A Wall. The Wall.


Consider for a second, a wall.  

When you see a wall, you know it to be a wall. You have a general idea of what a wall looks like, indeed, even of what it should look like. I suppose the first thoughts that passed through your mind on reading this question included the stereotypical characterization of a red brick wall. But that is not what I ask. I ask you to consider the basic nature of a wall. Why do walls exist? Why do we need walls? What do walls do? 

The ever-reliable Wikipedia tells us that "wall is a vertical structure, usually solid, that defines and sometimes protects an area. Most commonly, a wall delineates a building and supports its superstructure, separates space in buildings into rooms, or protects or delineates a space in the open air." Simply put, for any entity, a wall defines, supports and nurtures. Take a space, take a creation and the wall is its Brahma and Vishnu. It creates, it protects. A bad wall destroys. A bad wall is Mahesh

Walls are reliable. Walls are solid. Walls support us. Walls protect us.

Now think of a cricket team, specifically the Indian Test team. Think of our opening batsmen. An attacker and a berserker. Think of when they make a century opening stand at nearly a run-a-ball and then one departs. Think of the man who used to come in after them, and how you groaned. "Abey yaar, yeh toh out bhi nahin hoga." Think of a green pitch, a seaming pitch, a bouncy pitch when one of them invariably departed almost as soon as he had come in. Think of the relief you felt at the sight of the man coming in after them. "Abey yaar, yeh toh out nahin hoga." 


Writing the Textbook


Rahul Dravid. The Wall. 

There seems to be a general consensus that somehow, 'The Wall' isn't an appropriate enough nickname for the greatest No. 3 batsman of our time. That perhaps it needs a 'Great' as an appendage. That perhaps it needs to reflect his roots as "The Great Wall of India" or even "The Great Wall of Indore". The general consensus is wrong. 


A good wall defines. More than perhaps any other cricketer, Rahul Dravid has defined the structure of the Indian cricket team. A team of stroke-makers built around a man who was as gifted as any one of his peers and who had the added skill of simply not getting out. The longer you stayed at the crease, the more you scored. Rahul Dravid stayed. This is not to say he was not as talented as his peers; indeed, I think he was rather more talented than we usually give him credit for. Rahul Dravid defined. In Adelaide, in Jamaica and so many more... 


Pick any of your favorite memories of the last decade (and more) involving this Indian team, and there is a very good chance that you will find some involvement of his in it. Propping up an end for hours and hours and then some more? Done that. Kept wickets? Done that. Even bowled a few overs? Yup, done that too. Caught well-nigh everything that's come his way? Of course. Opponents came in droves, and The Wall kept them all out. He gave them a target to attack at and unrelentingly blunted them. Imagine for a second, as a bowler, you've given it your all, rushed in, attacked the stumps, bowled short, bowled yorkers and then some and the man at the other end simply refused to leave. Politely, but firmly rebuffed. How would you feel? 

Immovable


A good wall supports. When others crafted masterpieces, he supported them. Gave them the space, the freedom to create. He supplied the materials, kept out the sounds, made sure they were well-fed, absorbed their tantrums, massaged their egos, took away their worries and let them express. In the process, he created mini-masterpieces of his own, but someone else took away the limelight. It didn't matter. He did it all over again with someone else. Rahul Dravid supported. In Kolkata, in Headingley and so many more...


A good wall protects. Cast your mind to the future, to the next test which India will play. Imagine an early wicket falling. That chill that passed through your spine? That was the realization that Rahul Dravid will no longer be walking out to the pitch, no longer be bloody-mindedly occupying the crease. With Rahul, there was peace, now there will be insecurity. 


A bad wall destroys. When The Wall was bad, the whole structure crumbled. When The Wall had a crack, not even the Gods could save us. 


That is why The Wall is the perfect, and the only required sobriquet for Rahul Dravid. It is not meant to belittle him or his achievements. Rahul Dravid was not the Wall at which something stopped, he was the Wall at which everything began. Knowingly or unknowingly, we have given him our ultimate respect. We have chosen Rahul Dravid to embody everything that is good about the basic foundation of any structure created by any man. We have chosen to be surrounded, to be protected by Dravid all our life. What higher honour can we bestow? 

P.S.: If I were ever asked to come up with an alternate nickname for Rahul Dravid, it would be Gandalf. More often than not, if Rahul decided you would not pass, then you would not pass. Thank you Rahul, for deciding in our favour so many times. 
P.P.S.: Tried to send this to SportsKeeda, but apparently they can't publish it because "it's too late to do so". Oh well. 

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