It’s been a while since VVS announced his retirement, but it is still hard to believe that he is not going to turn up for India ever again. Much like his dear friend Rahul Dravid, Laxman has been synonymous with the Indian middle order for more than a decade. So, when the Indian team take the field at Hyderabad for the first Test, it is going to be a strange feeling for long time followers of Indian cricket.
Most of my fond memories about India’s performances in Tests can be largely attributed to Laxman. Kolkata, Mohali, Sydney, Durban – he has produced masterpieces all over the cricket world. Along with Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Sehwag, Laxman was an integral jewel in the crown that was Indian batting. While the likes of Dravid and Tendulkar led India to the top of the rankings, Laxman ensured that the team stayed there, as brief as the reign was. He was the master of the second innings, as he saved or won matches for India from critical situations. More importantly, he seemed to do all this while under constant pressure from the media to keep his place in the side. Like most important things in life, we will realize his true value, when he is not around.
Of course, when one talks about VVS, how do you know not mention his style? He may not be one of the most aggressive batsmen around, but the elegance and style with which he compiled his evergreen hits, will be sorely missed by cricket connoisseurs. After all, he was one of the rare breed of batsmen who could combine style with substance.
To top it all, like most beloved cricketers, he was one of the nicest men in international cricket. Even while under constant scrutiny from the media, he was prized most by the people who mattered – his team-mates; and his opponents, particularly the Australians, were his biggest fans. He always had a congenial smile for friends and foes alike, and the only time he lost his cool memorably, was during the Mohali Test, when he nearly decapitated his Hyderabad team-mate Pragyan Ojha for nearly costing India the game with poor running. True to his nature, he apologized to Ojha after the game.
So what does the future hold for VVS Laxman? Personally, I hope he becomes the BCCI chief or the chairman of selectors in the future. He is too good to be wasted in TV studios analyzing games and stating the bleeding obvious. It is up to Indian cricket, to make full use of a cricketer who gave his all for the nation.
Goodbye, VVS! And thank you for the memories.