Cow Corner

Dravid, The Wall, stands alone

Cow Corner

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England may
yet seal a series whitewash, but if they do, it's not because they smashed
through the Indian Wall, it's because they went around it.

Take a bow,
Rahul Dravid.

The
38-year-old is the only member of the travelling party who will leave these
shores with his Test reputation enhanced.

Remarkable,
that, given where he began the series.

He's the
second-highest run scorer in Test cricket, averages a shade under 53 for every
innings he has played since he first strode out to the crease for India -
coincidentally here in England all of 15 years ago - and he's faced more
deliveries in Test cricket than anyone else.

How do you
improve on that?

You hit
three centuries - all India's tons so far in this series - against an
attack that has stymied Sachin, shut out Sehwag, and flummoxed Laxman.

It's not
just the way he bats, which is as if he's been plucked from a bygone era where not
getting out is as important as accumulating runs, it's what he brings to the
team.

One of the
biggest criticisms of the Indian players has been their attitude. Fielders
slinking off, fumbling wretchedly, hands in pockets. Not Dravid.

His
unbeaten 146 in the first innings at The Oval came about after he was asked to
act as an emergency opener - not for the first time in this series.

Earlier in
the summer he took the wicketkeeping duties too, to allow his skipper to send
down a few overs of medium pace.

Without his
team spirit and individual defiance, where would India be now?

Consider
too, what a sensational sportsman he is.

Speaking of
India's generous withdrawal of an appeal against Ian Bell at Lord's, Dravid
stayed classy like San Diego
in explaining the team's decision:

"When
it happens to one of your guys, well if the tables were turned, I don't think
our guys would have felt nice about it. That was one of the themes that was
being discussed when we came in, what if it was one of our guys?"

And
then, in the third Test, he chose not to review his caught-behind dismissal
because he took batting partner Sachin Tendulkar's word for it that he must
have nicked it.

Replays
showed the only thing the ball had touched was his shoelace.

If Cowers
sounds like he's laying it on a bit thick, so be it. The trouble is that Dravid
does not get the credit he deserves.

In any
other team he'd surely be the leading light.

In this
side, he lives in the shadow of Tendulkar.

Incidentally,
Tendulkar has been treated to a standing ovation every time he comes to the
crease by the English crowd - and all too often another when he departs without
a telling score - without that mythical 100th international century.

Perhaps
Tendulkar will correct that and get a more deserved ovation on day five at The
Oval - but for now he is on a farewell tour of England, contributing not all
that much.

Then again,
English fans have not really known what to make of this India showing.

The
tourists arrived as the world's best, the World Cup champions. They will leave
as also-rans, battered, bruised, and potentially left to face their own version
of the Schofield Report, or even Australia's
Argus Report
into how to fix their game.

At least
Dravid has stayed constant, immovable, Wall-like throughout.

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TALKING POINT OF THE DAY:  Will Sachin Tendulkar get that century tomorrow? He's just 65 runs
away... And will it be in a glorious rearguard, or a losing cause? Leave your thoughts below!

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USER COMMENT OF THE
DAY: "
Interesting - is R Singh about to make a
difference? (Actually, just wanted to write a sentence with "R Singh
about" in it)" - Anax goes
puerile. But Cowers approves.

TWEET OF THE DAY: "England
fielders close to the bat are calling Gambhir Mel Gibson... (braveheart). They
have a point!" Michael Vaughan flags
up the sledge of the day as England try to unnerve reluctant batsman Gautam
Gambhir.

STAT OF THE DAY: Rahul Dravid faced his 30,000th ball in Test
cricket during the course of his marathon. If you lived for 30,000 days,
you'd be 82.

SNAP OF THE DAY: The technique looks spot on, the defence
perfect - but something rather important is missing for VVS Laxman...

 

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