Three weeks after announcing his retirement from domestic and international cricket, Rahul Dravid said at the BCCI's felicitation function here on Tuesday that he had made a pact with himself: not to cry.
“I have been tested to the limit today. The sentiments expressed by Anil Kumble, V.V.S. Laxman, Sourav Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been touching. Sometimes I feel I have not retired what with the IPL keeping me busy. Maybe when June comes, it will start sinking in.
“I may not be playing for India anymore, but I will watch this young Indian team with great interest with a cup of tea and biscuit in hand. I want the Indian team to be a strong force on and off the field,'' said Dravid, during the course of a 15-minute speech to the audience that included former Indian captains and players like Madhav Apte, Bapu Nadkarni, Bishan Singh Bedi, Ajit Wadekar, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Dhoni as well as BCCI officials.
Dravid did not forget to thank the BCCI for taking Indian cricket to great heights. “When I went to England in 1996, I felt that the Indian cricket team was treated like a second class citizen. We played in the first half of the season and at small grounds.
“The cricketers have changed Indian cricket by leaps and bounds, but the BCCI has played its role by making the Indian team the big boys of international cricket. Our generation of players have left a legacy for Mahi [Dhoni] and his team to take forward,'' said Dravid, who was presented a silver salver by Sanjay Jagdale, Secretary, BCCI, and Anuragh Thakur, Joint Secretary, BCCI.
Dravid also made a special mention of Ganguly, under whom he was deputy for five years.
“We had our ups and downs, but eventually we came out with flying colours. When I sit back and take it all, I think I have lived my dream of playing for India, and with my heroes. So blessed I have been to live the dream for 16 years.”
He thanked the groundsmen, scorers, umpires and the organisers of cricket matches.
Dhoni was the last among the cricketers to speak after Kumble, Laxman and Ganguly.
“Rahul [Dravid] was always ready to give his best for the team and the country. He always had a solution and said yes. Dravid would walk through the obstacles, not around it. That was his greatness,'' said Dhoni.
BCCI president N. Srinivasan said through a recorded message: “There is nothing he did not do for Indian cricket. The fans will miss him.''