‘Very Very Special’ Laxman calls it a day, says right time to give opportunity to youngsters

VVS LaxmanSo VVS Laxman called it a day on Saturday. Everyone knew that writing was on the wall, but the timing chosen by the classy Hyderabadi batsman must have taken all on back-foot. The announcement didn’t come as a surprise, though the cricket fans, officials and even his team-mates must be wondering about the decision, which for most of them would have come after the New Zealand series or at least after the first Test, which was scheduled to be in his home ground in Hyderabad.

“I would like to announce my retirement from international cricket with immediate effect. I think it is the right time to move on. I have always kept my country’s success and need ahead self. I think this is the right time to give opportunity to the youngsters in home conditions ahead of international assignments,” Laxman said at a press conference.

What must have prompted the decision is the consistent criticism that Laxman have been getting off late. He had been in the line of fire after Team India’s debacle in England and Australia and there were voices emanating from all quarters, which pointed fingers on his form and his growing age. While Rahul Dravid retired few months ago after widespread criticism, it looked like Laxman would soon follow the suit. But then nothing came from Laxman’s end and it looked as if he would carry on for a year or so until criticism started doing rounds again ahead of the home series against the Kiwis.

“There have been people who have criticised me but I had more well-wishers. I can tell you that it is not easy to please each and every person. Failure and success are part and parcel of a cricketer’s life,” he explained, adding that he always kept his country ahead of self.

“I have always kept my country’s success and need ahead self. And while I would love contributing to the team’s success, especially against England and Australia, I think this is the right to give opportunity to the youngsters in home conditions ahead of international assignments,” he said after announcing his retirement, adding that it was a dream for him to play along with batting legends of India.

“It was a dream for me to play for India since childhood and I am extremely thankful to the Almighty for giving me the opportunity to serve my country,” added the Hyderabadi.

Laxman along with Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar formed the ‘Fab Four’ of Indian Team and these stalwarts played an important role in taking India to the pinnacle of Test cricket. Ganguly and Dravid are long gone now and with Laxman’s retirement, things do not look good for Team India as of now.

Laxman, who made his debut in 1996 against South Africa in Ahmadabad, has played 134 Tests scoring 8781 runs, including 17 centuries and 56 fifties. He has been less prominent in the limited overs circuit and played only 86 ODIs scoring 2338 runs with six hundreds.

And now after 16 years of service to the country he finally decided to draw curtains on his illustrious career. Well, all good things do come to an end but then the way it came to him, is saddening. For a man who has played such an important part in taking Indian cricket where it is now, is forced to retire following criticisms, is really uncalled for.

But now as it is almost certain that Laxman would bid adieu to the game, what will bother the Indian selectors is to find a replacement for him. Selectors are already scratching their heads over finding a suitable replacement for Dravid and now they have one more job in hand.

Laxman has been the one of the few players who can thrive very well under pressure and has been one of the best batsmen in the fourth innings. He has rescued India from dire straits on many occasions and also helped the team script many famous wins. It will very difficult for the youngsters to emulate the benchmark that he has set and things might go smoothly till the team in playing in the sub-continent, but then once they travel abroad, they will feel his absence.

It was not only the Dravid, Laxman and Sachin who failed in England and Australia but then the whole Indian batting line didn’t come up to the expectations. It was one of the rare occasions where these stalwarts failed but then these two tours showed that Indian youngsters are not in the position yet to fill into their huge shoes. With Dravid gone, Laxman should have been left by the critics to leave on his own terms. The critics somehow forgot his class and contribution to India cricket.

With the likes of Cheteswar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma in the queue to replace Dravid and Laxman in the side, their absence from the team will be realised only once Team India start playing in the sub-continent.

On being asked whether he would regret the decision later, he said, “I never regret the decisions I take. I am satisfied with the decision. Definitely I will never regret that I took the decision.”

The 37-year-old Laxman, who been one of the mainstays for Indian batting lineup for Test cricket made his test debut in 1996 and since then has played 134 tests and scored 8781 runs including 17 centuries and 56 fifties. He has also played 86 ODIs scoring 2338 runs with six hundreds.

Laxman who will be remembered for his epic innings of 281 against Australia in 2001 at Eden Gardens and earned the sobriquet ‘Very Very Special’ said that the decision was a very hard one but then felt it was the right time to hang his boot and allow the youngsters to come into the team.

Laxman however conceded that he will continue playing for Hyderabad and is still undecided on his post retirement life.

By Indian Sports News Network