Bangalore: Rahul Dravid put an end his 16-year long illustrious journey of on cricket field by announcing his retirement at a press conference in Bangalore on Friday. Terming it to be a tough decision, ‘The Wall’, as he is fondly called, said that he felt it was the right time for him to move on.
“I had a dream of playing for the country. But never in my imagination did I think of having such a long and fantastic career. No dream is ever chased alone and I have many people to thank for encouraging and believing in me. I thank all my coaches, including my junior coaches in Bangalore and the selectors for reposing faith in me. I would also like to thank the Indian fans across the world. The game is lucky to have you. I hope I have lived up to your expectations. I have failed at times but I never stopped trying hard. That's why I retire with sadness and pride," said the former captain, adding that the decision had been taken after proper contemplation over a period of time and wasn’t as a result of his poor run Down Under.
“My performance in Australia had nothing to do with my decision as I had the retirement plan at the back of my mind. I had decided to call it a day after the Australia tour and it was just a matter of when,” said Dravid, adding that there are a lot of talented players waiting in the wings to take his place and irrespective of disastrous tour in Australia and England, India were moving in the right direction.
“There are a bunch of youngsters who are very talented. When I look back at when I was 23, I find these guys to be exceptionally good. But then talent does not mean you have a long career. And these guys need to know that as having four-five players cementing their places at a time is always good for the team. We had that in our time as me, Sourav, Sehwag and later Gautam Gambhir found our feet in the team. And that in a way gives assurance that players are doing good,” said the Dravid, adding that he was fortunate to play in an era when Indian cricket was full of legends.
“Playing alongside players like Sachin (Tendulkar), Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly and others was an honour for me. They all are legends and I loved playing in their company,” said Dravid, adding that he had always tried to uphold the spirit of the game.
"My appoach 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."
Former captain and Karnataka Association president Anil Kumble, who was present on the occasion along with BCCI president N Srinivasan, was in all praises for his former team-mate. “I congratulate you on having a glorious and incomparable career. I have enjoyed every run you have scored. It has been a great honour playing alongside you,” said the leggie legend, adding that Dravid has been a quiet, unassuming player all these years.
“His commitment towards the game is unmatched. I am honoured to have shared the same dressing room with him. He has been a perfect ambassador for cricket. Rahul, you are responsible for many youngsters taking up the game in Karnataka,” said Kumble.
Srinivasan, meanwhile thanked Dravid on behalf of the BCCI, saying that he is one of the finest cricketers India has ever produced. “All of us are proud of what he has achieved. To see him play with great commitment was a sheer privilege. He has been a great role model for everyone, for team-mates, for fans. I'm sure it was a hard decision for him. It's a sad day for me personally. I know him from the time when he was a club cricketer. Thank you Rahul for what you have given to Indian cricket. The BCCI is extremely honoured that you have been part of the team," said the BCCI president.