Friday, August 24, 2012

Of Magical Wrists And A Golden Heart

On 18th August, 2012 at around 4:35 PM, the test match fan in me died when I heard the words "Effective Immediate". My childhood hero and a legend from my land - VVS Laxman bade good bye to International Cricket and Cricket will never be the same to me.

Laxman's retirement - Leaves a void
Laxman retired with not so great numbers - a test batting average of around 46 , having played 134 tests and taken more than 100 catches. But Laxman has never been a man of numbers or else he would have had many more. If any one can come up with a weighted average of how those runs are scored ( opposition, conditions etc. ), he will have the highest average amongst current Indian batsmen.

Laxman has been the consummate team man when he played and also remains that way at the time of his retirement deciding to listen to his "inner voice" that urged him to quit for the sake of youngsters.

It is very easy to identify people of my time with Laxman - middle class, god fearing and from Hyderabad. Laxman has always been a personal favorite ever since he made his debut for India as he is easy on eyes and gives so much joy to people who watch him play. At times, he frustrated us too as he was not consistent enough with the amount of talent he had and later on sacrificed his favorite position and also his stroke play to stay in the team. In my book, he is the Best Indian No.3 (281 and 108 in Eden and Sydney show why) but since Dravid played in the same era, he didn't have enough opportunities to bat there.

Sights like these were common - Aussies getting hammered by VVS
Laxman's batting was always a treat to watch, you never get tired of watching those supple and magical wrists that come into play. He stood tall in his crease with a perfect balance and used his magic to play those amazing strokes at the very last minute that raced away to the fence. He could play the ball inside out over cover or unleash his flick past midwicket to the same ball. In the most glorious form of his life that lasted from March 2001 through May 2004, he was streets ahead of every other Indian batsmen and perhaps even the best at times in the world.

Laxman during the last five years had played the brand of cricket that has become more consistent that saw his free stroke play being curtailed and him emerging as a key match winner or saviour especially in the 4th innings. Perhaps he was told that his team would be well served if he stayed till the end and bats with the tail, one more item indicating his team ahead of self.

There are many things we can learn from him - the "can win" attitude in ALL situations, calmness in the eye of troubled times,the ability to embrace adversity and coming out on top and being the consummate gentleman without a trace of controversy throughout his career. His career longevity should be admired as he had only his talent to bank on ( compared to others who had Godfathers or Media ). It is very easy to dismiss his achievements by linking them to cricket - but if you can learn to imbibe his qualities in any sphere of life, you would surely be a winner.

I have consciously resisted ranking or rating his innings, all of them remain wonderful memories that made us Indians believe that we can compete with the best and win ! His 281 is a folklore story and will serve as inspiration to any budding cricketer and his century in Pakistan in 2004 in the deciding ODI again talks of how he succeeds when every one failed.

I can go on and on about Laxman, but to end this article or my tribute to him, I would like to wish him all the best in his future and I hope he is at peace with himself post the emotional retirement. His place in Indian Batting Legends is assured and for me, he remains a man of magical wrists and a golden heart.

Au revoir !!!

Pavan

9 comments:

  1. In cricket history Australia is concidered to be the most toughest team .and Austrilian concider VVS Laxman is toughest player ever they have faced when he was in his best form.thats the greatness of our Own Hyderbadi Lacchigadu (Laxman).

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  2. very nicely worded.He is indeed a very rare breed of player who makes batting look so easy. the ball is never thrashed and almost apologetic even though it screeches to the boundary.His 96 againt SA at Durban in 2011 was testimony to his fighting skills as late in his career as it was before.thanks to Youtube we can still watch those gems and remember the pleasure we have been blessed with through his batting. We indians are blessed with the greatest middle order the cricket world has seen with Laxman shining brightest.

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  3. An emotional tribute from an avid cricket follower, to the legent from the Nawabland.

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  4. Srinivas DhulipalaAugust 24, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    Best word to describe Laxman is Resilience. We all need a bit of it..

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  5. Pavan, I am one of the biggest fan of VVS and RD but I am very disappointed with his timing (Not as fluent as his batting). Everyone in this world knows he is forced to retired. Right now it doesn’t make any sense what would have been the reason but I don’t believe he left the position for a youngster. If he would have thought the same then Australia series/ RD exit was the right time for his retirement. Cricketers like him (who played 134 test matches) should not get offended and take such a vague decision for some junk comments from media/selectors. If we take him as role-model then we will be retiring / quitting our jobs every day . These are the very specific reasons why Rahul Dravid is different from others. He is a perfect role-model to the youngsters in every angle. Dravid was in the same boat of VVS. In his peak form he was removed from ODI’s infact RD’s physical fitness, ability to keep the wicket, fielding is exceptionally better then VVS but he took the humiliation from selectors and played in the test matches for the country but when he got selected for England ODI’s he dint reject the offer accepted it executed it and announced his retirement from ODI. I would have preferred VVS should have taken the Physical fitness seriously and have improved on it; this is main reason 75% of his time in career he is at the edge of the seat. Look at SRT he is 2+ years elder to VVS and still fit. He is whole and sole responsible for his exit from international cricket in this manner. He dejected the fans like us to give him a standing ovation. VVS I am very sorry to write this comment but I am helpless b/c you really hurt me very bad. Being a big fan of you we respect your decision and wish you best of luck for your future.

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  6. Replies
    1. Great write-up Pavan. Really enjoyed reading this. VVS is and will stay Very Very Special.

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  7. Excellent Narration! I wish to see you writing professional sports columns. This is probably the best I've read post he announced his retirement.
    Lakshman will never retire from our hearts.
    -Sasi

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  8. Very Very Special tribute to one of the finest batsmen. VVS will always remain as one of the architects of our resurgent Indian Cricket, post his epic 281 in Eden.It was truly a turning point !!!

    - Gautam

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