Bangalore, Jan 18: Gautam Gambhir was correct when he said a player has the right to decide when to retire and not be pushed by others. He was talking in support of the out-of-form VVS Laxman. And the Indian opener was also right in asking the critics why pick one cricketer for criticism when it has been a collective failure in Australia.
Gambhir made it clear that all top seven batsmen had failed and Laxman alone should not be held responsible for team's woes. Over the past few days, there have been several reports on Laxman's future in the team. One of them had quoted a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) official hinting that Laxman might have played his last Test in Perth where he was dismissed for zero in the second innings.
The 37-year-old affable Hyderabadi has managed only 102 runs in six innings with a lone half century. But batting struggles are not only confined to him. Barring Sachin Tendulkar, who has looked good, rest have had a tough tour. Always known for his exploits against Australia, it has been an unexpectedly very quiet series for Laxman.
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Laxman is that kind of a person who goes about his job in a quiet manner. He has been a gentleman on the field and off it. He ranks as one of the best batsmen in Indian cricket and certainly deserves an
After having served Indian cricket for over 15 years, Laxman should be treated better by the selectors and the BCCI. Nobody can force him into retirement.
Laxman, like Rahul Dravid, has been the man for every crisis. Be it the historic Kolkata Test against Steve Waugh's men in 2001, or Mohali 2010 against Ricky Ponting's legion or Durban 2010 against Graeme Smith's team or Colombo 2010 versus Sri Lanka, Laxman has played match-winning knocks.
In the recent past he had become a fourth innings specialist, rallying with the tailenders when the top order had deserted the team. Agreed, the 133-Test veteran is ageing but a big innings might just be around in Adelaide. Age should never be the only factor to judge him.
Not long ago, he hit an unbeaten 176 against West Indies in November, 2011 in Kolkata. It feels like yesterday. Critics might dismiss that knock as constructed in home conditions but Laxman is capable of producing such a masterclass again on any surface.
Adelaide Oval will remember his 148 in 2003 where India eked out a famous four-wicket win. Come January 24 and Adelaide will host another India-Australia clash and Laxman deserves to be part of the playing XI. After that let him decide whether it is time to walk away from the game.