VVS Laxman seems to be done with cricket. Friends and sources close to the star India batsman say he has decided to hang up his boots. The announcement is likely to come on Saturday. “At 12 noon tomorrow,” a close associate of the player told this paper.
The above piece of information could not be independently verified, but friends and associates say the stylish right-hander from Hyderabad is upset with reports about his continued presence in the Test side. Laxman is believed to be particularly hurt by comments made by a reputed former India skipper who had raised questions about his usefulness to the Indian team.
Laxman has been selected for the two-Test series against New Zealand and it is said he will play the series before calling it quits. Conversely, there are also suggestions that he should retire after the end of the first Test which will be played in his hometown from August 23. Laxman, it is understood, is discussing his exit plan with family and close friends.
“I’ve suggested that he should retire after the first Test,” said John Manoj, Laxman’s first coach. “We have had discussions and he told me he would get back to me on this. There is no better place to bow out than your home ground,” Manoj remarked.
Laxman, it is learnt, has formally conveyed his intentions to a few cricket officials. He is believed to have spoken to former India player Shivlal Yadav, who is now the vice-president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as well as vice-president of the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA), on Friday afternoon. He also told a few journalist friends in Hyderabad that he would spell out his plans soon.
Laxman’s retirement has been in the pipeline for some time. In particular, he has been in uncomfortable focus since Rahul Dravid announced his retirement in April.
After his disastrous performance in Australia, where he averaged less than 20 in four Tests, there has been a clamour that he should make way for a youngster. Prior to that, he had made a lowly 182 in four Tests in England at an average of 22.75. India were, of course, blanked both in England and Australia.
Laxman, part of what was known as the ‘Fab Four’ of Indian cricket, has played 134 Tests and scored 8,781 runs at a healthy average of 45.97. He also featured in 86 ODIs. Without criticism, maybe he would have liked to hang on for a few more series. After all, he is only 37. At 39, Tendulkar is going strong.