Rohit Brijnath writes about the batting genius of Rahul Dravid, “His batting is not, for some, immediately appealing; it is like some paintings, it requires a second look, a considered appreciation. Soon its beauty is revealed, its simple elegance, its clean, classical lines, its divorce from awkwardness, its stylish symmetry. He plays to his own wondrous sheet music”.

I found these lines perfect to describe hard working, elegance personified Rahul Dravid. For me, he is a perfect example of a man who is playing a team role. He had his back against the wall; and he overcame that and become known as “The Wall”.  “To India’s enormous fortune, when a situation called for a batsman to stand up and be counted, Dravid was there, almost always”, says Sambit Bal. Who can forget that wonderful partnership between him and Laxman to defeat the Aussies at the Eden Garden test after India got a follow on and went on win it?

Being dropped and coming back, took a lot out of him; he needed to dig into the crevices of his mind to allow his mental strength to manifest in his batting skill. He tested the limit of physical endurance to make his body adapt to the rigors of modern day cricket. Frankly, those who know me well also know that I am a hard-core “Sachin Tendulkar” fan. But I know at the bottom of my heart that I felt more secure for Sachin when Rahul was there at the other end of the crease.

When Dravid was at the crease, the team scored 32039 runs, which amounted to 35.6% of the total runs that India made in tests in which Dravid played. So how did Rahul, after being dropped from the ODI side plan his come back and go on to score 10000+ runs in the both versions of the game? Therein lies a huge lesson for all of us.

A. Rahul was ready to ADAPT: He has performed several roles in his cricketing carrier. He opened the innings, fielded at close encounters, yielded his spot of first slip to other members of team who wanted that, kept wickets so we could have an extra bowler or batsman and many such things. If there was a tough job to be done, the team turned to Rahul. When Sambit Bal asked him if he ever felt like a sacrificial lamb in Indian Team? Rahul vehemently denied and said, “I never saw it that way. To me it felt like I was being trusted to do a tough job. It made me feel valued”. He was ready to adapt to any situation and work his way through it.

Lesson Learnt: There are times in our practice when we have to do small, unglamorous things and procedures that are not so hyped. We see others around us do full mouth rehabs, implants, smile makeovers, treating big celebrities. And we pray, “Oh God!! Let me also become like that”. While there is no harm in thinking BIG and I do that all the time but we have to realize that the unglamorous procedures are important too. Many of them help in keeping our patients’ teeth and gums healthy. So we ADAPT to the needs of the practice that we are in and learn to find pleasure in little things, which is what will eventually get us to the big stage.

B. Rahul knew his Limitations and played to his strengths: There were a lot of times in his life when he was standing at the non-strikers end and seeing the likes of Sehwags’ and Sachins’ ,  with their flair and flourish, blast their way through the opposition. But he never tried to mimic them and lose his wicket in the bargain. He did not do things that were not natural to him, that he had not practiced and mastered. The media, the critics, they all wanted him to change but it was only after a few quick dismissals when India had lost 4 wickets for 40 in several test and one day matches that everyone turned to Rahul,

Lesson Learnt: This is obvious. Nowadays we see BIG speakers on podiums showing glamorous stuff and we see the audience applaud them in the end. They do sinus grafts with simultaneous implant placements and immediate loading and the works. When we see our next patient, our treatment plans become fancier, riskier. We are sure we will mimic what the guy showed on stage. And most often than not we fall flat. We are served failures of great magnitude that we cannot survive from. The patient is now livid, financial losses become eminent and we lose our reputation in the bargain. Again, I dream of doing great things for my patients and create fancy visuals, but I know my limitations. I take up a case only when I am 100% sure I have a skill set to take it to a top most successful level. If not, I firmly refuse treatment or better still refer it to the appropriate specialist in that field. Imagine if you had to get a cataract done and a gynaecologist would say he just attended a laser lecture for such procedures and attempt it for you. Would you trust that second guy with his judgement that is best utilized between someone legs?

C. Rahul practiced hard and took all “Net” Sessions seriously: When dropped from the one day side for low scoring rate, he went on to practice smartly with a vengeance. He hired the best help he could, turned to his friends in his field for assistance and saw to it that he made them bowl the right lengths on different surfaces and with different types of balls so he could master his technique of attacking the bowler and scoring faster. And he did that so elegantly when he came back. “I always treat ‘nets’ as a match” says Rahul.

Lesson Learnt: Practice. Learn. Take a course that teaches you the skills you need. Train on accurate models. Take help of your friends and senior colleagues. Dentistry is a science that can be easily mastered technically on extracted teeth. There is more to learning than only theory. I know a large number of clinicians who are great in theory. They can argue and counter argue on treatment plans and are great “Arm-Chair” critics. But when the handpiece is given to them and we ask them to go and cut, they are shivering. Remove that fear from your mind by doing it again and again in training sessions and then go and work it out in actual match situations in your clinics.

D. ‘Visualization’, the crucial exercise before a big game:                            Before a big game or any game for that matter Dravid asked his loved ones to allow him to be free for 10 minutes. In those few minutes he focussed hard in meditation. He saw himself patting the bat down on the crease with the right stance and the most difficult bowler running up to him. He visualized an outcome and saw himself executing a perfect innings. He could also see his flaws objectively sometimes and he corrected them when he went on to play. This art of visualization was important in helping him focus on the task at hand with a clutter free mind. “I get up early on a big day, have a long meal, a long shower and see to it that I do not rush into things. That sets up a tone for match day” says Rahul.

Lessons learnt: This is one thing I can vouch for and I have used this technique for ages. Before an important case, switch off from all distractions and close your eyes and focus. Visualize yourself doing that procedure for your patient. Pick up the blade, take the incision, reflect, pilot drill, checking angulation, there’s bleeding? Stop it and proceed. Place the implant and suture. When I do this it also helps me visualize the armamentarium I need and see to it that the staff is told to keep it ready. I also see myself saying goodbye to the patient with a smile. That helps me feel the energy of the entire procedure and I am now ready. When I am more confident, the patient is calmer. Surgery usually goes well. I also rehearse presenting complex treatment plans to my patients.  What will I say first, how will I create value in his mind. Will I be able to negate his fears? How will I present the economics of it all? This is all conversed in my mind first and I usually find myself having patients who agree to what I feel is the right treatment plan for them.

Finally, for Rahul Dravid “The pleasure of what he has accomplished is not that powerful, for him, more joy is found while completing the task.” Rahul Bhattacharya rightly puts it “Watching Dravid is an inspiration because at the most visible level his lessons are lessons of life”

I have enjoyed reading “Rahul Dravid. Timeless Steel”, the source of some of these statistics. It taught me more than what any self help book would and I look forward to a successful innings in my practice in the times to come, where little things done well will hold me in good stead and reputation whenever I finally decide to hang my boots and take a long walk on the beach.

Adapt, learn, train and visualize are the mantra’s to take home.

The author Dr Ali Tunkiwala is an expert Dentist (Prosthodontist) and he writes on subject matters pertaining to dentistry and life in general. To see some of his work in dental implant surgery and full mouth restoration please visit our website