Former India skipper Rahul Dravid shared his thoughts on why Suresh Raina was a special team player, after the left-handed batsman announced his retirement from international cricket on Saturday.
“Suresh Raina really was one of those young, exciting talents who was coming through the system in the middle of the 2000s,” Dravid ina video shared by the BCCI Twitter handle.
“Playing U-19 cricket and doing very well. You could see even at that time that Suresh was going to be a very, very important player for India. And that is really how it played out in the last decade and a half,” he added.
The 33-year-old is among the few who made centuries across all three formats, having played 18 Tests, 226 ODIs and 78 T20 Internationals while scoring 768, 5615 and 1605 runs respectively. He also has 36 ODI wickets to his name and 13 each in Tests and T20Is.
Since the timing of announcement coincided with that of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s decision to bid adieu to international cricket too, many initially chose to focus on the former India skipper but it would be hard to forget the left-hander’s immense contribution to Indian cricket.
While Raina’s Test career didn’t exactly go to plan, he played a very important role for India in the white-ball game. His ability to come down the order and start hitting the big shots right away was invaluable.
Dravid added: “A lot of the success that India has had in white-ball cricket; a lot of the great memories... Suresh has been a part of them. I think his contribution to Indian cricket, especially in the white-ball game, has been fantastic. He is World Cup winner, he is a Champions Trophy winner and just the fact that he contributed so much on the field... just the energy and the enthusiasm he brought, the way he raised the standard of the fielding.”
When Raina initially came on the scene in domestic cricket, he was a very correct batsman but he adapted his game to the needs of the team. He never learned how to say ‘no’. No matter how difficult the task, Raina was ready to take up the job without a doubt in his mind.
“One thing you always felt Suresh did was do all the difficult things,” said Dravid. “Batting lower down the order when honestly his numbers could have been a lot better if he had batted higher up the order and that has been shown out in the success he has had for CSK in the IPL where he bats at No 3 and has an absolutely phenomenal record.
“He is one of the phenomenal players of the IPL over the last decade or so. But for India, for most part, he batted lower down the order, fielded at the difficult positions, bowled some very handy overs and always brought a lot to the team. Someone, who I would think of as a terrific team-man who always gave his best and brought some great energy to the game and was a very, very skillful batter.”
Indeed, it is never easy being part of a successful team. Each player has to do his part and Raina always found a way to make a contribution.
“I guess he couldn’t replicate the success of his debut hundred in his Test career but be that as it may, his contribution to India in one-day cricket was fantastic and he was part of a very, very successful Indian one-day team over the last decade and a half.”
Watch the full video here