It’s Rahul Dravid’s birthday today, and I suggest we give him a gift. I propose that we retire the worst nickname ever bestowed upon an Indian cricketer. It’s time to retire ‘The Wall’.
It irks me, this whole ‘Wall’ business. It began as a marketing gimmick, but has since been perpetuated by an entire generation of cricket writers. It is a terrible nickname for a cricketer of Dravid’s calibre.
Walls don’t play exquisite cover drives. They don’t score over 24,000 international runs, and don’t take over 400 catches either. They are dull, inanimate objects that divide people – a poor metaphor for a universally admired cricketer.
It isn’t just the nickname – most of Dravid’s career has been poorly chronicled. When was the last time you read a column about Dravid that didn’t contain the words ‘selfless nature’, ‘forgotten hero’ or ‘under-appreciated’?
The narrative around Dravid’s career has been cliché-ridden and lazy, and abandoning the ‘Wall’ nickname would be a good start towards recognizing his greatness.
Here’s why I liked Dravid. Adelaide, Rawalpindi, Kolkata (twice), Headingley, Sabina Park and Perth. India’s most memorable wins all have a common thread – Dravid’s presence. I didn’t like him because he was selfless, or because he possessed great character (which he does). I liked him because he won matches for India. His most famous knocks didn’t result in draws, or heroic, over-romanticized losses. He was a winner, and unfortunately this isn’t mentioned enough when we write about Dravid.
Do we need to find another nickname for him? Frankly I couldn’t be bothered – he has a name, and we can use it. Perhaps after India’s greatest #3 we could move on to India’s greatest #4 and his ‘heavenly’ nickname too. Now wouldn’t that be something.