We, cricket lovers of this era, are really fortunate to have been able to watch 2 of the greatest No. 3 batsmen of all time. Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting at their best would have probably walked in to any side of any era. They have guided India and Australia to many a famous victory. As individuals, the 2 of them are as different as they can get. Ponting portrays himself as a confident, outspoken and at times arrogant personality whereas Dravid is more the humble and soft spoken types. If Ponting is about flair, Dravid is about discipline. The only thing similar is their batting averages and, unfortunately the fact that they are going through a rather long lean patch.
Rahul Dravid has been my all time favourite ever since he made his debut at Lords in 1996. He has been a savior to the Indian team on numerous occasions. There was a phase in Indian cricket, before the Sehwag- Gambhir era, when Team India did not have the same openers for more than ten matches. This meant that Dravid at No. 3 was in more often than not, when the ball was new and hard. This is what makes his achievements and runs all the more special. For a comaparison, Ricky Ponting always played with some great opening batsmen which would have definitely made it a little easier. There have been times when Dravid has had to open the batting and never once has he complained. He has relished these challenges which were epitomized when he got the mammoth 400 run opening stand with Sehwag on Pakistani soil. Most of India’s famous test victories have Rahul Dravid’s stamp on them.
Ricky Ponting took Australia from strength to more strength. It is really hard to imagine an Australian side without Ricky batting at No. 3. He had a different approach to that of Dravid’s, wherein Ponting would look to take on the bowling rather than grind them out. Not too long ago, Ponting was tipped to overtake Tendulkar in runs and centuries.
It is a pity now to see these two greats struggling to make runs. We are so used to seeing them score heavily on a consistent basis that even a couple of poor series makes us feel like its all over for them. It would be a disaster if they are dropped from their respective teams but one cannot completely rule it out. In Australia, we’ve seen that past records do not really matter and in India, we know that unless you are Sachin Tendulkar you must not expect fair treatment. This is why I feel that maybe both these legendary No. 3 batsmen should look to bat down the order, maybe 5 or even 6. They both have done it before at the start of their careers and may very well be successful. A bowling unit would be really pleased after capturing 4 wickets, but then, to turn around and see a Ponting or Dravid walk out at number 6 might just deflate them.
India tour Australia at the end of this year. A number of legends have retired at the SCG. Could we possibly see Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting bow out together at the SCG? Cricket will be a lot poorer then….