Nothing ‘Lax’ about this ‘man’
October 7, 2010 Leave a comment
There are 3 ways to counter adversaries in the game of cricket. Either you can run away as Ganguly is alleged to have done spotting a green pitch ; Or you can be loud-mouthed like a Harbhajan Singh, who is yet to prove his credentials outside sub-continent ; Or
You can be Vangipurappu Venkata Sai Laxman.
Graceful, Stylish and almost atrocious in his strokeplay, there are very few parallels to Laxman in terms of quality of his batsmanship. Only four, in my very humble view, can match Laxman – Mark Edward Waugh, Martin Crowe, Mohd Azaruddin and David Gower come to my mind.
The profile in the popular cricket website, Cricinfo, does good justice to Laxman. The profile reads, paraphrasing, Laxman can at his best match Tendulkar shot for shot and sometimes even better him.
Laxman hides his steely resolve behind his laid-back, almost disinterested look on the cricketing field. Though he did shout down Pragyan Ojha, he is not a man who displays his emotions. But he has proved the cliché of letting his bat do the talking, much to consternation of the Aussies I presume.
What makes Laxman so special ? I think of 3 factors
- The Tendulkar Factor : The constant talk about ‘Get tendulkar get India’, however unfounded, has certainly taken pressure of the likes of Laxman, Dravid and Sehwag. Though Laxman may never catch up with Sachin in runs or hundreds, in terms of his utility to the team, I would say that he is on par with Tendulkar and sometimes even better. With Sachin taking away all the attention, it is easier for Laxman to focus on his game.
- The Dravid Factor : Laxman needs someone who can buckle down at the other end and complement his game. He needs “intellectual company” at the other end and not flamboyance. It explains why Laxman has never managed to score big in the company of Tendulkar let alone Sehwag.
- Befriending the adversary : Most Indian batsmen, let’s just admit fear pace and bounce. Even the great Tendulkar cannot counter attack pace (if you forget him tearing into Henry Olonga on a dead Sharjah wicket) but is quite sedate. Sehwag doesn’t bother whether it is pace or spin ; Gambhir, Raina, Yuvraj are not too confident against pace ; Ganguly fears pace, despite his fighting 100 at the ‘Gabba circa 2003. Only 2 batsmen of our times, Dravid and Laxman have “embraced” pace. The more they took on, the better they got.
India is lucky to have the quintet of batsmen serving them at the same time. Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman and Ganguly are among the finest batsmen of our era.
In terms of audacity, there is none to match Sehwag but in sheer aesthetics, there is none better than the Hyderabadi.
It is a shame that Laxman is nearing his retirement. Even if he doesn’t score a run more from here on, I think he has done enough to be the most scintillating piece in the crown of Indian batsmanship.