Cricket is the only sport where the term ‘old-fashioned’ is a compliment. Novak Djokovic would be insulted if you called him an old-fashioned player. So would Lionel Messi. It is a quirk of the language, and perhaps of the game itself, that ‘old-fashioned’ in cricket does not mean hidebound, inflexible or anything remotely negative.
Rather, it is a throwback to an era of the game that is always harked back to. An era where players were gentlemen, never stepped out of line, respected opponents, never attracted attention to themselves and played not just within the laws but within its spirit. Of course, it is an era that never actually existed except in the writings of the romantics. But like some Shangri-la, it is one that is always spoken about.
It is a mythical world peopled by unreal heroes, but occasionally the game throws up a personality who matches the romantic description.
Rahul Dravid was such a one as this, an old-fashioned cricketer, who gave breath and body to the qualities that cricket...