Rahul Dravid has stated he always cherished the battles he had with bowlers because it allowed him to bring his strength, his patience, to the fore while also helping him concentrate better. He further explained his different playing style and the need to spend time away from the game.
Rahul Dravid never burst onto the scene like Sachin Tendulkar did and rarely did he explode on the field to provide a spectacular highlight reel like Virender Sehwag. Instead, he relied upon his old-school approach of wearing the bowler out, taking risks only when necessary by defending the good balls and punishing the bad balls. His methodical batting earned him an unassuming nickname of 'The Wall', fitting for the current Indian head coach given how he explains his batting style as compared to other stalwarts of the game.
"As my career progressed, I realised, I was never gonna be someone who will be scoring quickly like a Sehwag did or maybe to an extent as Sachin did. I was always going to need patience. I loved that contest between me and the bowler, sort of tried to make it a one-on-one contest. I found that help me concentrate a bit more," Dravid told Abhinav Bindra on his podcast 'In the Zone'.
However, early on in his career, Dravid's biggest strength on the field was perhaps what was keeping him scaling great heights as well. Even though his ability to understand his own game and work on it was exemplary, the batsman perhaps worked too hard for his own good, exhausting himself to no end. It eventually began to impact his game negatively, something the veteran of 509 international matches was quick to realize. Ultimately, the 49-year-old got the hang of how and more importantly, when to focus, allowing him to build a highly successful career on a foundation of mental strength.
"If I look back at my career, that (channelising the energy) was a game-changer. I was really able to channel my mental energy. I used to spend a lot of energy even when I was not playing thinking about my game, worrying about it, and reflecting on it. In time I learned that was not necessarily helping my batting. I needed to refresh and almost find a life outside of cricket," Dravid revealed.
"Honestly, I was never going to be like Viru (Virender Sehwag). He found it much easier to switch off because of his personality. I was never going to get to that level. But I started recognising the red flags, I realised when I was getting too intense. I knew I needed to find a way to switch it off but it was the mental side of the thing that you need to help yourself. It came down to you recognising that this was as important to you as those extra hours in the gym and practice sessions. If you did all of that but were unable to switch off mentally, you are not gonna have enough energy to play the game. Once I start recognising that three or four years in my career, I started to make an effort to switch off a lot more and it helped me a lot," he added.
One could say it worked out well for the legend, given his tally of 24,208 international runs, the sixth most of any batsman in the history of the game.