V.V.S. Laxman: The Perfect Gentleman

If the Olympics were stealing the spotlight until now, cricket surely covered up for the lack of attention in the recent months with the news of the retirement of V.V.S. Laxman, one of India’s most seasoned cricketers.

Laxman announced his retirement on Saturday, 18th August in a press conference in his hometown, Hyderabad. Though his retirement was on the cards for quite some time, it was a surprise to all when he decided to end his career “with immediate effect” since everyone expected him to declare his retirement after the upcoming test series against New Zealand this week in Hyderabad.

It is indeed strange that though we all know that our favourite idols have to retire one day, when that day finally arrives, we are in a state of denial and wish we could see more of that legend.

Yes, we wanted more of the marvel that was Vangipurrappu Venkata Sai Laxman. We wanted to see him at least one last time in his final match against New Zealand, playing for his home crowd in Hyderabad, paying him a fitting farewell.

But, in the end, it doesn’t matter whether the ace batsman would have played a match or two more. We will always remember him for his magic on the pitch; his calm and cool even in the most stressful moments. He was the knight in, well, padded armour for the Indian cricket team many times, when he rescued the nation from shameful defeats with miraculous batting skills, and as if glided the team towards victory. He made byzantine swings appear almost effortless.

His best was against Australia in 2001 at Kolkata’s Eden gardens where he scored an awesome 281 runs in the second innings, which was the best Indian Test record score until it was broken by Virender Sehwag in March 2004 against Pakistan.

He will always be remembered as the true gentleman in a gentleman’s game. Everyone, from his colleagues and team mates, to other sportspersons, to the crowd and die-hard fans, attests that he is the most gracious person on the field and off it; the finest human being, a parallel for which is hard to find in today’s world marred with corruption and lack of morals, ethics and principles.

Yet, his abrupt decision to retire just before the forthcoming test series, even after he was selected to play in both matches has left the selectors on the spot, red-faced. He retired mentioning that young players should also be given a chance, however, his absence along with (Rahul) Dravid’s completely disrupts the batting order of the team, with no veteran left in the ranks except Sachin Tendulkar. This puts pressure on both- the new board of selectors, and the onus falls on young players to become the pillars of the team.

Laxman has played for an enviable 16 years, representing India in the international realm in 134 tests, scoring 17 centuries in his test career with a remarkable 8,781 runs.

India now has to say adieu to one of the most elegant and graceful cricketers ever; we can only hope to see him in the Ranji trophies and Twenty-20 format. He has been an inspiration for so many budding cricketers and fans alike, impressing one and all with his composure, skills and intuitive ability.

Abhiruchi Chatterjee

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