At 37 years of age, VVS Laxman has retired from the sport of cricket where you can still be at your best, even if you’re relatively old according to the sporting scale. A footballer is at his peak around 25 years of age, same is the case with many other sports. But with cricket, you can be considered a maestro even with a fairly visible paunch (look no further than Ranatunga and Inzamam) and less than a fit physical condition. No, I’m not going to be an iconoclast and bash the sometimes very very special Laxman but would put a few things into perspective.
VVS Laxman was good. He is not a legend as Saurav Ganguly has called him neither is he someone who’d go down in the history books as one of the best batsmen the game has ever seen. VVS Laxman was, pure and simply, good. He didn’t bowl, was a terrible fielder unless in the slips and did his job in the middle order. A brave cricketer, always fighting for a place in the squad, VVS always had to remind people of his 281 against Australia to make his presence felt. Without that knock, Laxman would have evaporated from people’s memories much quicker.
VVS played 134 tests and 225 innings with an average of 45.97. Good. Nothing legendary. 17 centuries, again good. Strike rate of 49.37 but again, it’s tests and we all know he wasn’t the best runner. Talking of ODIs, he wasn’t ever even given a long enough run I’d say. Playing 86 games with an average of a shade under 31, is just about good. And if someone gives a look at the media consensus, the man seems to have played an earth shattering role in India’s cricket team. All results of an over-hyped sport I’d say.
On retirement, Laxman said, “I have always kept my country’s success and need ahead of my personal aspirations. And while I would love contributing to the team’s success, especially against England and Australia, I think this is the right time to give the youngsters a chance in home conditions ahead of international assignments coming up next year.” Agree to the first part, the second, not so much. Having been picked up for only two tests for the upcoming series, the signs were ominous and it is a brave move on Laxman’s part to end it on his own terms.
Anyways, this leads one to think, is retirement (or death) the best way to recognition? This perhaps would be the moment of redemption for the man from Hyderabad. Trying throughout his career, struggling and hanging on with interspersed strokes of beauty, Laxman always had a sword hanging over his head. He never found a permanent position. Now, he has.