Pause, rewind, play: Words of wisdom from The Wall – two timeless lectures by Rahul Dravid
At Marcellus, we are ardent fans of ‘The Wall’ – Rahul Dravid, not least because of the similarities between our investing beliefs and his batting temperament – minimising risk, but also the statesmanship he exudes which makes his contribution to the game go beyond that as a player – someone who derives meaning and purpose from the profession. This piece in The Scroll recollects two of his lectures – the 2011 Bradman oration and the 2015 Pataudi lecture, which bring out his statesmanship qualities – an ability to read and learn from diverse fields, the resulting clarity of thought and ability to articulate his views on the bigger issues, exemplified by his opening for the Bradman speech:
“First before all else, I must say that I find myself humbled by the venue we find ourselves in. Even though there is neither a pitch in sight, nor stumps or bat and balls, as a cricketer, I feel I stand on very sacred ground tonight. When I was told that I would be speaking at the National War Memorial, I thought of how often and how meaninglessly, the words ‘war’, ‘battle’, ‘fight’ are used to describe cricket matches.
Yes, we cricketers devote the better part of our adult lives to being prepared to perform for our countries, to persist and compete as intensely as we can – and more. This building, however, recognises the men and women who lived out the words – war, battle, fight – for real and then gave it all up for their country, their lives left incomplete, futures extinguished.
The people of both our countries are often told that cricket is the one thing that brings Indians and Australians together. That cricket is our single common denominator.
India’s first Test series as a free country was played against Australia in November 1947, three months after our independence. Yet the histories of our countries are linked together far more deeply than we think and further back in time than 1947.
We share something else other than cricket. Before they played the first Test match against each other, Indians and Australians fought wars together, on the same side. In Gallipoli, where, along with the thousands of Australians, over 1300 Indians also lost their lives. In World War II, there were Indian and Australian soldiers in El Alamein, North Africa, in the Syria-Lebanon campaign, in Burma, in the battle for Singapore.
Before we were competitors, Indians and Australians were comrades. So it is only appropriate that we are here this evening at the Australian War Memorial, where along with celebrating cricket and cricketers, we remember the unknown soldiers of both nations.”
In 2012, noted sports journalist Gideon Haigh was delivering the oration and he started off his speech saying, “Last year, Rahul Dravid delivered perhaps the best and certainly the most-watched of all Bradman Orations, a superbly crafted double-century of a speech on which, I remember thinking at the time, it would be hard to improve.”
“Now I find myself coming in after Rahul, a job so huge that India has traditionally left it to Sachin Tendulkar. By that marker, I can really only disappoint,” Haigh added.”
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