Dubai: On Friday the Indian selectors will sit down to pick their Test squad for the series against New Zealand and they will be faced with a tough question: should V.V.S. Laxman, one of only two remaining members of the famous “Fab Four” of Indian cricket be selected or not?
If the decision is not in favour of Laxman, then that could well be the end of this 37-year-old wristy batsman’s spectacular career.
During his last series against Australia in January, except for a knock of 66 at Sydney, he did not play to his full potential. This man who the Australians feared, presented himself as a player not in full flow.
It’s now seven months since he has played international cricket, as he has not been considered part of India’s one-day cricket squad since 2006. Selectors believe that he belongs to the old school, where every innings is built on strong defence. His lack of agility was also cited as another reason for leaving him out of the shorter formats, despite Laxman having snapped up 135 catches in Tests and 38 in one-dayers.
Laxman once candidly said that selectors remember him only when it is a tough series or else they find all the reasons to drop him. It is a fact that, but for Laxman, India would never have had a fine wristy batsman after Mohammad Azharuddin.
One should also remember that the Australians, even at the peak of their powers, admitted that their bowlers never knew where to bowl at Laxman. So dominant and classy is he as a batsman that, even if many are lining up to step into his shoes, it is doubtful whether anyone else has his class.
This is the dilemma that the selectors will face on Friday. Whether to give him another chance or go for young blood? Some believe that Laxman may be selected on condition that he would call it a day at the end of the series.
I was lucky to witness one of Indian cricket’s spectacular chases to victory. The hero was Laxman, who cracked a classy unbeaten 73 against Australia at Mohali stadium in 2010. Though he has played many great knocks, this one is enough to show how far ahead he is among India’s top batsmen. India won that match by just one wicket.
Laxman has aged, but not lost his hunger for runs. His strokes may not be as authoritative as in the past, but he is still a classy batsman. His Test average is an impressive 45.97 and to drop such a batsman is not easy.
Laxman’s nickname is “Very Very Special” and it would be nice if he is given a special send-off rather than being dropped and forced to retire.