Goodbye VVS

The history of soccer is a sad voyage from beauty to duty. When the sport became an industry, the beauty that blossoms from the joy of play got torn out by its very roots.

In this fin-de-siècle world, professional soccer condemns all that is useless, and useless means not profitable. Nobody earns a thing from that crazy feeling that for a moment turns a man into a child playing with a balloon, like a cat with a ball of yarn; a ballet dancer who romps with a ball as light as a balloon or a ball of yarn, playing without even knowing he’s playing, with no purpose or clock or referee.

Thus begins Eduardo Galeano’s 1995 classic Soccer in Sun and Shadow, a passage that raises visions of a pained Galeano sitting in a soulless soccer stadium in Montevideo, searching desperately for a player who is approaching the game “without even knowing he’s playing, with no purpose or clock or referee”.

I wish Galaeno had seen VVS, a cricketer capable – with nothing more than a delicate swish – of twisting the hard-as-nails enterprise of cricket into a joyous pastime; of transporting middle-aged men from their workplace to their backyard; of making us sit up in our seats alive with possibility.

VVS Laxman has retired from international cricket. He didn’t give us much notice, didn’t warn us in advance. If one were to believe him – and why, oh why, would you ever do anything else? – he toyed with the idea for a few days before making up his mind on Saturday morning. I like the idea of Laxman toying with thoughts. I like the idea of Laxman toying with anything. Because Laxman was the ultimate toy artist, like that boy next door – yes, the same devout, shy boy next door – who took your Hotwheels car set and played with them like you had never thought of before.

Laxman reminded me of that boy. Several writers have tried to capture the magic of Kolkata ’01. Is it even possible to bring out the essence of that monumental 281? The late Peter Roebuck got close. “He [Laxman] rose to the occasion like a backbencher suddenly standing in an important debate and producing a speech so full of gravitas that the government itself took notice.”

Laxman was that backbencher. He was also the nicest backbencher. The word ‘nice’ is so overused that it’s lost its meaning. But VVS was nice, uber-nice, so nice that for a long time in his career he found it hard to refuse interviews. Rarely have I seen anyone so anguished at having to say the word ‘no’. He was apologetic when he couldn’t go the extra yard to help. He was so pliant that it often worked against him – like in his early days when he was shunted up and down the batting order.

I once asked him whether all this niceness had worked against him. He considered the question. Then he spoke about how he couldn’t think of behaving in any other way. “That’s the way I’ve been brought up,” he said. “I have to be nice to people not because I have to be nice, but because that’s the way I am … It’s not wrong to be a nice guy, right?”

Read that last bit again. Understand how Laxman could cross all conceivable boundaries of niceness. “It’s not wrong to be a nice guy, right?”

Laxman is often branded as a stylist but that discounts his extraordinary versatility. He could scrap on a treacherous pitch (think Ahmedabad ’96 on his debut), eke out runs with the tail (think Perth ’08, Mohali ’10)  and bat time. He was outstanding against raw pace – not so much swing and seam but against pace he was king – and arguably the best Indian batsman against spin (a colossus among the giants).

And he won matches. Many, many matches. As long as Laxman was at the crease, India were in the game. In some ways he was cricket’s version of Roger Federer. “What’s historically special about him isn’t his elegance,” as Steve Tignor said of Federer, “but the way he has made elegance work.”

Which brings me to the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2008. India had been pummeled in Melbourne, their batsmen had been suffocated with inside-out fields. Australia knew that India’s batsmen were at their most vulnerable when boundaries were not easy to come by. They understood that bowling tight lines and setting imaginative fields would thwart this great batting line-up.

Australia had recovered from 134 for 6 to 463. Jaffer was out for a 25-ball 3. Dravid was struggling. Like epic struggling. The series was slipping away. There were shackles everywhere. Until then, India’s batsmen had only poked and prodded. You sensed that even the crowd wished for a contest.

In walked Laxman. And then came the jailbreak. Cover-drive after exquisite cover-drive reeled off his bat. There was a remarkable freshness to those strokes. I had likened them to counting a wad of brand new currency notes. Swish, swish, swish. In less than half an hour, he had changed the mood. You literally heard the gasps. Crunch, gasp, crunch, gasp. A blind man sitting in the stands could have felt the magnitude of that Laxman innings. It was uplifting. You felt great about the world again.

