Counted among the world’s most graceful players of cricket, Vangipurapu Venkata Sai Laxman in his 16 years of international cricketing career has given quite a few legendary knocks, and stood as an iconic inspiration for many budding cricketers. Post his retirement, VVS, as he is fondly known as, says he never misses not playing cricket. “The first one week after retirement is tough as it does affect you that you are not out on the ground. But, yes, I am happy about my retirment. My career has been the most interesting phase of my life and has also been a great experience,” he said.
Speaking to media at the launch of “Talking Cricket”, a book at Landmark in Somajiguda on Friday evening, Laxman spoke at length about what cricket meant to him. VVS Laxman’s interview has been featured as part of the book, Talking Cricket, a compilation of 22 theme-based interviews with some of the best known names in the game. Published by Disney UTV, this 292-page book brings together wisdom, insights, anecdotes and humour from celebrated figures from in cricket, that provides fans with a deeper appreciation of the game.
Renowned cricket commentators Harsha Bhogle and Sanjay Manjrekar and ESPN Cricinfo editor Sambit Bal were present at the event -- a conversation between the three main facets of the game, the game, commentary and the media.
Retired and happy
When asked about his sudden decision about retirement, Laxman explained, “I am happy with the decision I made. I always believe that team comes first and then one’s own personal aspirations. I felt it was the right time to move on. The decision did not happen overnight, and I felt it was the best for me and the team.” The news of his retirment did create a lot of controversy, citing many rumours about his friction with the captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. “The dinner hosted, became a national event. There were so many people, talking about so many things. But, then the day I decided, I had a good feeling about this,” he mentioned.
He is noted for playing the best against spin bowlers. But, a lesser known fact is also that Laxman struggled to play against spin bowlers at the start of his career. “As a kid, I enjoyed playing against fast bowling and neglected spinners. But, once I started playing at Ranjhi, that was when I started practising against spin bowlers and then got a hang of it. And this was when I learnt that the amount of hardwork one puts in the nets will show in the game.”
Tryst with T20
Though he is a master of Test cricket and ODIs, Laxman did struggle to find his feet in T20. “When it came to this form of cricket, the speed of the bat increased and it took me time to adapt to it. Though a part of the Hyderabad IPL franchise for over three years, there were not many games that I played. And the kind of mix of players every team had, like Adam Gilchrist and Hershelle Gibbs in Deccan Chargers back then, my batting order kept changing. My batting style is usually up the order,” he explained. Disagreeing with the notion that T20 players do not require much of cricketing skills, he said, “Whenever I see AB de Villiers playing a reverse sweep above the third man, I am just amazed at the kind of skill these players have.”
Changing times of cricket
“Young cricketers and debutants now get more recognition as they are not mere players now, they are a personality. It is a challenge for modern cricketers as they are always under scrutiny by the media and people. So, yes when compared to back in 90s, the scene is evolving at a high pace.”
Sachin and Sehwag
The best thing about cricket according to Laxman is in the pride for playing for one’s country. “Sachin is one such great example. He has been performing so well for all these years because of the pride he takes in representing his country. And, money is the by-product for playing for the country,” he said.
When asked about how Sehwag’s batting style that goes beyong technique, he said, “It is very difficult to be like Sehwag. The way he hits the ball, sometimes it looks unreal. He keeps it simple and focuses on the ball and not the bowler.”
What lies ahead
Apart from a book that he has started writing about his cricketing career, Laxman is now the mentor for Hyderabad’s IPL franchise Hyderabad Sunrisers.