It’s sort of hard to talk about VVS Laxman without talking about how pretty his batting was.
The man could cover drive from the rough outside legstump better than most people eat soup, and do it prettier than Bryce Dallas Howard.
But, he was more than just a pretty blade.
VVS could have quit cricket before he even started it, he could have become a doctor, or lawyer, or classy hotelier.
It would have been easier than playing for India for 16 years. Or even making it to the top in the first place.
Some players play to win, that sort of Ricky Ponting sickness.
Some players play for the adulation, Sourav Ganguly’s main reason for being.
Some players play because they can’t do anything else that good, Shane Warne wouldn’t be a doctor.
And then some players play just because they love cricket.
VVS had that. Really, he could have left the game a while back. Once he disassembled Australia like they were a Mr Potato head, he was a legend. The rest didn’t even need to happen. No one was going to forget that innings.
Instead he stuck around through form lapses, Greg Chappell and India’s decline.
At any time he could have jumped off the bus and run for the hills.
His average was not untouchable, and in years to come, people will look at it and wonder why we all drool when we talk about him. It wasn’t how many runs he scored, it was when he scored them and how he scored them. He’s not a man who deserves to be put into a spreadsheet.
Considering he was never going to be captain, couldn’t enhance his reputation, India were getting worse and worse, has a back essentially made of ice cream cake and he’s not been a run machine for some time now, he’s had plenty of opportunities to leave cricket over the last few years.
And he hasn’t. From what I can tell, not because of ego, wins or because he had nothing else to do, but just because he likes to play cricket.
Cricket is what makes him happy.
It’s not often you get a professional sportsman who plays just because he loves the game, without trying to prove anything to anyone, but just because of the thrill he gets out of playing a good shot.
Players who make it look as easy as VVS do are often said to not care as much as others.
But VVS spent hours just trying to unpretzel his back before each Test day. He screamed at Ojha to run to win that Test in Mohali. He put his body and mind through everything in Kolkata. And I still remember the look of horror on his face the day he went out to Brad Hogg. Cricket just got inside of him, and even now he plans to continue playing in the Ranji trophy without a spine that wants him to. Cricket and him were made to be together.
When someone like him moves on, even if it was time for him to go, cricket loses something. It loses a star, a poet and a cricketer.
VVS was as pure as any cricketer before him. A cricketer’s cricketer. Perhaps he would have been a great doctor, or lawyer, or anything else he wanted to be, but I’m glad he chose cricket, and consider myself lucky to have seen him play. I’d like to thank Baba Krishna for giving VVS cricket, and giving us VVS.
Cricket will move on without him, but it will miss him. Very very will never quite do him justice, it was always to clumsy a term for someone that special.