“The real secret of magic lies in the performance….” – David Copperfield
A man who lived by these words – VVS Laxman, a tall unassuming Hyderabadi who could turn on his magic by a simple flick of his wrists. Tendulkar had talent, Ganguly had passion, Dravid had method and Sehwag, the swagger. Laxman’s arsenal comprised of a pair of flexi wrists that could turn matches and a big heart to perform under trying circumstances.
VVS Laxman has always remained a mystery to me. Whenever I watched him play, I always wondered – How can someone keep things so simple?
The casual approach to the crease, the balanced stance, the wristy flicks and the repeated tapping of the return crease with the bat was a routine sight for any regular visitor at the Eden. Every time the ball hurried towards the mid wicket boundary, one would definitely hear… “Oh Lokkhon…total class” along with the deafening thunder of claps.
Hailing from Kolkata, I have had the privilege of being entertained by Hyderabadi batsmen for quite some time now. During the 90s, Md. Azharuddin made Eden Garden his own backyard and in the 2000s, it became Laxman’s canvas of creativity. Being an earnest Tendulkar fan, I would turn up at the Eden to watch him play a big innings but invariably return home after witnessing a Laxman spectacle.
All these years I wondered why I loved to watch him bat even though he never made it to my list of favorite batsmen. Was it the flicks through mid wicket? Was it the inside out shot ? Was it the back foot punch that screamed though the covers? Or was it the way he absorbed pressure in taxing times?
The answer however, is none of the above. I adored VVS because he kept things simple. He could never bludgeon the ball, could never defend like a wall, could never hit towering DLF maximums yet he could always do something special. For me, he was like an average human being who created magic through his simplicity. Maybe that’s why he never played a World Cup, never topped the ICC charts and was never even considered for captaincy. He made sacrifices and lived a simple life. He was like an ordinary employee who did everything that the bosses asked for. Opened the innings, batted at number 3 when the wall had a chink or two and often had the company of the lesser talented with the willow to boot with. He did all that and with an infectious grin on his face. He made everything look easy and every situation under control.
We didn’t applaud when he gave up his icon status in the IPL, we never made a noise when Dinesh Mongia was favored to him in 2003, and we barely noticed that he went unsold in this edition of the IPL. He never complained and we never paid attention because he didn’t want us to. He was happy creating magic unnoticed!
Now with his retirement, he again showed his big heart. He could have erased the disappointments of the last two tours against a Kiwi side but he chose not to. He timed it perfectly and as always bowed out with a lot of class. Indian cricket, however will miss him. It won’t be against the toothless Kiwis though but come Australia, five down for not many in the 2nd innings…we will miss the flick through midwicket that will convey the Indian fans…
“Re-lax man…. I’ve got this!”