Mumbai: Former players hailed Rahul Dravid, who on Friday retired from international as well as domestic cricket, as among the very best produced by India and said his contribution to Indian cricket has been huge.
"Rahul was like the Great Wall of China for the Indian team and it cannot be created again," said former captain Ajit Wadekar in admiration of the man who had occupied the No.3 spot in Tests with aplomb for a decade and a half.
"He was an absolutely complete cricketer with tremendous concentration and dedication. In technique, the man who came closest was Sanjay Manjrekar," said Wadekar about the player who scored over 24,000 runs in Tests and ODIs combined.
"Like Vijay Merchant, Vijay Hazare and Sunil (Gavaskar) have gone down in history, like Sachin (Tendulkar) will go down in history (when he calls it a day), so too will Rahul go down as among the very best India has produced," said another former captain Nari Contractor.
"Rahul has been next only to Sachin in everything (in the number of runs scored in Tests and number of centuries). He has made runs when they mattered most for the team. What more would you have expected from him," Contractor said.
"What many fail to mention (about Dravid) is the number of catches he has taken (mostly in the slip cordon). He has been one of the most outstanding cricketers from India in all respects. His contribution to Indian cricket has been huge and can never be forgotten."
Former all rounder Bapu Nadkarni was also full of praise for Dravid and said he was wrongly omitted by the selectors in one-dayers and then came back into the limited overs game with a bang and also kept wickets too.
"He was a totally selfless cricketer. He has been very helpful and never said no to anyone and always gave his best," Nadkarni said.
Wadekar felt the void left behind by the retirement of Dravid will be very difficult to fill.
"He has scored the highest number of runs after Sachin and also played the highest number of Test matches after Sachin. It`s impossible to have another Rahul Dravid and impossible to fill up the void," he said.
The former No. 3 batsman also felt that like Dilip Vengsarkar before him, Dravid`s great innings had been overshadowed by others during his long career.
"Some of his greatest innings (notably of 180 against Australia) was overshadowed by VVS Laxman (281) (in 2000-01 at Kolkata). In this respect he was like Dilip Vengsarkar whose knocks had been overshadowed by Sunny (Gavaskar)," Wadekar said.
Wadekar also described the retirement of Dravid as the beginning of the end of what former BCCI President, the late Raj Singh Dungarpur, termed as "The team of the 90s".
"I think it is the beginning of the end of the era, what was called team of the 90s. We have Virat Kohli (to fill in for Dravid). But he has a long way to go," the former stylish left-handed batsman said.
Wadekar did not feel that the Test series in Australia, where Dravid got bowled in six of the eight innings he batted, hastened his retirement.
"I don`t think so. He always knew where his off stump was. Probably he has taken the right decision (to retire)," the former skipper said.
Wadekar was of the opinion that Dravid as captain was an introvert but also led from the front with his bat.
"If anyone should have a role model, it has to be this guy. As a captain he was a bit of an introvert. He was quiet and did not show much emotion. It was the wall that was always there for the Indian team to lean on."