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The Quiet One – VVS Laxman

The Quiet One - VVS Laxman

He looks like one of those purists. One of those who were born to play Test cricket and only test cricket. In an era of brash,young aggressive Indian cricketers like Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and Sreesanth, it is a calming influence to know that you have someone like VVS in your team. It comes as little surprise that both his parents are doctors! There was no “Hyderabad bandh” when Laxman was dropped from the world cup squad in 2003 in favor of Dinesh Mongia and nor did Laxman make a fuss of it. He quietly went about doing his job. Doing what he does best and that was scoring runs.

I wanted to write about the least celebrated batsman of the Indian Fab Four, VVS Laxman. M.S.Dhoni does not really believe in the tag “Fab Four”. Does he? But we certainly do. Dravid is the “wall”, Tendulkar is the “God”, Saurav is “dada”, the man who is considered by many who reshaped and revitalized the Indian team. But what about Laxman? It’s just as well that this laid back man from Hyderabad does not have a nickname (Very Very Special hardly counts. That is how he has gone about doing his job for the Indian team over the last decade, quietly and unnoticed.

If ever there was a question, Laxman?, the answer would be………………………….. 281. There is no doubting the fact that the epic 281 scored by Laxman at Kolkata was his best innings. Hell, it’s probably the best innings of the last two decades, never mind his best innings. But his immense contributions in the middle order have been often but forgotten. For starters, he has batted most of his career at number six, a position which not many batsman would raise their hands for. And except for the last two years, where he has had Dhoni to follow him, he has had the unenviable task of batting most of his career with tail-enders.

Let us go all the way back to 1996, to his debut Test match. When Laxman comes out to bat in the second innings of the Ahmedabad test, India are effectively 61/4. Laxman walks in and he is soon left with the tail as Dravid departs immediately. VVS makes 51, which was the highest Indian score of the match. Laxman is the eigth batsman to get out as India is bowled out for 190. His 51 turns out to be a match winning effort as South Africa are bowled out for 105 in the fourth innings.

Laxman’s TWO-EIGHT-ONE is etched in everyone’s mind. But, not many remember his twin fifties in the final test of that series in Chennai. Laxman followed his 65 in the first innings with 66 in the second, in a total of 155 for 8 when India managed to beat Australia by two wickets. The next highest score in that innings was 25 by S.Ramesh.

Against South Africa in 2001 at Port Elizabeth, SA have batted first and scored 362. Laxman walks in at 47/4 and is the ninth man out as he runs out of partners after scoring 89. This innings was instrumental in India saving the test match.

Against West Indies Vs India, at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain. India bat first. Sachin scores a 100. Laxman, who is left with the tail, scores 69 not out as India finish with 339. In the second innings of the same test he scores 74 out of a total of 218, as India go on to win their first overseas test victory for 18 years.

Against Australia in Mumbai, Laxman makes the highest score of the test match (69) on a minefield at the Wankhede. India makes 205 and bowl Australia for 93 to win by 13 runs.

The list can go on. Its unbelievable, the number of times he has had to bat with the tail (a weak Indian tail) and the number of times he has done it successfully. On numerous occasions he has had to shepherd the strike, avoid singles in order to shield the tail, and take risks in order to score quick runs. Also, on numerous occasions, Laxman has scored 50’s and 60’s in extremely tough batting conditions which have turned out to be match-winning efforts or match-saving efforts.

How many of us know that in the last 3 years, Laxman has been the 5th best test batsman with an average of almost 60 per inning. His average during this period has been more than the likes of Ponting, Dravid, Kallis, and “god” himself. (Sachin’s avg is 59.12 and Laxman’s avg has been 59.42). During this period Sachin scored twelve centuries and eleven fifties while VVS has scored only five centuries and sixteen fifties.

This can be looked at in two ways:

1) Laxman does not kick on to score big hundreds after getting starts.
2) Laxman is very very consistent and reliable.
The reason I favor point number 2 here is that, by the time Laxman reaches 50, invariably India is 7 or 8 down. He is either stranded or he gets out trying to score quick runs for his team.

It is sad that test cricket is dying, especially in a cricket-crazy country like India. No doubting the talent of Sreesanth, Kohli and Yuvraj. But, you would not want kids to look up to these cricketers as role-models. With the demise of test cricket, I am afraid the endangered species of cricket like VVS Laxman will become extinct and the tag of cricket being a “Gentleman’s game” will also be taken away.


Nice article and very well written. Good to see someone appreciate a true player.

Comment by Peter | 12:00am GMT 22 March 2010

I think whatever has been mentioned in the above article is true. but I would also like to add that Dravid also has the same fate. Both Dravid and Laxman are most under-estimated player.

Comment by rock | 12:00am GMT 22 March 2010

Very true. Some extent politics were also played with Laxman.If he had batted at number 3, he could have had more centuries and India could have had more test wins.

BCCI also not given him with due recognition. His one-day contribution was good until he was dropped. Other players have been give more chances to prove in one-day, and then he was given. Last but not least BCCI even ignored and a junior player was pushed for Padma shree before Laxman.

