Indiranagar, where the Dravids live, is a decidedly
up-market residential locality in Bangalore. It was
not so in the 1970s and early 80s when the city did
not extend beyond Ulsoor in the east. A few
kilometers after the Ulsoor residential layout was
the HAL Airport (one of Bangalore's Defence
airports, doubling up also for civilian flights),
reckoned at that time to be outside city limits.
Indiranagar, wedged between Ulsoor and the airport
was looked upon only as an extension of Ulsoor.
However, the excellent quality of the road that
connected the city to the airport and passed beside
Indiranagar drove a lot of residents and corporates
to seek property in the area. Gradually, it became
one of the most sought-after addresses in the City.
Thus the Indiranagar of today is a bustling
bee-hive of activity. Residential bungalows,
multi-storied flats and modern commercial complexes
co-exist cheek by jowl. Multinational software
firms, glitzy shopping malls, trendy restaurants,
happening-pubs, bars, posh clubs and
super-specialty hospitals have mushroomed in what
was previously an exclusive residential area.
Of course, when Rahul Dravid was in his pre-teens,
most of these commercial activities were
non-existent. There were very few bungalows or
houses and the area was marked by numerous huge
vacant spaces. The Dravids themselves lived on the
same street as erstwhile Test star EAS Prasanna,
arguably one of the greatest off spinners of all
time, and Sadanand Vishwanath, undoubtedly one of
India's most gifted wicket-keepers.
`Sadanand, in those days lived just two doors away.
His younger brother Santosh Bhavani and I virtually
grew up together and played a lot of cricket in the
vast open spaces that dominated Indiranagar those
days,'' Rahul recalled.
Most of the cricket the young boys in the locality
played was confined to the tennis ball variety.
Matches were staged against teams from other
streets. ``Occasionally, we used to play cork ball
cricket matches with the winners taking home
pencils or small shields or such trophies. There
were times when we used to roll out some small,
used coir mats on a near flat surface to try and
play with cricket ball. Of course there was no
pitch as such,'' he recounted with a smile.
Rahul himself was a short, skinny boy and saw
cricket as just one more sport. "I loved team
games. I was not particularly fascinated by cricket
in the initial stages. In fact I used to play a lot
of hockey. The important thing though was that I
enjoyed being with other young boys and hence
looked forward to team sport in any form. Of course
a whole lot of kids in the area played cricket
rather than anything else and I joined in the fun.
The matches against the other teams in the
neighbouring streets or locality brought forth a
lot of competitiveness."
By today's standards, Rahul could be termed a late
starter to formal cricket. These days, parents are
keen to push six and seven-year olds into coaching
camps. The young boys are forced into formal
coaching with ambitious parents transporting them
from house to camp, from camp to school and again
from school to camp each day. Parents spend an
enormous sum of money and time on these kids in the
hope that they could vicariously live their lives
For Rahul, though, things were very different. ``I
played just for fun those days. I became engrossed
in the game a lot later. I had no formal coaching
whatsoever till I was 13 years of age.
''My father used to play a bit of recreational
badminton with PS Vishwanath (former Karnataka
State Ranji Trophy player and a qualified Netaji
Institute of Sport coach who went on to become a
vice president of KSCA) and casually mentioned that
I was keen on cricket. Those days KSCA used to run
a summer coaching camp at the stadium for young
boys. PS Vishwanath was in charge of the camp. The
camp was already well under way when he asked my
dad to bring me along.''
It was then, at the age of 12, that Rahul took part
in formal 'nets' and received coaching. He had
joined the summer camp late that year. But now knew
that there was this coaching camp to look forward
to the next summer.
'Thus the following summer I enrolled in advance.
PS Vishwanath, chief coach, who did the allocation
of trainees to the various nets, sent me to Keki
Tarapore (another former State player and NIS
coach). From then on the KSCA system took over,''