After recent Mohali heroics, VVS Laxman has, once again, become the apple of everyone’s eyes. Laxman being one of my all-time favorite cricket player, I posted a praising message on Facebook after the Hyderabadi batsman took India beyond the finishing line against Australia in the last Test match at Mohali. But this message was seen in the backdrop of my another similar message about Sachin Tendulkar and I was told that I was saluting the rising sun (with a connotation that I often change my standpoint!). This morning a friend of mine, Anurag Chatrath, commented on my message with a link to a blog about VVS. That made me realized that I had too much to say about VVS to be easily posted on Facebook. So, I decided to write all this here. By the way, I have not yet read the link sent by Anurag. I don’t want my writing to be influenced by another write-up. I will read Anurag’s link later.
First of all, I would like to say that Laxman is not a rising sun. On contrary, he is a setting sun! Soon he will be 36 years and it is grandpa age for a cricketer. Laxman is a sun that is and has been at his peak and will suddenly set on his retirement.
Only after it became clear that he is the nemesis of Aussies that Laxman was given a place in cricket’s pantheon, something he had actually always deserved. Before this, I remember, he was nothing but a “tuk tuk karne wala batsman” for most of the Indian cricket fans. For me, on the other hand, Laxman has been a favorite ever since I watched his first game. I love to watch him even when he is out of form. Just one single boundary from him can give enough treat to my eyes. His cover drives are most subtle and yet the fielders know that the ball wont stop before kissing the boundary rope.
Five players in Indian side I have always loved to watch. These are Mohammad Azharuddin, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar and (for reasons forgotten) Ajay Jadeja. With Azhar and Jadeja fell from grace due to match fixing scandal; the count of the graced ones came down to three. Sachin is a demi-god of cricket so there is no need to say much about him. His records speak for him and his greatness. This leaves us with Laxman and Kumble.
In general perception, both Laxman and Kumble belong to the “soft faction” of Indian cricket team. Our young generation doesn’t much appreciate their “soft” approach and “nice guy” image. Most of them love the “hot faction” —guys with short temper, aggressive manners and power-hitting style of play. This is the plain reason why Laxman and Kumble got their dues so very late.
Let’s come back to the batting style of Laxman. For me, if Sachin is the god of cricket, Laxman is most certainly the god of stylish batting. His shots are never too powerfully hit nor are they too weak so as the ball stops within the playing area. The chasers always remain in hope of catching the ball because ball travels exactly at a speed that could tempt even the heaviest of the fielders. However, as you know, they hardly ever catch the ball once it is hit by VVS and goes past them. The ball hardly leaves ground. It does not bounce at all and reaches its destination in a very “buttered” fashion.
That sums up the beauty of Laxman’s batting. And that is what makes him Very Very Special Laxman.
I am happy that Aussies fear him. I am happy that he is getting the due respect. I am happy that he is scoring runs aplenty. All this is fine —but for me Laxman is great because his batting is such an utterly butterly treat to watch. I don’t mind if he makes just 10 runs. But if these 10 runs have two boundaries —that will be enough entertainment for me.