NEW DELHI: Team-mates and rivals joined hands to pay glowing tributes to India’s batting great Rahul Dravid, who quit international cricket on Friday after an illustrious 16-year career.
“There was and is only one Rahul Dravid,” said record-breaking compatriot Sachin Tendulkar.
“There can be no other. I will miss Rahul in the dressing room and out in the middle.”
Dravid amassed 13,288 runs in 164 Tests, including a 270 against Pakistan in 2004 among 36 centuries, making him the world’s second-highest scorer after Tendulkar.
“Dravid is obviously one of India’s greatest batsmen — great in all conditions and one who scored runs everywhere,” said John Wright, former New Zealand skipper who coached India from 2000 to 2005.
“From a personal perspective, Rahul is one of the best men I’ve ever worked with… he’s not only a great cricketer, but a great man.”
Dravid, who also scored 10,889 runs in 344 one-day internationals, was also a reliable slip fielder with a world record 210 Test catches.
Former India skipper and Karnataka team-mate Anil Kumble described Dravid as “the perfect ambassador” for cricket and an “ideal team man”.
“Let me take this opportunity to congratulate Rahul,” said Kumble, who sat alongside Dravid with Indian cricket chief Narayanaswamy Srinivasan as he announced his retirement at a press conference in Bangalore.
“I am really fortunate to have played alongside you. I’ve enjoyed every moment I’ve played with you. It’s been an honour.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan and current batsman Kevin Pietersen described Dravid as a “legend” on their Twitter accounts.
“Rahul Dravid retires.. The world’s most respected cricketer over the last 20 (years),” wrote Vaughan.
Pietersen wrote: “Rahul Dravid-LEGEND!! Plain & simple.. congrats on an incredible career!! India will miss The Wall.”India boss Srinivasan called Dravid “one of the finest cricketers India has ever produced” and a “great role model”.
“I would echo everyone’s praise when we say ‘Thank you Rahul’. Thank you for what you have given to Indian cricket and we wish you very, very well,” he said.
“He (Dravid) is actually irreplaceable. None of us want to see such players go away, we like to think they are permanent. Not only has he been a great player but also a great role model.”
Australia all-rounder Shane Watson, who played with Dravid for the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, described the Indian as “the nicest guy” in the sport.
“He’s probably the nicest guy — no, he is the nicest guy — that I’ve met in cricket. He’s a phenomenal man,” said Watson.
“He loves the game with so much passion, 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.”
South African great Jacques Kallis said Dravid possessed “one of the best techniques in the game and was always a prize wicket to get”.
“The game will be a little poorer without him,” Kallis was quoted as saying by the Cricinfo website.
“He set high standards for himself and for India. What he has achieved in the game is incredible.”
India team-mate Harbhajan Singh described Dravid as a “great motivator”.
“The manner he prepared for each and every Test match, it was a lesson for all of us,” the off-spinner said.