Very Very Special Laxman is a conjuror in very sense of the word. He embellishes the art of wielding the willow to its apex much like his Mentor Azharuddin who enthralled us in the 80s and 90s. He makes batting look as easy as plucking flowers in a garden. The world’s best team frets whence he steps on to the field padded up and often looks at the sky almost praying in hope. Any connoisseur of batting would travel miles to witness his sublimity and aplomb.
This is the same VVS Laxman who was accused earlier of being so careless about his stint at the crease that pundits of the game opined that he would cross 30 once in ten innings. And today we have arguably the world’s fastest bowler in Brett Lee pronouncing him as the prized wicket that every Aussie bowler is after. What prompted this transformation in this seemingly insouciant willow wielder from Hyderabad? His moment of truth came on the 3rd day of the Eden Gardens Test Vs Australia when the Indian team had their backs to the wall and were in danger of losing their much-acclaimed status of Invincible at Home. We all know what happened then but for me it was a knock that dug out Indian Cricket out of its coffin just before the last nail was about to be driven in. I say this because of the hysteria surrounding Indian Cricket just before the series with the Match Fixing and betting allegations. Aficionados of the game felt hurt to say the least and hoped for those allegations to be untrue. The loss in the first test at Mumbai prompted a lot fans to say now we know the real truth. But the story after that knock from Laxman was quite different. It came like forlorn hope to a lot of us who still believed that cricket was played in all earnestness.
Laxman, after that knock did not live up to the expectations of his country men getting out to innocuous deliveries as a result of his reckless swishes outside the off stump. It’s no gainsaying that the success and the adulation had got into his head and he didn’t seem to value his wicket anymore.
The tours to England and West Indies were his true potential turned into action. He began valuing his wicket a lot more than his previous outings. There seemed to be difference in his whole approach to batting. Concentration and occupation of the crease seemed to his newfound mantra. Slowly but surely the hurried 30s started turning into steady 60s or even majestic 100s. Laxman had definitely picked up the gauntlet and had re emerged as India’s mainstay in the batting department.
Not being picked for the World Cup in 2003 was an obvious disappointment. But in hindsight, it worked well for him. He came back to the side stronger than ever before with a marked improvement in his fitness and agility on the field, which seemed to be his shortcomings earlier resulting in him not being selected in the One Dayers (Although he still has a lot of scope to improve in these, running between the wickets included). On the tour Down Under, against his favourite opposition he made pay as usual and so much so that Ponting ranted How the hell in the world do we get this guy out?? Laxman had made an indelible mark in world cricket.
Although his old lax nature crops up once a while Laxman nowadays is a lot more assured and resolute than his earlier days in international cricket .A lot more magic is yet to come from this man from Hyderabad.