians in the IPL where the settings are nearly ideal to his liking. I am not sure what Laxman is waiting for.

Indeed it’s a very sad day for cricket because the game will never be the same without Dravid and the Indian team in particular will miss him a lot. He was the one batsman who anchored the innings and let the stroke-makers do the business from the other end. It’s going to be very difficult to find anyone right away to perform that role.

More than anyone else he was a team man, who always gave more than one hundred percent, something which could not be said about his illustrious contemporaries with certainty.

Dravid was a great ambassador of the game and indeed a perfect role model for the gentleman's game. In fact he’s probably the last gentleman cricketer of an era when professionalism and greed caused irreparable damage to the reputation of the sport.

Instead of personal records or glories, he cared purely for the team’s interests. He did keep wickets, which was not his job, just to allow a balance in the side on a number of occasions, most notably the 2003 World Cup.

He aggregated 13,288 runs at 52.31 in 164 Test matches since making his debut against England at the Lord's in 1996. Only Tendulkar, with 15470, has scored more runs in Test matches. He remains the world record holder for the highest the number of Test catches (210).

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