There were many times I wondered what will be going through the mind of players when they are idle on the field :). And yesterday, I got my answer. And I can vouch that it cannot get any better than this. Rahul Dravid's speech at the Bradman Oration was making rounds, and at the end of the speech he had this to say:
"Before I conclude, I also want to talk brieﬂy about an experience I have often had over the course of my career. It is not to do with individuals or incidents, but one I believe is important to share.
I have sometimes found myself in the middle of a big game, standing at slip or even at the non-strikers end and suddenly realised that everything else has vanished.
At that moment, all that exists is the contest and the very real sense of the joy that comes from playing the game.It is an almost meditative experience where you reconnect with the game just like you did years ago, when you ﬁrst began. When you hit your ﬁrst boundary, took the ﬁrst catch, scored your ﬁrst century, or were involved in a big victory.
It lasts for a very ﬂeeting passage of time, but it is a very precious instant and every cricketer should hang on to it."
Actually I am doing great injustice to his fascinating speech by just quoting his conclusion right at the beginning itself. But since it answered one of the basic questions I had in my mind, I wanted to mention it first :).
We all know the greatness of the player called Rahul Dravid. His record speaks for itself. 36 centuries, 13,000 test runs, 10,000 ODI runs (that too in a format he is accused of being slow!!) is a record that many cannot achieve even in their dreams! However, this speech he delivered yesterday gave us an insight into his brilliant thoughts about the game and what greats like him think about it.
First, he talks about the inspiring stories of cricketers who come from remote places and gives a short glimpse into the team's dressing room and tells us that 15 different languages could be spoken in that one room. While all of us were deriding the impact of television, he explains to us how it played a major role in taking the game to the masses and erasing the "princely" tag attached to it forever. And he also explains how the increase in revenue helped stabilise the life of many cricketers (international and first class).
The striking aspect is his positive tone throught the speech. We have heard the cacophony on TV studios and instant judgements by journalists on whether test cricket is "dying" etc. Rahul Dravid devotes an entire section in his speech to talking about this aspect. We heard it from TV "experts" before, but when he says there is too much cricket and hence a spectator-fatigue, it is time for concerned authorities to sit up and take note. And I liked the way he talks about how the audience at the stadium is very important to the player, and why the audience is not just about generating revenue. It gave me delight to hear him say that a cheering crowd amplifies their resolve to perform well. And I particularly feel good because me along with friends went to watch a test match recently and cheered our throats out :).
His thoughts about the future of the cricket needs to be taken seriously. We need to hear more from the likes of Dravid, Kumble, Sachin, Laxman etc on this game. Not from Arun Lal and Sanjay Manjrekar!
Right at the beginning, he derides how loosely the words "war", "battle" are used when referring to cricket, which at the end of the day is a sport and not a battlefield. This speech should also make the media realise how fallacious their usage of such words is. He was speaking at their National War Memorial and had this to say:
This building, however, recognises the men and women who lived out the words – war, battle, ﬁght - for real and then gave it all up for their country, their lives left incomplete, futures extinguished
How true, and how dignified of him to actually make a mention of this and bring the media back home to it's feet.
Also notice how he says "Cricketing world will watch" instead of saying "World will watch". After all, cricket is actively played in just 9 countries. But then as usual our media won't learn right? Their headline - "World will watch India-Australia series" !
Anyways, let's not digress :). This entire speech here, is a must read for all cricket lovers. It has honesty written all over it. It gives us a glimpse of the thought process of a man who has given Indian cricket a lot of treasure. After he retires, am sure we will come up with many "Is X the next Dravid" when X scores a couple of centuries at No. 3 position in tests. But we, who have been fortunate to have seen him exhibit his art, know there will be no other Dravid. Thank you Rahul Dravid :)