And therein lay Laxman’s genius. He was like those fairies in tales, divine beings that would grant you wishes. You could ask for something you had been wishing for a long time, something you thought you would never see on a cricket field. And he would make it happen. Not once, not twice but over and over again.  He heard your inner voice. And he responded with a magical touch.

Don McLean first sang American Pie three years before Laxman was born. But he understood people like VVS who leave an indelible mark.

A long long time ago

I can still remember how

That music used to make me smile

And I knew if I had my chance

That I could make those people dance

And maybe they’d be happy for a while

I thought of that song yesterday. And I also thought of the lines that end the first stanza: ‘But something touched me deep inside. The day the music died.’

Because we all know that on Saturday, the music kinda died.

***

Related: Goodbye Dravid, Bye bye Kumble , Losing my religion 

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64 Responses to Goodbye VVS

  1. tracer007 says:

    Reblogged this on Like a Tracer Bullet and commented:
    Sidvee delivering a tribute worthy of the man…

  2. Deepak Rao says:

    Brilliant one Sidvee, I cant think of anything to counter or improve that…

    Even though I am sad that he has retired, I am also glad he did. There is no point in playing home series (some people are downplaying it, but england and Australia are due.. So it wont be a cakewalk) as he has nothing to prove. But then I think of you quoting Dravid who quoted Ian Thorpe about playing for fun and not for legacy.
    The elegant batsman being a dying breed and even though there has been someone carrying the torch, there is nobody at the moment after Mahela

    • sidvee says:

      Thanks Deepak. I guess he knew best. And I would think that he would have wanted to continue had he really, really wanted it. I am surprised about the reports about Laxman being hurt from ‘media criticism’ because that is nothing new to him. In fact he has always reacted to criticism with performance rather than by going into a shell. Overall I think he timed it pretty well. And yes, we need more elegance.

  3. For me, apart from the epics we all talk about, two innings stand out. One, the 35* against SA in Cape Town (second innings) where his p’ship with the tail-enders was a pointer to the things to come in future. The other one was 28 against Zimbabwe. First innings after that magical series against Australia. Comes in at the fall of Ramesh’s wicket and threads six boundaries. One for each of regions in the wagon wheel, and gets out. For one last time, Ketchup Sandwich :)

    • sidvee says:

      Remember that 32 on the first morning at Bloemfontein? Sehwag’s debut match. That 30-ball 32 (with four fours and a six) had the makings of a grand triple hundred. Everything was going so right when he edged Hayward to Boucher. Always wondered if we would have won that match had Lax continued. And yes, it’s time for a ketchup sandwich.

      • Deepak Rao says:

        That was the innings when Sunny Gavaskar went to town lamblasting his commitment and throwing his wicket casually. It led him to being pushed down to No 6 and Dravid regaining his No 3 and prehaps lost 2000 test runs and at least 5 more centuries in his career. But what did he do in the next game at Cape Town (the mike deness game).. scored 89 when everyone but for Saurav who scored 43 floundered. I still remember though that Sunny wasnt impressed and said something on the lines of him playing well when only his place was on the line (this after 4 tests since 281 and 3 since those crucial 60s in chepauk and the 2 tests in Zim after). I guess some people only like substance and not style and substance.

      • sidvee says:

        Fine point, Deepak. Interesting how one dismissal and a few comments can change so much. It was amazing how little leeway he got after that home series against Aus (’01). It was probably the greatest series for an Indian batsman and he is place was on the line 4 Tests later. Makes for a great case of ‘what might have been’. That dismissal in Bloemfontein was so cruel.

      • Deepak Rao says:

        As Harsha said on commentary, ” A beautiful flower nipped in the bud”

        Against Warne and some joke bowling at the Eden

    • Kartik says:

      Wow! At last someone thinks the same. I too find that 28 to be one of his best innings (Sachin’s 45 against Pak in WC 99 also comes to mind). The thing is he was in such mind blowing form back then (after 281), that I used to get frustrated when he threw his wicket away. Guess someone spoke to him after that and he started churning out the big ones. I usually refrain from commenting. But the very mention of 28 made me jump up and notice. Nice blog SidVee. Am just wondering what would happen if and when ‘you know who retires’. The tributes would be pouring in for a month I guess.

  4. Been reading few on Laxman since last two days and i was surprised no one compared him to Federer because sometimes i thought Laxman played some shots which Federer would be jealous of in the sense that the way the whole shot was played by Laxman.

