Two excellent cricketers retired today: Rahul Dravid and Isa Guha. Dravid is the better known and with respect to Guha I think rightly so. It’s always sad to see such a great of the game go, but especially one who so consistently played the right way. It’s a vague and subjective description I know, but no others seem to encapsulate Dravid in quite the same way. I’d like to say he was graceful, but many of his best innings were much more nuggety than graceful (as Alan Tyers describes brilliantly here) and anyway grace is not why I liked him as a cricketer. He played selflessly, even in his retirement announcement he said that he did not want a farewell Test when he did not think he could contribute to a victory. He was one of the few batsmen, certainly in India but in the world in general, who could still play a classical Test innings. In the end, to say that he played the game the right way is not only the best, but almost the only appropriate way to describe him. And whilst it is sad to see him go, it is also very nice to see him go out displaying the same dignity and selflessness he did playing. Some of his teammates should take note.
Whilst Dravid deserves the lion’s share of the media, we should not forget the contribution that Guha made to the England team. She was an integral part of the team that won the Triple Crown of the Ashes, the fifty over World Cup and the twenty over World Cup. England are arguably a better team now than they were then, but it seemed to me that that team was one that significantly raised the profile of women’s cricket. (Trophies tend to have that effect!) Without that, the current women’s team may not have got the advantage of professionalism that they enjoy. Guha’s retirement may not have the same implications as Dravid’s, but it is an important marker all the same.