The Power of Positive Thinking, Over time those who played with R

The Power of Positive Thinking

- By Vedam Jaishankar

Over time those who played with Rahul Dravid came to realise that for him cricket was not just a game. He was desperate to do well and was mentally and physically conditioning himself to that end. Even at that young age he realised that any opportunity was not to be wasted. This was particularly true when it came to nets.

Positive Thinking

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Rahul was perpetually driving himself ahead, both in sport and studies. But he had so compartmentalised himself that even at a young age he sought to gain maximum advantage from any situation.

He attended club or state junior nets in the morning and school nets in the evening. In between he was busy with his schooling and the activities associated with it. Thus he simply had no time to waste or goof off.

This was brought to the fore during cricket nets. Most batsmen used to bat seriously for a while before fooling around. But this was not the case with Rahul. If he batted even for 15 minutes he would ensure that he got the maximum out of it. Both Fazal Khaleel and Sujith Somasundar recall how he used to sharply talk to any bowler who fooled around while he was batting. Right at the beginning he would ask them where their imaginary fielders would be positioned and would bat to that. He would expect the bowlers too to bowl seriously and to their field.

"In many ways he was getting more out of nets than anybody else. It was not a put on. It was just that he was far too focused and serious than anybody else in the group. He brought this kind of focused play at nets at the junior level and to this day I have not seen him approach nets in any other fashion," said Fazal in open admiration of his friend from kindergarten days.

His hard work and intense play notwithstanding, Rahul had a streak of superstition that stayed with him. He was a great admirer of Sunil Gavaskar and GR Vishwanath. Early in his career he had read that Gavaskar always wore something new for every game. Rahul too decided that he would go with the idiosyncrasy.

"I don't think he could afford it at that stage," said Sujit. "But Rahul was a creature of habit. If he did something different on any day and if, coincidentally he also scored a lot of runs that day, Rahul would do that something every time he had a match.

"The first time he played with something new fetched him success. He became so superstitious that from then on he always wore a new item on a match day. It could be anything - a pin or socks or handkerchief, a shoelace, anything at all. But Rahul always wore something new before a match."

Apparently this `wearing something new' was not the only fetish or superstition he had. Fazal spoke of a South Zone under-15 cricket camp at Thiruvananthapuram, formerly Trivandrum, in Kerala.

"Some of us sat under a tree which was quite far from the pavilion. Rahul too was with us. He was padded and awaited his turn to bat in that camp match. When it came, he walked into the ground from that place under the tree. He went on to get a lot of runs in that innings. From then on, even if there was nobody under that tree Rahul would walk in to bat only from there. Sometimes he used to be alone under that tree, awaiting the fall of a wicket. He was so far away from the rest of us in the pavilion that it used to be funny. But Rahul was not bothered. His faith in his superstition was far greater than any fear of ridicule."

But even where superstition was concerned Rahul was far more intelligent than the others. He made sure that some of his superstitions worked for him by imbibing lessons that others missed out on. Sujith who was Rahul's roommate on many a tour pointed this out.

"Rahul always carried two books with him: 'Tough times never last, but tough people do' by Robert Schuller and 'The power of positive thinking' by Norman Vincent Peale. He was very superstitious about these two books. Every night, before going to sleep he would lie in bed and compulsorily read a few pages from at least the Schuller book and then tuck it under his pillow before falling asleep. The Schuller book, in particular, was like a religion to him and over time he simply adopted that philosophy.

"I've read these books now and am aware of its message. But Rahul used to soak into this philosophy from the Under-15 days," said Sujith.

It is this kind of focus that Rahul brought into play, whether at camp or at nets, or in the matches, or even in his choice of superstition that channeled his energy into becoming a great cricketer.

Extracted from Rahul Dravid A Biography by Vedam Jaishankar.