Donning a sky-blue gown, Padmashree and Padma Bhushan Rahul Dravid appeared to be one among the many who graduated this year. However, the former India captain did not forget to talk cricket when he was asked to address young minds. His words stressed on the importance of the domestic game, which he still considers the best platform for the groundwork that international cricket requires.
“Spin or fast bowling, easy or difficult track, domestic cricket made me better prepared than I would have ever been without it. It exposed me to some quality spin bowling which shaped me for the face-offs against the likes of (Muttiah) Muralitharan and (Shane) Warne. Though I didn’t get much scope to regularly play fast bowling of international quality, I often used to ask my colleagues to throw wet tennis balls from 15 yards just to make sure I face no trouble while adjusting to the pace and bounce of overseas turfs,” he said.
“While I played Ranji Trophy for five years, I used to be asked ‘when are you playing for the nation?’ — a question which I didn’t have any answer to. I kept playing before I got my first break in 1996; those five years were indeed frustrating. But today I think I wouldn’t have been prepared for the success I ultimately had in international cricket had I not gone through the finishing school that domestic cricket provided,” he maintained.
The 40-year-old also insisted that he retired at the right time and he never felt he could have achieved more by playing a little longer. “After the tour of Australia last year, things became pretty clear that it was time for me to make way for the upcoming generation of talented batsmen to begin their journeys, just the way I did 16 years ago.”