The changing of the guard begins?

Legendary Indian batsman Rahul Dravid retires from a Test team that has been criticised for its ageing stars.

    After playing cricket for India for 16 years, Dravid felt it was time to give younger players a chance [AFP]

    The wall has come down. Rahul Dravid, one of the finest batsmen of his era, announced his retirement Friday to begin a changing of the guard in India's Test team.

    In a 16-year career, the 39-year-old Dravid built a reputation as a masterful batsman with immense powers of concentration. His painstaking approach and ability to stay at the crease despite the best efforts of opposing bowlers earned him the nickname "The Wall."

    "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,'' Dravid said at a news conference on Friday.

    "I have failed at times, but I have never stopped trying... It is why I leave with sadness but also with pride"

    Rahul Dravid

    "I have failed at times, but I have never stopped trying.

    "It is why I leave with sadness but also with pride."

    The No. 3 batsman formed part of a feared India batting lineup also boasting Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman, both of whom could soon follow their teammate into international retirement.

    "There was and is only one Rahul Dravid, there can be no other,'' Tendulkar, India's "Little Master," told the NDTV news channel.

    "I will miss Rahul in the dressing room and out in the middle. I have shared the best moments with him.''

    Record catcher

    Dravid, who had already quit one-day and Twenty20 international cricket, scored five centuries in 2011 and in England became the first player ever to score three centuries for a team that lost every Test in a series.

    But he could manage only 194 runs during India's recent 4-0 Test whitewash in Australia amid calls for India to give younger batsmen a chance.

    "I've played for 16 years and it was time I moved on to give a chance to youngsters to take the team forward,'' Dravid said.

    Dravid scored 13,228 runs in 164 Tests with 36 centuries, and 10,889 runs in 344 one-dayers with 12 centuries. He also holds the record for most Test catches by a fielder with 210.

    " 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"

    Rahul Dravid

    Among many other distinctions, Dravid has scored centuries in all 10 Test-playing countries, and once scored four consecutive centuries (against England and the West Indies) in 2002.

    His 376-run stand with Laxman against Australia at the Eden Gardens at Kolkata in 2001 helped India win the Test despite following on, and he became only the second batsman after Don Bradman to score double hundreds in three successive series when he compiled 222 versus New Zealand at Ahmedabad in 2003-04, 233 against Australia at Adelaide in 2003-04 and 270 versus Pakistan at Rawalpindi in 2003-04.

    His most memorable Test performance was scoring that 233 and a 72 not out to ensure India's first Test victory in Australia in 23 years.

    "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," he said, thanking his coaches, captains and selectors who backed him over the years.

    SOURCE: AP


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