Another nice article written by former England and Kent batsman Ed Smith, who played with Dravid for Kent.A gentleman champion of timeless steel and dignity
One word has attached itself to Dravid wherever he has gone: gentleman. The word is often misunderstood. Gentlemanliness is not mere surface charm - the easy lightness of confident sociability. Far from it: the real gentleman doesn't run around flattering everyone in sight, he makes sure he fulfils his duties and obligations without drawing attention to himself or making a fuss. Gentlemanliness is as much about restraint as it is about appearances. Above all, a gentleman is not only courteous, he is also constant: always the same, whatever the circumstances or the company.
In that sense, Dravid is a true gentleman. Where many sportsmen flatter to deceive, Dravid runs deep. He is a man of substance, morally serious and intellectually curious. For all his understatement, he couldn't fail to convey those qualities to anyone who watched him properly.
In the q&a that followed his speech, one answer got close to the core of his personality. What motivated him still, after all these years and so many runs? Dravid said that as a schoolboy, he remembered many kids who had at least as much desire to play professional cricket as he did - they attended every camp and net session, no matter what the cost or the difficulty of getting there. But you could tell - from just one ball bowled or one shot played - that they simply didn't have the talent to make it. He knew he was different. "I was given a talent to play cricket," Dravid explained. "I don't know why I was given it. But I was. I owe it to all those who wish it had been them to give of my best, every day."
What a brilliant inversion of the usual myth told by professional sportsmen: that they had unexceptional talent and made it to the top only because they worked harder. Dravid spoke the truth. Yes, he worked hard. But the hard work was driven by the desire to give full expression to a God-given talent.
In years to come, perhaps too late, we may realise what we have lost: the civility, craft and dignity that Dravid brought to every cricket match in which he played.