By the end of Perth we’d seen some people. We’d seen Lorgat, Shastri, Ganguly, Waugh, Nicholas and Cummins too. We’d even seen Jason Donovan unsuccessfully parking a car. We wanted more, way more, and there was one player that we wanted more than anyone else, a man whose forward defence is tattooed into every Test fan’s memory; Rahul Dravid.
Initial efforts to get through the stoic defence brought nothing. Luckily, Sam doesn’t like to (or even accept that he can) fail. One day when the 1400 strong security detail for India’s net session weren’t looking, Sam made a break for it and got Rahul to agree to an interview. Elation.
But getting him to agree and actually interviewing him were two different things. We knew that Dravid would be a man of his word, but he’d need time, and where would he get that in the middle of a Test Series?
Thankfully for us (if not for a billion or so Indians), India’s bad form gave us two extra days off in Perth, and we received an email from Rahul. Then we called him. Then we met him.
That Monday he shook our hands twice.
The first handshake was one of a man who’d rather be reading John Keats on his balcony while drinking a shandy. It was gentle, and you could barely distinguish the hands whose silky soft touch guide the ball behind point. Either he was just a man who shook as softly as he catches in the slips, or he was put off by our shabby demeanor and questionable aroma. If it was the latter, thankfully it didn’t put him off his game. Once the camera was on he was exactly as you’d expect Dravid to be; thoughtful, decisive, intelligent and passionate.
Sometimes he replied with a late verbal defensive shot, and other times he answered with an elegantly punched oral drive. But when we spoke, he didn’t treat us like the disgusting group of men we so clearly were. He has this way about him that makes you feel like he’s on your side. You should be shitting yourself sitting down in front of him, but instead he makes it feel like you’re just at a friend’s place talking rubbish.
The second handshake came after the interview.
It was completely different from the first – this was the handshake of a man who clearly liked the questions he’d answered and was happy we were making the film. It was firm, more like he slapped our hands and then held on. And he didn’t just do it to me, or Sam, he went through our whole crew with the same sort of enthusiastic handshake that makes you feel better about yourself and life in general. I’m not sure any handshake has ever made me feel better.
In our own shambolic way, we appeared to have won over one of the keepers of Test Cricket’s flame. With one longer-than-he-agreed-to interview and boisterous handshake Dravid had reinforced to us that we knew what were doing and that we could in fact make a film about something as monstrous as Test Cricket’s future and present.
Sure we could run out of money, overdose on chips, or even be freakishly killed at the same time by some rabid T20 fundamentalist’s aggressive six while we walked Reservoir Dogs-style through a park. But Dravid shook our hands like we were doing the right thing. So we have something on our side.
And once you’ve touched Dravid twice, you’re different, better, and more stoic.