I remember the first time I saw you play. It must have been my second cricket match that I had ever seen. New to cricket, I was still figuring out the logistics of the games and on you came onto the field. At 14, I had never seen a cricketer cuter, more handsome and definitely more charming. I was floored. Over time, my crush deepened. Every time India played, I looked for you. Every four, every six, every block, every catch in the slip I watched in amazement.
It’s rather odd to say this but I grew up with you. You moved on from strength to strength, gained moniker after moniker ranging from Jammy to Mr. Dependable as I simultaneously went through High School. And while most young girls had pictures of celebrities on their school binders, I had a large magazine cut out of you taped to mine. The girls laughed. I flicked my hair and walked right on.
Yes, there have been great highs for you, but for me there isn’t one defining match that left me speechless. It’s been every 100, every catch in the slip and every time you won man of the match, I understood why. But if I were to pick one, it would be your 148 against England. It was by far one the most beautiful pieces of batting I have ever seen. Even through the lows, I believed in you. I knew you’d bounce back, which you did ever so fabulously.
However, it wasn’t all this that made me become the Rahul Dravid fan-girl that I am. It was your dignity, your charm and your innate love for the game that furthered my respect for you. I often felt that you were one player who possessed a love for the game that no one else did. It wasn’t about the fame for you. You, Rahul, played beautiful cricket. You made it look easy, graceful and exquisite.
For 15 years now, I’ve watched you play like a true gentlemen in a game that is meant for men just like yourself. Many players would become big-headed after all these achievements, but not you. You remained as humble as ever.
On a rather girly note, you will always remain my numero uno crush amongst the cricket lads. There will never be a more perfect gentleman than you, in my opinion. At 39, you still possess the 23-year-old charm that you possessed back then. And trust me, you still make the ladies go giddy. Whether it’s your absolutely adorable smile or those dreamy eyes, I found myself gushing then and more so now. I shed a tear when I watched your press conference announcing your retirement. It was a moment of mixed feelings. As an Indian cricket fan, we were losing one the most precious players we ever had and yet, the fashion in which you were letting it go was one of great panache and poise. But only Rahul Dravid could bid adieu to cricket the way you did.
You may leave the cricketing arena but we all know what you mean to Indian Cricket. You epitomize grace, style and humility. There will never be a cricketer like you ever again and you know what, we wouldn’t want another Rahul Dravid anyway.
We love you Rahul and we always will. As for me, you are and will always be my favorite Wall.
Love and respect,