  5. CricketNNS says:

    What an article bro, absolutely amazing. His decision to retire just a week before the home test vs NZ is questionable, but nevertheless it marks the end of a great career.

  6. Varun says:

    I think i speak for everybody when i say that whether its kumble, ganguly, dravid, or laxman now, nothing gives us the closure that your article does with such ease. I used to think i was blessed to watch sport. Still do. But now i realize that the blessing extends to reading about it too. Stoked !

  7. a wonderful tribute befitting the silken stature of Laxman.

  8. masterful piece…sweet sounding music.

  9. I had been thinking of writing a tribute. Now, I don’t want to. I can’t, after reading this.
    Thank you, Sidvee.

  10. Sriram says:

    Excellent piece, Sidvee. Apart from Laxman’s artistry and the ability to play outrageous shots consistently, one thing that stood out for me was his tremendous poise. The match situation rarely changed the expression on his face, which was never far from a smile, or his mannerisms. In that sense, he came closest to someone who plays “without even knowing he’s playing, with no purpose or clock or referee”. I thought this piece which compared him to other modern greats captured this aspect pretty well (http://www.espncricinfo.com/infocus/content/story/486141.html?comments=all)

    Now that the father and son have caught the last train for the coast, we can get rid of the kinda once the holy ghost decides to leave…

    • sidvee says:

      Thanks Sriram. Totally agree with your point about his poise. It was hard to tell the match situation from Laxman’s expressions. Kolkata ’01 was the classic case where the man just sported the same serene expression throughout. And yes, I was in two minds about the ‘kinda’ :)

  11. Srikanth says:

    Sidvee writes like VVS bats-honest and elegant!

  12. Chitra says:

    Sidhu – I don’t follow cricket, having said that, your words brought alive VVS in action for me and has left a sense of sadness.

    Not sure if I can use this expression – still will do – this piece of your writing is breathtaking.

  13. Suresh says:

    Brilliant piece! I am glad you buried the engineer in favour of the writer :-)

  14. Sarath Chandra says:

    The 8-0 continues to haunt us and i guess it will keep haunting us for some time to come. Its always sad when a sportsman retires. These are people in the prime of their lives suddenly having to give up not only what they are best at but often the only thing they know.

    “This series was meant to be a fitting final trophy but has ended in tears. An era is over in more ways than one. So after all the misery and rage, Indian cricket fans will perhaps tune in to the Adelaide Test not hoping for a turnaround – the time for that has long passed – but for a final glimpse of their batting heroes. Who knows how many of them will turn up at the next Test?”
    This was Sambit Bal before the Adelaide Test. How prophetic these words seem now.

    To be honest, this was always going to be inevitable. It was always a matter of ‘When’ rather than ‘If’. Hard to blame the selectors or MSD here.

    Having said that, world cricket will undoubtedly be poorer without Laxman. What an ambassador of
    the game he has been. I don’t know why, but to me, there was a always a certain quality of sadness in Laxman’s innings. Don’t get me wrong, it is a joy to watch him bat but there was a certain underlying fragility in it. There was none of Dravid’s solidarity or Sachin’s perfection, it was more like watching magic being created; it didn’t seem to belong in today’s world, didn’t seem as if it would survive. Perhaps, it was only me seeing the vulnerability of his early career reflected in his batting, whatever it was, i never wanted to miss watching Laxman bat for i was afraid i will not be fortunate enough to witness something as beautiful again.

    To borrow Arunabha Sengupta “Lost both lungs within six months … only the heart continues to beat”.

    And Varun is right when he says he speaks for everybody. Nothing brings closure like a Sidvee article. Thank you Sid.

    • sidvee says:

      Thanks Sarath. Interesting point about Laxman’s ‘fragility’. I guess we all noticed that too and reacted differently to it. For me that ‘fragility’ you talk of was actually a good thing – because one never knew what to expect. Laxman could fly one day and disappoint the next but he always made us watch and hope. I think your last bit captures what we felt – never wanted to miss him bat because we were afraid we will miss something beautiful. I don’t think there can be a greater compliment for an athlete.

  15. Shankar V says:

    VVS leaves behind a fan base that is still caught under his magical trance. What a batsman……nah….a magician with the bat as his wand.

