Rahul Dravid is undoubtedly one of the greatest cricketers ever to have played the game. But in his own eyes, he was “more a failure than a success.” It is not to be construed as a stick used by Dravid to beat himself with, but as the necessary perspective that helped him negotiate the ups and downs in his career.

At the GoSports Foundation’s annual Athletes Conclave on Friday, Dravid and Abhinav Bindra, in separate sessions, spoke on dealing with failure and the pressures associated with modern sport, as a bunch of athletes sat in rapt attention

“I am quite qualified to speak on failure,” Dravid said with a laugh. “I played internationals 604 times, but I didn't cross 50 on 410 of those occasions. When you fail, you tend to brush a lot of things under the carpet. You try to blame someone, find an excuse. But it's a really good opportunity to learn about yourself.”

“Like when you fail on an overseas tour, one way to react to is to say, 'these conditions are not right, or I didn't get enough practice’ and think 'when I play in India again, there are six Tests – hopefully against Sri Lanka the way they are playing – I will make up my average. But the greatest players I played with looked at it as an opportunity. So you need to learn to fail well."

The Indian batting legend sought to use the famous 2001 Test against Australia at Kolkata, as an example in dealing with the pressures of failure.

“We had lost badly in Mumbai and my form wasn’t good. I was demoted to No. 6. When I was walking in during the second innings, Steve Waugh said 'Rahul at 6? next Test at 12?' But I just told myself, 'let me see how many one balls can I play' It was the simplest thing I could do and it worked.”

“So get yourself to focus on the simplest and most important thing. This requires practise over and over again. This is a skill. But a learnt skill. It doesn't always work, but it’s a lesson I have always carried.”

According to Bindra, failure, struggle and suffering are to be embraced if one wants to be a champion athlete. “I was not a competitive person,” the Beijing Gold medallist said. “It wasn’t my nature. But I had to struggle to give myself a chance. You need to suffer, struggle…learn to enjoy suffering. It sounds stupid and crazy, but they are essential.”

“To say there is no pressure is a lie,” he added. “What you need is to learn to accept pressure. I didn't sleep the day before the Beijing final. But I was prepared because during many a competition before, I had forced myself not to sleep. So accepting the suffering is important.”