I would like to announce my retirement from international and domestic first-class cricket. It is 16 years since I played my first Test match for India and today I feel it is time to move on. Once I was like every other boy in India, with a dream of playing for my country. Yet I could never have imagined a journey so long and so fulfilling.
No dream is ever chased alone. As I look back, I have many people to thank for teaching me and believing in me. My junior coaches in Bangalore and at various junior national camps inculcated in me a powerful love of the game, which has always stayed with me. My coaches at the international level have added to my craft and helped shape my personality. The physios and trainers worked hard to keep me fit - not an easy job - and allowed me to play late into my 30s.
The selectors, who rarely receive any credit in India, occasionally had more confidence in me than I had in myself and I am grateful for that. The various captains I played under offered me guidance and inspired me. Most of all I have to thank the teams I played with.
I was lucky in my early years to play for a Karnataka team that was trying to forge itself into a strong side and they were years of fun and learning. In the Indian team, I was fortunate to be part of a wonderful era when India played some of its finest cricket at home and abroad. Many of my teammates have become legends, not just in India but in the wider cricketing world. I admired them, learnt from them and I leave the game with wonderful memories and strong friendships. It is a great gift to have.
A career in sport is almost impossible to manage without the support, and guidance, and reassurance of family and friends. During tough times, and there always are, this is whom we go to. I found strength and encouragement from my parents and brother and they created around me a positive environment which was essential to my success.
My wife, Vijeeta, has been a remarkable partner in my journey. She has made sacrifices in her own career and has almost been a single parent as she brought up our children alone as I travelled abroad to play. Whenever challenges appeared, she was always there, as sounding board, as ally and as guide. Being away from my family became harder and harder through the years and I look forward now to spending time at home and doing the simple things, like just taking my sons to school.
Finally I would like to thank the Indian cricket fan, both here and across the world. The game is lucky to have you and I have been lucky to play before you. To represent India, and thus to represent you, has been a privilege and one which I have always taken seriously. My approach to cricket has been reasonably simple: it was about giving everything to the team, it was about playing with dignity and it was about upholding the spirit of the game. I hope I have done some of that. I have failed at times, but I have never stopped trying. It is why I leave with sadness but also with pride.
On Sidvee blogs, a lovely tribute:
You were one of our finest short leg fielders. You were, for the most part, a remarkable slip catcher. You have opened the innings, batted at No.3, batted at No.6 (from where you conjured up that 180 in Kolkata). I’m sure you have batted everywhere else.
You have kept wicket, offering an added dimension to the one-day side in two World Cups. You even scored 145 in one of those games. You captained both the Test and one-day teams. Sure things didn’t go according to plan but you were a superb on-field captain. More importantly you were India’s finest vice-captain, an aspect that is often conveniently forgotten. Jeez, you even took some wickets.
There’s something unique about this. In Indian cricket’s hall of fame, you can proudly share a table with Gavaskar and Tendulkar. But you can also share one with Kapil, Mankad and Ganguly – cricketers who excelled in more than one aspect of their game for an extended period of time...
...There are a million links that pop up on YouTube when I type ‘Rahul Dravid’. All of them show you batting. None of them contain your essence. There is no Rahul Dravid in there.