    However, I still feel that he has retired a tad too late. He should have hung his boots before the England series. Or at least before the Aussie series. He should have quit when he was still winning us test matches with his glorious second innings acts.

  16. Shankar says:

    What an honest & sublime take on the Cricketer that truly personified everything great about the game! (OK, Rahul Dravid has to be the other one). Sidvee, your penchant for poetic prose is the reason why we humans love to read.

    BTW, I can’t wait for your piece on the shambles called the BCCI & the India Selection Committee. Just to prove how ridiculously arrogant they really are, I am rooting for the underdog NZ…

  17. rjt00 says:

    Reblogged this on rjt00 and commented:
    Sidvee, the master himself on another master class- Laxman.

  18. A very excellent article. A fitting tribute to a gentleman cricketer.
    C.K.Muralidharan,Mysore

  19. Amogh says:

    “Writing Sidvee!” (Like one would saw “Bowling Shane” from behind the stumps.)

  20. Sarath Chandra says:

    It has just struck me that this team now has a player who made his debut in the 80’s but none who made their debut in the 90’s. Longevity that is both staggering and inspiring.

  21. Comments on my Facebook feed when I shared this piece. Thought I’d share them with you :)

    “Thanks for sharing this – incredible words from Sid – “I had likened them to counting a wad of brand new currency notes. Swish, swish, swish. In less than half an hour, he had changed the mood.””

    “it sure comes from the heart! Very well summed up and very refreshing – original!”

  22. Brilliant, emotive article! Remembering somebody’s best moments as he leaves has become a rote activity. To do that one more time and not sound boring, contrite or mechanical in itself is special. To make people appreciate the gravitas of the moment and remind them of the value of the man who is leaving – that is worth much more! Great one, Sidvee!

  23. Vinod says:

    Very well written.

  24. Aditya Sethuraman says:

    Nothing to add from me – thou bist god only saar – loved the article

  25. raja says:

    Lovely piece. Am glad you mentioned his Sydney 2008 innings. It doesn’t get mentioned very much (mainly because a lot of his other innings are also very special) but I can never forget that Sydney innings. You are right – India looked to be in deep trouble before Lax just batted as if it was a club game. There were some of the most audacious shots in that innings, but all packed with grace.

    Like I was telling a friend – judging Lax by his runs or his hundreds would hardly tell the story of the man. One has to see what he provided the cricket fan in terms of pure beauty of batting. And of course, most of the times when the team was desperate to win a game or save it, he was THE go-to man. Anyday give me this to a batsman who gets piles of runs in a match of little consequence.

  26. gnsr says:

    Is there any compilation/playlist from youtube/other video sites that contain the best innings of Laxman?

    If it is available in some DVD form that can be purchased, that will work too.

    • sidvee says:

      There are a few on YouTube. You can check on robelinda2’s channel. I am sure you can get the 2001 Aus series on DVD. Also the 2004 and 2008 Aus series. Not sure about the rest.

  27. Krithikaa says:

    Hi Sidvee ,

    Let me be very Honest. I’ve not seen any of VVS’s Laxman earlier knocks and even though I loved his batting post 2001 , VVS was an afterthought to me , on the pedestal of legends after Sachin and Dravid. I realized what he brought to the game and to the team , only after that epic 73 at Mohali . Here was a man , who played most of career at no 6 , partnering tail enders more often than not , yet making these humongous scores. Who knows what his report card would have looked like , had he batted higher up the order?

    I guess most people like self realize the void he’s left us in , only after he’s departed. We’ve lost the best part of our slip cordon and the back bones of our middle order. Yes, Laxman will be replaced , hopefully by a cricketer of equal skill and talent , but we’ll still miss him , cos they don’t make batsmen like Laxman anymore

  28. Aditya Jandial says:

    Thank you!

  29. sameerphal says:

    Simply outstanding,majestic,ethereal. It takes an artist of rare calibre to rite a fitting tribute on an artist like VVS Laxman

  30. akk says:

    A fitting tribute to a peerless player. Never seen an Indian player dominate sessions in the manner that VVS did.

  31. Nithin Rao says:

    Being an ardent supporter of karnataka in ranji trophy cricket i used to loathe the site of VVS laxman whenever karnataka used to play Hyderabad in the ranji trophy. He always used to score big runs against us. However that turned into admiration which only grew with time once he made his debut for team India.

