In sport there are winners and losers. But for a genuine lover, what matters most is how the game is played. Sport can be elevated to higher levels when the participants start to measure their success against the amount of respect they get from their own teammates as well as the opponents. Cricket is supposed to be a 'Gentlemen’s Game’. Is it now? Despite various initiatives by the custodians of the game to uphold the spirit of the game, acts in line with that theme are few and far around the world.
Having closely followed the game for nearly four decades and witnessing almost all Sri Lanka’s cricketing highlights at close quarters, I sometimes question myself whether it’s worth the while to spend money and time and continue to be passionate about cricket because of happenings on and off the field where money and power rule the roost, especially in our part of the world. I needed a spark revive and thankfully, it happened a few days ago in Cardiff, Wales.
Rahul Dravid played his last ODI at the Champions Trophy in Johannesburg back in September 2009 prior to India’s recently concluded tour to England and he’d assumed that it was his final ODI. However, India's injury crisis and Dravid’s masterful batting displays in the Test series compelled the selectors to ‘persuade’ him to come out for one last hurrah against England, which even included a Twenty20 debut at the age of 38.
In his 344th and final ODI on 16 September 2011, Dravid played an important yet typically ‘below the radar’ innings of 69 runs from 79 balls that helped India to go past 300 for the first time in the series. It came to an end when a Graeme Swann tweaker went through the gate to hit the top of his off stump. Swann muted his celebration to walk across to Dravid to shake his hand. So did the entire England team, rushing from all parts of the ground and bid farewell to a legend and a gentlemen who has amassed more than 10,000 runs in two forms of the game. The moment I cherish happened when Dravid walked towards the pavilion. Jonathan Trott slowly walked towards Dravid and then took his cap off before shaking hands. Here the man who was crowned the ICC Cricketer of the Year 2011 just 5 days before the match, respecting and acknowledging the greatness of an opponent in a small but a brilliant way. It may be due to his upbringing but Trott’s gesture is a shining example to all sportsmen on how best to play a game. Thank you Trott and Dravid, for the wonderful moment.