VVS Laxman, the man who never played in World Cup

Written by: Aprameya .C
Published: Sunday, August 19, 2012, 19:12 [IST]
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Bangalore, Aug 19: For a man who played more than 100 Tests, the biggest disappointment in his cricket life was not playing in a single World Cup game. This is the tale of VVS Laxman, who called it a day from international cricket on Saturday.

Laxman was Very Very Special in Test cricket but was not the same in his One Day International journey.

World Cup: Laxman's unfulfilled dream

He spent 16 years in international cricket. For most of that illustrious sojourn, Laxman is often remembered for his exploits in white clothes rather than his batting against a white ball.

In 134 Test appearances, Laxman scored more than 8,000 runs. But he could not replicate the same in the shorter format. He won 86 ODI caps accumulating 2,338 runs with six tons.

Laxman's 134 is the most by any Test batsman without having played a World Cup.

Many felt Laxman was not a good fielder which was one of the main causes for his short ODI career.

But for a Test great, who could dismantle world cricket's biggest bowling attacks, one could not understand why he was not given a long run in ODIs.

The biggest shocker of Laxman's cricketing life came in 2003 when he was omitted from the World Cup squad for South Africa.

When Laxman looked a certainty for the 15-member squad, the Hyderabadi was ignored and his place was given to Dinesh Mongia.

Recalling that, on Saturday, Sourav Ganguly, who was the captain of the side then, admitted that it was a "mistake" not to pick Laxman for 2003 World Cup.

"In hindsight, not having Laxman in our 2003 World Cup squad was a mistake. While picking the squad, the onus was on having the right balance. Dinesh Mongia's ability to chip in with a few overs tilted the scales in his favour," Ganguly told "The Times Of India".

"Looking back, I do feel Laxman should have been picked," Ganguly added.

In 2009, Laxman, speaking to a TV channel, had said missing the 2003 World Cup was the "lowest point" in his career.

"It was very unfortunate that I missed the World Cup and it came as a rude shock to me. The selection was done and I was not picked. It was definitely the lowest point in my career," Laxman had said in an interview.

"It was a very disappointing, depressing moment and shock of his life, because World Cup comes in once in four years," he said few months after the World Cup.

When the selectors picked the 2003 World Cup squad, they chose to dump Laxman and in an attempt to make up for that humiliation, made him India 'A' captain to the tour of Caribbean for the Carib Beer International Cup.

Laxman, clearly being hurt and let down by selectors, fared miserably in that series. His sequence of scores 0, 0, 4, 0, 4, 46, 2, 70 in the five matches of Carib Beer Cup showed he was never in the right frame of mind after that shocker.

Instead of being in South Africa for the quadrennial showpiece, Laxman was packed off to play a tournament best suited for up and coming cricketers rather than established ones like him.

Post 2003 World Cup, where India finished runner-up, Laxman was back in the ODI fold. He proved his credentials by smashing five hundreds in six months, between October 26, 2003 and March 24, 2004.

After that, he got to only 14 more chances and was never picked again. His final ODI was on December 3, 2006 in South Africa where he was out for a duck, batting at number three.

It is "very very shocking" and "very very surprising" that Indian ODI history will have to remember Laxman, one of the country's greatest batsmen, as a man who never played in a World Cup.


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