    I dont want to dwell into his very very special performances as that has been covered in depth and is a part of cricketing folklore. I want to bring up a point which no one seems to mention. Could it be that VVS is the best captain India never had ? From what i have read and heard it is believed that VVS was an excellent captain material . How well he would have been? well we can never know can we ? My gut feeling is that he would have been a captain in the Mark Taylor mould.

    .I just hope that Karnataka dont face Hyderabad in this year edition’s of the ranji trophy. If it does i just hope that VVS does well but Karnataka wins :)

    VVS may not have any special records that the cricketing world will remember but his special feats can never be forgotten by the cricketing world

    • sidvee says:

      Yes Nithin. I too remember his many, many big knocks in the Ranji against us. Especially in the 203 in the ’96 semi. As for your other point – he could well have been an inspirational captain but I think his introverted nature might have worked against him there. But yes, a shrewd mind and someone who read a lot and was a fine student of the game.

  32. Hari S says:

    Excellent article Sidvee…I hope one day some one makes a good movie about the Kolkata Test. Would make excellent watching – too many twists and turns (!).. In a way, the 281 made the indian cricketing public dare to believe for ever that it Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over”.. Among all of the fab four (or five) , he was the maverick best – the enigma. Thanks VVS.. The cricketing record books cannot capture what you were – a VanGogh with the bat..with the most beautiful strokes !!

  33. Love this piece…Thanks Sidvee…Yes the “music definitely died”…the 2008 Sydney innings was a masterpiece..the 69 in mumbai against Australia on a turner also..so many gems ..

  34. Hastagiri says:

    I blame Laxman. I blame Laxman for making me a Lax Man. I dream and I dream. There’s an important exam. There’s an interview. A project needs to completed. A paper needs to be submitted. A report has to be finished. Some code has to be checked in. A bug has to be fixed. A presentation is to be prepared. A train/flight is to be caught. A deadline for something or other is approaching.

    I know i can start now and meet the deadline easily. But this main culprit took that away. I guess I was always like that. But he made me worse. So much worse that I dont feel like doing anything unless its crunch time. I sit and watch the paint dry while the clock ticks over. I see people scurrying around getting their things done and meeting their deadlines and I cannot, for the life of me, fathom how it is satisfying for them. Isn’t it always better to start doing things after they cross the invisible boundary from being possible to being improbable, or even impossible. The rush one gets, the adrenaline that courses, the dizziness that it proffers. Dont the doors to greatness, wonder and awe remain steadily closed if you achieved what was expected in an expected amount of time?

    I have wondered many times if I was buying insurance against failure. If i was preparing my excuse for falling short while ensuring that the odds that I would fall short also increase. It would be easy to say later, I did not work hard/long enough and hence this is not really a failure. But, nonetheless, the failures always hurt and it was always followed by a determination to achieve results ordinarily as opposed to gunning for greatness and failing.

    Having tossed out the excuse preparation argument, I was wondering about this romanticized notion of winning against all odds. I always support the underdog, the enigma of a comeback always gave me goosebumps. The revelation that Atticus Finch was a prize-winning marksman felt like justice served at that point in the novel.

    How could one not think this way, if you saw the accolades for Laxman’s sydney 167 or, infinitely more importantly, his 281 and his countless other back-to-the-wall innings. His numbers are good but pale in comparison to the other greats of his time. But the aura about the man shone brighter, bigger and longer than anybody else’s. Lara fizzled out early, Ponting had his down-time, both the Sachin and the Rahul we know disappeared for a while. But Laxman was always Laxman. You could expect the unexpected.

    And, it was this aura that I began to chase futilely. I had to almost miss trains, I had to almost fail exams, I had to almost get fired, I had to almost kill myself. The whole point of existence seems to tempt fate. I wanted to meet both triumph and disaster at the same time. Impostors they maybe but i did want to snatch triumph away in the end. There was no joy in setting up an appointment with triumph, meeting her and bringing her back while there was no sign of disaster. I had to meet them both. I had to get lured by disaster almost to the point when triumph will lose interest in me and then I had to woo her.

    I have many disappointments along the route, but I cannot live any other way. The thing is, although triumph and disaster are just impostors, triumph is like a forged winning lottery ticket while disaster is like a stolen credit card in the hands of a shopaholic thief. The loss is real and it hurts more. However, I continue the journey. I have seen the sereneness that Laxman had in those difficult situations. I want that inner peace. And I cannot have the inner peace when things around me are peaceful. I can have that inner peace only when things around me are in a frenzy. When the deadline is fast approaching, when triumph is threatening to leave the room altogether, that is when I feel at home and that is when I am motivated to work.

