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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cricket: VVS Laxman Announces His Retirement!


He has been fondly called Very Very Special by cricket lovers and experts in India. Indeed, he has given Very Very Special moments to Indian cricket over the sixteen years of his superb innings. He could be called the crisis manager for Team India always rescuing the team from tight situations and with Rahul Dravid virtually forming the disaster management cell—saving hopeless matches and winning matches from hopeless situations. They excelled both in home and away conditions.
Vangipurapu Venkata Sai (VVS) Laxman announced his retirement from international cricket this afternoon at a press conference in his home city of Hyderabad. His retirement was expected ever since his listless performance in India’s disastrous tours of Australia-2011-12 and before that the tour of England-2011. Particularly when Rahul Dravid decided to call it a day Laxman’s retirement seemed imminent. But the legendary player kept on perhaps for the last memorable innings of his life during the packed domestic season-2012-13.
VVS Laxman stuck to his practice and training schedules at home despite not playing any international match since January, 2012. And, in fact, he was selected for the India-New Zealand cricket series starting on coming 23rd August with the first Test to be played in Laxman’s home ground in Hyderabad. His fans were geared up to see him maybe in one last home appearance. But today, the Very Very Special cricketer shocked everyone by announcing his retirement with immediate effect.
Reports and speculation suggest that the Indian cricket selectors told him specifically to play his last two Tests against New Zealand and then retire. The great cricketer known for his slick and elegant leg cuts perhaps could not handle this cruel googly. He has always been the perfect gentleman in the gentleman’s game of cricket and never had any problem or dispute with anyone in his career spanning 16 years. The only time he expressed his disappointment was when he was not selected for the World Cup-2003 despite the fact that Laxman was playing the limited over games with much more dexterity during those years only. Now, true to his nature, Laxman candidly informed the media that he wanted to make way for younger players to be groomed in this long domestic season, and no hint whatsoever about possible pressure or compulsions.
In a career marked with highs and lows Laxman played exceptionally well against Australia scoring six of his seventeen hundreds in Test Cricket. His majestic innings of 281 in the Kolkata Test in 2001 against Australia remains a landmark even now. After being forced to follow on India went on to win that Test thanks to the VVS man who crafted an incredible partnership with Rahul Dravid. He had been a dedicated player in the truest form of the game—Test cricket, and maybe that is why could not adjust adequately to the shorter forms to excel. Thanks to his class he started as an icon in the shortest form called the Indian Premiere League that unfolded in 2007, but in its fifth version this year there were no buyers for him.
Fans and cricket lovers are going to miss him sorely. The Big Four of Indian batting is now reduced to just one with Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman gone and only Sachin Tendulkar sticking on. But hopefully the void will be filled with exciting young players like Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina and a few other promising batsmen.
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