Related Link: Rahul Dravid Career Stats
Vidyuth : Well Rahul, 10,000 runs in both Tests and ODIs and along with that a lot of great individual achievements you already have had. Now what else or how far are you looking at?
Rahul Dravid : For me 10,000 runs in both formats is very special simply because when you start off in your career, you don’t really believe that you could go onto achieve something like that. Over the years, I mean just going along with the matches, trying to perform my best each time, in the last couple of years probably the 10,000 runs had become a target of kind. It’s nice to get there and it’s nice to get that ticked off.
Personally, now I am just looking to keep on doing well, mentally it’s not really about runs or statistics anymore for me. It is really about playing some good match winning innings, play a few series, try and win a few Test Series. I just want to contribute to the side whenever I can in the time that I have, that is really the way I see at the moment. Like for example, just to be able to get the 93 in the first innings of the Perth Test which set the match for us and of course a great win owing to the good first innings total we had put. It is something like that which excites me and challenges me now, that is to repeat such knocks and certainly not the numbers or the statistics.
Vidyuth : So you enjoying your cricket…isn’t it?
Rahul Dravid : Yeah, I am very much enjoying it. You still love the game, wake up every morning and feel like playing the sport. There is something new to learn every day, yes it is really exciting.
Vidyuth : And you are chasing the ‘most catches by a fielder’ record…Just a few more and you will take that record away from Mark Waugh.
Rahul Dravid : Chasing record (laughing)…well that is something I been enjoying, taking a lot of catches and fielding in the slips. Well you take a catch, you get a chance to celebrate it with your entire team, that is a great thing. And also makes you feel happy that you are contributing to somebody else’s success as well. You can get a hundred, you just get to celebrate it with your partner at that point of time but when you take a catch, the entire team comes towards you and that brings in a lot of joy.
I also feel that I have been lucky to have taken these many catches over the years. And the fact is that I have played in a generation where I had the opportunity to take these catches. I mean you only hold onto catches that come your way and that is all because of the bowlers we have had. I have been lucky since the time I had fielded at short leg and silly point early on. I have played with some great bowlers like spinners Anil Kumble and Harbhajan, two quality spinners and then you also had fast bowlers like Srinath, Venky and now Zaheer and a whole lot of fast bowlers who have created opportunities and created catches. Yes we have had a good slip cordon in Sachin, Laxman and me, but the fact is that we have had a good bowling unit which has given us the opportunity to take all these catches in these last 10-12 years.
Vidyuth : This question, everybody would love to ask you. How did wicket keeping come to you because you never kept wickets for Karnataka?
Rahul Dravid : I used to keep at the Under 15 level and after that I stopped. Actually, I was getting selected in the Senior Age group teams, which were above my age and that too as a batsman and not as a Keeper. I sort of, after that, left Keeping as I was getting opportunities only as a pure batsman. I just started focusing on getting runs and on close-in fielding from there onwards.
Leading into the 2003 World Cup, we recognized that we did not have a good all-rounder at that stage. So Sourav, John Wright and myself decided that we will try out this option. I had kept wickets in the past whenever there was an injury to the premier Keeper, I would just fill in. I always had good hands, so it wasn’t a bad option. As a Keeper, my main problem was my feet movement because I wasn’t a regular keeper and I had not done it for close to 13-14 years. We had a bit of success as a team with this option and I worked hard on my physical fitness that year. Physical fitness that was required for a Keeper, all I had done and taking some extra drills with John Wright. It did work out although it was tough, giving us some success and we ran it as long as it went. But I think after people like Dhoni and stuff had come in, you recognize the need to have a regular guy behind the stumps.
Vidyuth : Rahul being a team man that you are, you must have put in a lot of efforts in your fitness at that point of time. I mean you were batting all the time and then the added burden of wicket keeping, what was it that you worked on to stay intact?
Rahul Dravid : I had to work on my leg strength and overall fitness. I had to up that because sitting down and standing up for a long time and then going out to bat was going to be tough. I knew that my main job was batting and I didn’t want to get injured while keeping as my keeping will never be that good. So yeah, the fact that I worked a lot on my leg strength, the other thing that I was worried a lot about was my fingers. As I wasn’t a regular keeper, I did have the odd bruise and odd hit. But luckily, touchwood, I never broke anything which I think you know keeping for 65-75 One Day games, I think I have done well. I have been very lucky there.
Vidyuth : Yes you certainly were lucky during the keeping episode; anyway what’s your take on the IPL?
Rahul Dravid : Well it was an interesting first year starting off, it is here to stay. It has hugely caught the interest of many people who have taken it. It has got to be managed and it will evolve, grow as time goes on. But yeah, the first year was hugely successful for all the parties and everyone concerned. The future I think, there can be a bit of 20-20 here and there but people have got to be careful in maintaining a balance between all the three forms of the game.
Vidyuth : Do you think there will be preparation of specialist 20-20 cricketers in the future from now?
Rahul Dravid : I think you might see that, especially in India, where there are a lot of opportunities for the 20-20 players now with the IPL coming in. You might get to see players who will be inclined towards that style of cricket and making that their forte. That might happen, the future will tell us and I think if you have more Twenty Cricket happening in the future, then players will start preparing themselves to become specialists at it. But if you have just the one or two tournaments in a year, then it is critical for the players to keep a balance in all the forms of the games.
Vidyuth : What is your favourite ground, Rahul?
Rahul Dravid : Favourite ground…it’s Lord’s where I have made my Test Debut. I just love the ground, I also like the Eden Gardens as well where I have been very successful, so always enjoyed playing there.
Vidyuth : Who has been your all-time favourite cricketer?
Rahul Dravid : Growing up, I had big heroes in people like Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and GR Viswanath. I think your heroes as youngsters stay with you and they are the people you look up to and admire. I have been privileged to meet them later on through cricket. I just wanted to be like them growing up.
Vidyuth : And one last question, who has been the most difficult bowler you have ever faced?
Rahul Dravid : Aaah…there have been quite a few; it is difficult to single out one name. Well like Wasim and Waqar as together, Ambrose and Walsh, Donald and Pollock as a combination have all been difficult to face at their best.
Vidyuth : Well I am tempted to ask this, what do you think about Ajantha Mendis before we close the conversation?
Rahul Dravid : He has just started his career well; he bowled well against us and has got some different variations in play. He is something unique and he brings something different to the table. But obviously, once people get to know him better, once people get to see him more often, they will figure out how to handle him and things might change a little bit. Credit to him the way he has bowled so far, hats off to him and he forms a good combination with Murali. Both create pressure at both the ends and now it is a big challenge for teams all over the world on how they handle this.