Comment by nagendra | 12:00am GMT 22 March 2010

Nice article…

I am a big fan of Laxman. It is very frustrating to see VVS is dropped from ODIs and not being selected for World Cup. He did many things for cricket, all big players like Sachin, Dada, Darvid, Kumble and more have represented India in WC, but VVS did not. He was being ignored and BCCI should review this matter and they should select him for next world cup which is going to be last cup for his career. I pray God to save him Indian cricket board politics.

VVS you should change your style.. please be agreessive and fight for your position otherwise you will not be cared by anyone.. good luck

Comment by Krishna | 12:00am GMT 22 March 2010

Super….Nice article..We need many more like these..

Comment by Hari | 12:00am GMT 23 March 2010

VVS the forgotten hero revisited….well written….how do u collect all these facts man? gr8 work!!

Comment by Nirav | 12:00am GMT 23 March 2010

Stupendous. Comely. Eclectic. Pristine.

Way to go mate !! 🙂

Comment by Yaju Arya | 12:00am GMT 23 March 2010

Yaju Arya…..name indian…..talk aussie..’mate’?…… lax is pristine!! …..agree

nirav!…… the encourager!……get stats from here….

that definitely was one of the most frustrating moments…..to watch dinesh mongia being selected ahead of vvs for the EC 2003

Comment by Giri | 12:00am GMT 23 March 2010

It does tend to lead to lots of utterly stupid counter-claims and counter-claims and counter-claims and counter-claims and counter-claims and counter-claims, so yes. Inherently there’s not a lot wrong with it, but with the inevitability of the outcome it’d be so much easier if no-one ever did.

Comment by Richard | 12:00am GMT 23 March 2010

Laxman averages 44.57 in matches against McGrath which is pretty good, certainly not ‘owned’ though.

Comment by Ikki | 12:00am GMT 23 March 2010

Five dismissals in ten games isn’t exactly being owned. Remember that’s his average score on dismissal, not the runs per dismissal he scored against McGrath.

Comment by Uppercut | 12:00am GMT 23 March 2010

I agree and have to disagree with jeevan on this one. Laxman indeed “owned” Australian attack (comprising McGrath and Warne for good measure) in the epic 2001 series. But was “owned” by them in the 1999-00 series (except for the brilliant Sydney hundred) and in 2004. Pretty much even stevens there.

Comment by Sir Alex | 12:00am GMT 23 March 2010

Yes exclude all good performances of Laxman and then obviously he was owned.

Comment by Sanz | 12:00am GMT 23 March 2010

You can own someone for one ball, one over, one inning, one test match or one series – that’s not what I am talking about. My conclusion was for overall. Rarely are contests very one sided – if it were that would be ownage. Since it wasn’t, on the balance, it was fairly even.

Which means we agree, but I am clarifying for future reference.

Comment by Ikki | 12:00am GMT 23 March 2010

Love watching Laxman bat. Would walk to Perth from here to see him if it was guaranteed he’d make runs. Great player to watch.

Comment by Burgey | 12:00am GMT 23 March 2010

My bad, I had thought this meant he had scored 400 runs vs McGrath but being out to him only 5 times. (In retrospect, that would be quite a bit of work for cricinfo).

Comment by jeevan | 12:00am GMT 23 March 2010

The current young generation are good for 20-20 cricket. Laxman still would be good player for one-day’s. BCCI should consider him for One-day’s and atleast for next coming world cup.

Comment by nagendra | 12:00am GMT 24 March 2010

Gary sobers batted 7 or 6 down ,Damien martyn batted the same order too.To me these guys are unsung heroes !! But they made themselves “heard ; loud and clear ” with their “sound” and strong willows !!The world loves fast and flashy stuff always .Meteors earn more attraction than calm and steady Full moons !Rams are admired more than Laxmans !! Tho infact Laxman left his better half @ home to rue & lament the separation ; just to guard Ram and his consort,in the woods!!

Comment by Dr.G.Nadarajan,MS, | 12:00am GMT 26 March 2010

The English selector Ted Dexter says his favorite hobby is to watch Laxman bat !!!!!!!
Micheal holding once discussing about Indian batsmaen said ” Laxman is good against only Aussie pace attack “– rubbish ! Hope he changed his mind now !There was once an incident where Laxman played a spinner with the spin to the off; the next ball the same trajectory ; he played to the on ,with the dept flick of the wrist !! Fantastic show of wrist artistry !! To me Laxman is like Sobers ,Damien Martyn,Michael Beven and Gundappa viswanath — Classic display of artistic and pure technique elegantly executed !!

Comment by Dr.Guru nadarajan , MS,M.phil, | 12:00am GMT 26 March 2010

Ya VVS is special in his own classy technique !
But the world likes fast and furious than calssic and cool stuff !! How many of us have the patience for a Beethoven or a Mozart ? But we fall easily for Michael jackson or other rap music ! Right ?
Test Cricket is for the gentlemen with technique ,purity and patience ! But the present world is for the boys with audacity and animosity !! Cricket is no exception to this changing trend !!

Comment by Dr.Natarajan , Surgeon | 12:00am GMT 26 March 2010

Unfortunate !!! People like laxman did not lead India in test cricket. One would have loved to see his as captain of India in tests against Australia. Dhoni would have waited. Is’nt it ?

Comment by Girish | 12:00am GMT 28 March 2010


Comment by M.V.S. SHARMA | 12:00am BST 12 October 2010

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