Spare a thought for Rahul Dravid. Even on the day that he made one of his finest Test centuries against Sri Lanka, most of the news headlines were given over to comments made by a cartoonist-turned-right-wing ideologue. But Bal Thackeray’s critical remarks were aimed at Sachin Tendulkar, and nothing gets India into a lather quite like unkind words about its cricketing Peter Pan. So, though Tendulkar’s first innings of a third decade in Test cricket lasted just three balls, Dravid’s magnificent 177, which led the team from the wilderness of 32 for four to 426 and included his 11,000th Test run, became “in other news”.
He’s had enough time to get used to it though. Cults of personality are rare in team sport but when present, they can be especially fanatical. Most people can name only one player from the Argentina team that won football’s World Cup in 1986. With El Diego around, who could spare the time for Jorge Valdano’s finishing or Sergio Batista’s tackling? It was always the No10 and the rest.
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