In Geoffery Boycott’s words, on the 2011 tour of England, India played ‘like Bangladesh in disguise.’ The words weren’t meant so much as an insult to Bangladesh. Rather, they were perhaps meant to show that England and the cricket fans had expected so much more from India.
India’s tour of England in 2011 was the starting of the end for many greats. But it was a tour which despite the harsh results allowed the world to witness Rahul Dravid in all his glory one final time. Back to the walls, standing alone in the wreck that was India’s batting on the tour, proud, defiant, unyielding...
There was another series against the West Indies back in India but by January 2012, just five months after the end of the England tour, he retired.
The retirement felt even more sudden because of what we had all seen in England. His connect with the country went back to the 95 he had scored on debut at Lord’s in 1996. He had also won a series in England as captain in 2007.
Still, 2011 had started particularly well for India. In 2010, they had become the world’s top Test nation and the ODI World Cup triumph earlier in the year had filled them with even more confidence. This was a team looking to conquer and the confidence was largely based on their experienced batting line-up – Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and last but certainly not the least, Dravid.
It was a team that had made several trips to England. They understood swing and had scored plenty of runs in those conditions.
But things, inexplicably, went south. England won the first Test by 196 runs, the second by 319 runs, the third by an innings and 242 runs and the fourth by an innings and 8 runs. India didn’t come close to winning.
In fact, the only batsman who put up any sort of meaningful resistance was Dravid. Tendulkar tried, but to be fair, he wasn’t at his best.
Dravid faced 965 balls – the most by any Indian batsman. He scored 461 runs – the most by any Indian batsman. He scored three centuries – the only Indian batsman to score a century. He carried his bat through a completed Test innings and straight into the follow-on. His final average of 76.83 was more than double that of any of his team-mates
His defiance was simply magnificent... and at the end of the day, not enough.
“It’s sad for us that, collectively, we’ve all had a tough tour,” said Dravid during the final Test. “That hasn’t happened to us for a long time, where all the batsmen have failed. People do have bad tours, but this time we haven’t clicked as a unit. No one’s going out there trying not to succeed, everyone’s been working hard, but we’ve just been found wanting against a better team.”
He added: “There will be mixed feelings. There’s a sense of satisfaction at the quality of the way I’ve played because I’ve always enjoyed batting and playing cricket, and competing and getting the best of myself. I continue to try to do that, irrespective of my age and the situation I’m in... but when you get a hundred and don’t end up winning, it doesn’t feel nice. I hadn’t experienced it too much in my career [until this tour], so you experience something new all the time.”
Here’s a look at some of Dravid’s finest moments on the tour:
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