Zeenews Sports Bureau
New Delhi: Tributes poured in for the Indian batting legend Rahul Dravid, who called time on his international cricket career on Friday.
Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly said it will be difficult for the team to replace a man of Dravid's stature. "It'll be very difficult to replace a man with over 10,000 runs in both forms of the game. Indian cricket won't be the same without Dravid," he said.
Even though Dravid’s decision didn’t come as a surprise for legendary Sunil Gavaskar, he said it has left a big hole in Indian cricket. "It will be a big hole to fill. It was a decision in the pipeline for some time, because once a player gets 35-36, talks of leaving the game are at the back of his mind, so really didn`t come as a surprise," he said.
Former Indian pace spearhead Javagal Srinath completely endorsed Dravid's decision to retire, saying he has done it at the right time.
"It was a well planned one. He has done it at the right time and I completely endorse his decision. I don`t see Dravid`s value diminishing in any way since he has retired. I see his stature increasing," Srinath said.
“I've been very fortunate and wonderfully privileged to be involved in many match-winning partnerships with him for the last 15 years or so,” said VVS Laxman on Dravid’s retirement.
“Rahul has been a true performer and his contribution to Indian cricket is immense. He has been an inspiration to us all. However, I'm not surprised by his call to retire. It was inevitable. All of us are at the fag end of our careers and each one of us has to move into the twilight. Rahul had called me up three days back and told me about his decision,” he said.
Australian all-rounder Shane Watson described his IPL teammate as a “phenomenal man” and said Dravid was contemplating whether he was actually going to come out to Australia.
"I was actually talking to Rahul during the IPL last year and he was contemplating whether he was actually going to come out to Australia," Watson was quoted as saying by Sydney Morning Herald. "But after having such an amazing England series he obviously felt it would be a great option to come out to Australia. I suppose in the end it showed the dominance of our bowlers because Rahul was still in pretty good touch but our bowlers just bowled so well to him.”
Shane Watson is part of the IPL team Rajasthan Royals which is led by Rahul Dravid. "I`ve been very lucky to have a really good association with Rahul. He`s probably the nicest guy - no, he is the nicest guy - that I`ve met in cricket. He`s a phenomenal man. He loves the game with so much passsion, it`s in his blood and in his heart. He is certainly going to be sorely missed by the Indian public and the cricket loving public as well,” he added.
"I suppose I`m lucky that he`s my captain for Rajasthan so I`ll continue to talk cricket as much as I possibly can because I do love talking to him. He`s got a lot of knowledge to be able to give."
In a press conference in Bangalore, India`s batting stalwart Dravid announced his retirement from international and domestic cricket where he has been a star for over 15 years.
Earlier, praising Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar said there can be "no other" cricketer like him. "There was and is only one Rahul Dravid. There can be no other. I will miss Rahul in the dressing room and out in the middle," Tendulkar said.
Test cricket`s two most prolific batsmen, Tendulkar and Dravid together fashioned many of India`s famous wins with crucial partnerships over the past one and a half decade.
In his column for an Indian daily, former Australian captain Ian Chappell said Dravid’s decision brings to a close one of the more successful careers in cricket. “He was one of the fairest and most respected competitors in the game. At a time when money rules the game and clouds the decision making process, Dravid gave the impression that integrity was more important than riches. He always played and captained with pride and dignity,” he wrote.
“Dravid's unselfishness and integrity deserved a dream finish. He didn't get one but Rahul can hold his head high knowing his second last series was one of his best. Fortunately he was smart enough to realise it shouldn't lure him into playing on too long.”
Former India coach John Wright called Rahul Dravid one of India's greatest batsmen mainly because of his ability to score in all conditions. “From a personal perspective, Rahul is one of the best men I've ever worked with. He always had a great awareness of what the team needed. In short, he's not only a great cricketer, but a great man,” he wrote in his column for a daily newspaper.
“I owe a lot to Rahul. He helped me a great deal during my tenure as coach of India (2000 to 2005). I worked with him at Kent as well as in India where he was the backbone of our batting, particularly overseas. We had a number of great players, but a lot of victories were built around his contributions.”
Those who took to the social networking site Twitter to wish 'The Wall' included England batsman Yuvraj Singh, Kevin Pietersen, former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu and Mandira Bedi among aothers, who expressed their feelings soon after announcement.
Ailing cricketer Yuvraj Singh tweeted: “Congrats to Rahul Dravid on an amazing career! You will be missed. Fantastic person and Cricketer! India's #wall.”
“Rahul Dravid-LEGEND!! Plain & simple.. congrats on an incredible career!! India WILL miss #thewall,” tweeted Kevin Pietersen. Mandira Bedi wrote,” The end of an era. R Dravid personified class, propriety & dependability. The wall stands tall today too as he retires. India will miss him.”
Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan joined the pack to wish Dravid by tweeting, "They say sport serves society by providing vivid examples of excellence. To me the most vivid & dependable has to be Rahul Dravid."
“Congrats on a Fantastic, Superb International Career! The Great Legend Rahul Dravid !!The wall will be miss!!,” tweeted Chris Gayle.
“Some succeed because they are destined to, but Rahul Dravid succeeded because he was DETERMINED to,” wrote Navjot Singh Sidhu.