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A toast to Very Very Special Laxman

Soutik Biswas | 16:37 UK time, Tuesday, 5 October 2010

VVS Laxman

It is time to raise a toast, again, to Vangipurappu Venkata Sai Laxman - also fondly called by his team mates and fans as Very Very Special Laxman - for wresting a stunning win from the jaws of defeat in the cricket Test against Australia at Mohali. India's slimmest ever victory, by one wicket, also reaffirmed how Test cricket remains the genuine article, the toughest contest that separates the men from the boys.


Monday's was a classic Laxman performance - the "stylist in strife" , as one commentator once called him, and match winner extraordinaire carrying off his job with customary aplomb.

He walks in with a runner, his back sore and wracked with spasms. Half his side is gone for 76 runs, chasing a target of 216 on a decaying track against a gritty, if unspectacular, Australian attack. Defiant, sinuous and brisk in his strokeplay, he keeps putting the runs on the board, losing partners quickly before he finds an unusually responsible batsman in bowler Ishant Sharma. He stays unbeaten with 73 and takes India over the line. And when one of the most closely fought games in Test cricket ends, he walks back with a big, disarming smile, as he often does after fetching India an impossible victory. It is no big deal.

Laxman belongs to what is popularly called the Fab Four of Indian cricket. If the genius of Sachin Tendulkar is its Paul McCartney, the iconoclasm and flamboyance of - the now retired - Saurav Ganguly its John Lennon. If the maestro of the backbeat, Rahul Dravid, is its Ringo Starr, then VVS must be its George Harrison, weaving some wondrous and beautiful innings that have held together some of India's best performances and his own.

Laxman is a cricketer's cricketer in many ways, and one of the greatest ever. Remember, he has an exalted place on Wisden's Top Ten batting performances of all time for his epic 281 against Australia in 2001, an innings of Cecil DeMille proportions against the strongest side in the world in the most adverse of circumstances. In that list, he is in the company of people like Donald Bradman and Brian Lara.

At his sublime best, says my friend and cricket journalist Sambit Bal, Laxman is a sight for gods. He is the sultan of silken stroke-play, a wristy batsman like no other. With VVS in full flow, the game reaches its glorious apogee. His performances move the severest commentators to poetry - a delirious Peter Roebuck once described a Laxman double hundred - against Australia, who else? - as a "glass of beer taken as the sun set across a pleasing landscape". In an age of fast-food cricket, Laxman is an elegant anachronism. A very very special one.

Comments

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  • 1. At 6:34pm on 05 Oct 2010, K wrote:

    This is one of the most beautiful pieces on Laxman the Great. I really liked the Fab four thing, and thanks for giving a thought to my hero Sourav Ganguly too!

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  • 2. At 7:14pm on 05 Oct 2010, Rahul wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 3. At 9:43pm on 05 Oct 2010, shya40 wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 4. At 11:12pm on 05 Oct 2010, dbhatta wrote:

    Mr. RahulC,
    It is not unpatriotic to point out the nation's wrongs, and it is because one loves one's nation that he or she criticizes it - so that we may all contribute to its growth. Praising the nation when it is due is not the privilege of flag waving "nationalists", and nor is voicing constructive criticism a sign of unpatriotic feelings. That people have been forcefully removed from the slums to make Delhi look great to foreigners is a shame, since India has been free for more than 60 years, and poverty causing the existence of slums could have been removed if the politicians running the country had half the dishonesty that they have shown.
    That said, we are all very proud of Laxman, and all our heritage, which goes back more than 2500 years. So we, who criticize, have equal right to celebrate the good and debunk the bad.

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  • 5. At 10:20am on 06 Oct 2010, BakedBeans wrote:

    could you please write one artilce without refering to friends and families

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  • 6. At 4:00pm on 06 Oct 2010, choose wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 7. At 4:37pm on 06 Oct 2010, Rohit wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 8. At 5:29pm on 06 Oct 2010, nayantaramajumdar wrote:

    Thanks Mr.Biswas for a lovely read- hail indian cricket:)

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  • 9. At 9:08pm on 06 Oct 2010, promodsharma wrote:

    So Mr. Biswas a great article on the British game of Cricket. Why not also mention:

    1) Huts outside the Mohali Cricket Stadium.
    2) A poor nation like India could have spent the money on feeding the poor.
    3) You also compare the Indian Cricket stars to other stars,(Cecil DeMille, Donald Bradman, Brian Lara etc.) dont you think that the Indian cricket stars have a personality of their own, without demeaning them by comparing them to others.

    I am really surprised you did not find anything to deride in this article. Come on Biswas, we miss your usual sinuous wimpy articles with a pukka sahib slant ( more sahib than the sahib).

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  • 10. At 07:50am on 07 Oct 2010, Rohit wrote:

    No wonder the seats are empty at the CWG.

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  • 11. At 2:34pm on 07 Oct 2010, Eric wrote:

    "....the toughest contest that separates the men from the boys."
    - did I miss something? This has got to be some sort of dim witted joke. And what more, a description worthy of a Greek god. Seriously? I will thank you for not dishing out the accolades as though they were paltry and easy to come by.

    When are we as a nation going to begin patronizing other sports? With over a billion people we shouldn't be hurting for talent. But then again, to each man his own!

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  • 12. At 9:26pm on 07 Oct 2010, promodsharma wrote:

    ....a delirious me once described your articles on - BBC.com, who else will host your poorly written, lop sided articles? - as a "glass of stale beer taken at the some sodden half lit pub across a back street in downtown London". In an age of RSS feeds & internet, you are an elegant anachronism of the british rule in India. A very very rare one.....

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