VVS Laxman Biography
Watching VVS Laxman bat alongside the likes of Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni was like watching a Rock concert one moment and Beethoven the next. Laxman brought gentleness to his craft; he caressed the ball with velvety wrists that mocked field settings. VVS was a puritan, yet he could be audacious. If Viv Richards bludgeoned balls pitched outside the off stump by imperiously orbiting them over midwicket, VVS used his supple wrists to coax the ball to along the greens in a wide arc between long-leg and long-on.
If Mariah Carey could get her legs insured for $1 billion and Jennifer Lopez insured her posterior for $300 million, then Laxman’s magical wrists was definitely worth a few million dollars. The wrists that created a surreal experience at the batting crease seemed like heirloom, handed over to him by another Hyderabadi artist, Mohammad Azharuddin, almost equally brilliant but certainly not up to his successor’s standards.
Unlike his more glamorous contemporaries, there was never a special sobriquet to anoint Laxman. That was perhaps the tragedy of his cricketing career. If not better, Laxman was as good as Dravid playing under pressure — a master in crisis management. And the tour de force of his career was his 281 against Australia at Kolkata in 2001 when his jugalbandi with Dravid helped India win by 171 runs after following 274 behind.
It’s no secret that the mighty Australians under Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting feared Laxman more than Tendulkar. That is saying a lot. Laxman had also launched a furious onslaught against the same opposition at SCG a year before the 281, scoring 167 out of a team score of 261; and scored an outrageous 32 at Bloemfontein that John Wright called the best thirty he had seen.
Between 2000 and 2011, Laxman remained extremely consistent, but one poor series in Australia in 2011-12 saw critics baying for his blood. He was selected for the two-Test home series against New Zealand when he called it a day and bypassed the opportunity to say farewell in front his hometown fans in Hyderabad — no doubt saddened by the mounting criticism against his selection.
How will the cricketing world remember Laxman? As Very Very Special, to borrow a quote from Ian Chappell.