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‘Very, Very Special’ Laxman retires

India’s elegant batsman bids emotional goodbye to internationals

Image Credit: AFP
Vangipurappu Venkat Sai Laxman (right), wife Sailaja and their children Sarvajith andAchinthya attend a press conference to announce his retirement in Hyderabad on Saturday.
Gulf News

Dubai: V.V.S. Laxman, Indian cricket’s wristy delight, has called it a day.

It is the end for the third of India’s “Fab Four” of batsmen who lifted the country to the top of the Test match world rankings. Only Sachin Tendulkar now remains following the earlier retirements of Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly.

No Indian cricketer since Mohammad Azharrudin has enthralled fans with such spectacular wristy stroke play as Laxman. He lived up to his nickname, “Very Very Special”, in almost all his knocks.

It was Laxman who shook the edifice of Australian cricket’s glory years and helped India clinch top spot in the world rankings. Despite his batting talent, he often had to struggle for his place in the squad as selectors cited his average fielding skills to sideline him and picked him only against tough opponents.

C.S. Sudhaker, the UAE national team’s physiotherapist, who was present in Hyderabad for Laxman’s announcement yesterday, told Gulf News: “It is the end of a classy batsman who could tackle the toughest of bowling with the minimum of effort. It is sad to see him go as we all in Hyderabad have seen him grow from a young promising player to a world-class batsman.”

Laxman became emotional as he announced his retirement with immediate effect ahead of the home Test series against New Zealand starting on August 23 in Hyderabad.

“I would like to announce my retirement from international cricket with immediate effect,” said Laxman, who will turn 38 on November 1. “I have always kept my country’s success and need ahead of my personal aspirations. And while I would love to continue contributing to the team’s success, especially against England and Australia, I think this is the right time to give opportunity to the youngsters in home conditions ahead of international assignments.”

However, Laxman also added that he will continue to play for his domestic team in this year’s Ranji Trophy.

“It was a tough decision to take. I have always listened to my inner conscience. I have always done what is right throughout my career. There was a lot of debate in the last four days. I felt this is the right time to move on,” added Laxman, who played in 134 Tests, scored 8,781 runs at an impressive average of 45.97.

Laxman’s spectacular knocks against Australia of 281 at Eden Gardens in Kolkata in 2001 and 167 in Sydney will live long in sporting memory as being among the best knocks by an Indian cricketer. Video clips from these knocks are often shown to teach youngsters how to dominate a top-class bowling attack without succumbing to pressure.

N. Srinivasan, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), said: “Not many batsmen made batting look as easy as V.V.S. Laxman. He was an exceptional cricketer, who excelled in pressure situations.

“If a cricketer’s greatness is to be measured in terms of his performances against the best opposition of his time, then Laxman stands right at the top. His record against Australia, the world’s No. 1 team for the better part of his career, speaks for itself. Indian cricket-lovers, and the game of cricket itself, will miss him for the elegance and grace that he epitomised, on and off the field.”