For sixteen long years VVS Laxman represented a country for whom Sachin was – still is- God, Dravid its wall, Ganguly the Dada, and Sehwag, the “butcher of Najafgarh.”
But these weren’t the only awe-inspiring personalities or nicknames India had. Kumble’s performances (not just the tenner) were much like the nickname he was anointed: jumbo. Moreover, there was the off spin ace Harbhajan Singh, known as much for his enthusiasm for the sport as for his nickname, even if it didn’t specifically point to an attribute.
Unless you were referring to Poori Bhaji, you couldn’t really stomach Bhajji, the name that perhaps sounds closest in pronunciation to one of India’s most savoured meals.
Was there a special connotation to the nickname or was it a shortest route to address the man tall much like his wickets tally and name, it’s anyone’s call.
But there’s something that presents little doubt about the team back then.
And it’s that VVS Laxman never really needed a nickname, hence never had it. Not that he ever asked for it and not that cricketers request fans for it!
In fact, on the contrary, we fell so in love with VVS Laxman that instead of pinning him to some shorter name, we expanded his to a bigger one.
Very very special!
For that is what VVS Laxman truly was, and is: very very special.
Whether it’s the 281 not out against Australia in Kolkata during 2001, an exhibition of timeless batting, or the 167 at Sydney in 1999, VVS Laxman soldiered on for India, seldom seeking anything in return.
So good was Laxman as batsman that we couldn’t believe that in the post Gundappa Viswanath and Mohd. Azharuddin era, there’d come another titan of suave whose wristiness would inspire poetic tributes.
Which is why it may not seem entirely absurd to suggest that most of his 11,119 runs weren’t bludgeoned nor had anything to do with brute force; they were carved with a finesse that would inspire envy from some of the world’s best craftsmen.
Yet, in doing all of that, the artist who swayed performed some of his stoic feats from positions one would never have imagined Laxman in.
For instance, his 167 against a Lee, McGrath, Warne and Fleming-powered attack came as the opener.
And now, here he is; back as the coach of the team bound for Zimbabwe as India’s widely-loved Wall has been given a break for the Zimbabwe assignment.
One reckons this is, in some ways, the best thing that could’ve happened to VVS Laxman for the simplest of reasons that not in the recent past has this colossus of Indian Test cricket been given his share of importance.
It’s something he richly deserves. It’s something that is often bandaged around with the sparkly ‘legend’ tag to perhaps lesser mortals, albeit those that catch our fancy, if not necessarily the eye for reasoning.
In an age that sided with conservatism, where protecting one’s wicket was perhaps more important than engaging in wham-bam style of hitting, Laxman stood up for India time and again.
And he did so with a clarity of intent and selflessness, much like his close-friend Dravid, who he replaces, as a matter of fact, not for the first time.
The coaching role isn’t a brand new development for the famous batsman from Hyderabad.
The following excerpt was taken from a recent report published on Zee News India
Laxman acted as the head coach during India’s tour of Ireland in Dravid’s absence followed by one T20I match against England in Southampton and was flanked by Bahutle and Sitanshu Kotak. This will be Kanitkar’s first international assignment in a coaching capacity with the senior team but he has a wealth of experience as he was the head coach of the U19 World Cup-winning Indian team earlier this year. India will play three ODIs between 18 to 22 August against Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club, which will be part of the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League.
RapidLeaks wishes the entire Indian squad and the newly-elected replacement coach VVS Laxman for the ODI series the very best of luck.