    And for all this, I thank you and blame you, Laxman.

  35. Vibhash says:

    Remember your “Losing my religion” article…Ah, one last bit is left in losing the religion completely…when that happens, we may all become atheist….
    To me, Laxman’s second best innings was his 90 odd in Durban 2010-2011 series…against a terrific attack on a tough pitch, he won us another match and that too when we were about to squander the first innings advantage…
    well written…

  36. Nice written article, Sidvee! Thanks!

    VVS might have played many a match winning knocks; he might have played classy square cut after square cut after meaty pull after pull. However, your, “He heard your inner voice” is the master stroke.

    Cheers!
    Babu Kothandaraman

  37. Divya says:

    Sidvee,

    Let me start out by saying that I don’t like Cricket. Don’t hate it, but I find it boring. The only kind of cricket I can relate to are the matches with lots of sixes, fours n wickets. But I love cricket too – for the wilddddd passion it brings out in people, the patriotism that you can smell in the air when there is a big match around the corner. It brings people together like nothing else does…
    That said, I had no idea who VVS Laxman was. I mean, I obviously knew he is a cricketer, coz I’d heard his name pop up here and there off and on. But I actually had to Google him n see if I knew his face from somewhere. Guess what? I didn’t.
    A friend had posted this link on Facebook and I just got curious because of the picture. It’s a really good one. And then I read it. Read about Laxman’s innings in the sport, the various matches, his highlights, got a sneak peek of his personality… While I read, I could actually hear the roar in the stands, I could see that thoughtful smile on his face…
    By the time I was done, I had goosebumps and was teary-eyed. Teary-eyed for a man I didn’t know existed, from a sport I don’t care about.
    If you can do that to a person who doesn’t give a s*** about cricket, I’d say… that’s a damn good job man… That’s a good piece of writing. :)

    • sidvee says:

      Thanks for the comment, Divya. I have always struggled to write for readers who don’t understand cricket. I think it’s a problem with a lot of the sports writing we have these days – it is mainly written for a core audience of sports buffs. I too fall into the trap off and on but largely try and make the pieces more accessible. So your comment heartens me no end. Thanks again.

  38. Sid says:

    Hi Sid V,

    I for one, am a bit of a cricket buff and a VVS-phile – in fact I worship him much more than I do the supposed God of Indian cricket, Sachin T – and that too after having stayed in Mumbai for more than 8 years.

    However. to re-phrase Shakespeare, I come here not to bury Tendulkar but to praise VVS.

    Although I have a couple of clarifications.

    Firstly, what is it with wristy Hyderabadi elegance and the mecca of Indian cricket (the Eden Gardens)? It started with Azhar and then came along VVS. I believe even Jaisimha contributed to this cause. I had read about this on http://www.cricinfo.com but I would still want to seek your opinion/s.

    Secondly, why is it that Azhar’s wristmanship strikes me as being more workman-like than Laxman’s delicate touches of artistry? Both comprise wristy flicks on the leg-side, both bisect the mid-on fields and most importantly, both are performed with minimum fuss and maximum elegance. Am I being biased or is there anything, in your opinion, that proves the case?

    Btw, your piece on VVS moved me. I adore the man although am not in awe of him (because I guess, of his sheer nice-ness/ humane-ness). Your writing not only added to my adoration of the man but also elevated it to a different level altogether. Thank you for making my day:-)!

    Regards,

    Sid D (your namesake)

    • sidvee says:

      Hey Sid D,

      Thanks for the comment. I am not sure why Azhar and VVS did well in Eden Gardens (MLJ had a comparatively modest record, and his lone century there was labored rather than electric). However, I do think there is something to say for the Hyderabadi school of elegance. Apart from these three, there have been numerous other domestic batsmen who have been wristy. Maybe it’s a case of emulating one’s heroes. But a detailed study needs to be done.

      As for Azhar’s style – I wouldn’t say it was more workmanlike, rather it was probably more elaborate. There was a signature flourish at the end of the twist and his whole body seemed to be involved in the stroke (rather than just the wrists). VVS is more economical in his elegance (I think) and hence does seem more delicate and effortless.

  39. Pingback: An era to savour | ________________

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