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On Sprezzatura and Rahul Dravid

There is a word that I recently read in Nicholas Naseem Taleb's The bed of Procrustes. They call it Sprezzatura. The oxford dictionary defines it as studied nonchalance. All admired athletes have this quality. They make what they do look exceedingly simple. Sachin, Laxman and Federer all possess this is in spades. They have a languid grace that belies the effort they put into their game.
This is precisely the problem with Rahul Dravid. You can see exactly how much effort he has put into his game. Every single knock he plays, the effort is palpable. He drips buckets of sweat, seldom looks to be effortless hitting the ball and he never takes it easy. His batting is graceful yes but never does it look effortless. When he plays a cover drive it is plain to see that he has practiced the same shot in the net on countless occasions.
Dravid it seems has always been destined to be the sidekick and the hero. In every single partnership he has been overshadowed by his partner at the other end. Think of match turning partnerships in test matches and Rahul Dravid has usually had a hand in them. The majestic 281 that Laxman scored had Dravid at the other end scoring 180 priceless runs, dripping sweat. He was not even remotely in the best of form but he stuck around. A vivid memory from that knock is a drive he hit through mid wicket stepping out to Shane Warne. At taunton when Saurav Ganguly plundered 181 against Sri Lanka he was the one with 145. What even fewer people remember is the fact that he was the aggressor when the innings began and Ganguly only stepped it up later on. Incidentally when Sachin scored a century against Kenya Dravid was again the sidekick.
Dravid deserves to be admired as one of the greats of the game. A recognition he seldom receives and I suppose this is because we like our geniuses born not made.


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