Laxman retires from international cricket
Hyderabad: VVS Laxman, who won many a match for India with his wristy elegance including an epic 281 against Australia in Kolkata, Saturday announced his retirement from international cricket with immediate effect, bringing down the curtains on a glorious career spanning 16 years.
The 37-year-old Laxman, one of the finest batsmen in contemporary cricket, said that he felt it was the right time to bid adieu to the game which he played with "great pride for the country".
"I would like to announce my retirement from international cricket with immediate effect. I think it's right time to move on", an emotional Laxman told a press conference here.
Laxman, who was picked in the Indian squad for the two-match Test series against New Zealand beginning here from August 23, surprisingly chose to hang his boots with immediate effect without taking the opportunity to bow out of international cricket in front of his home crowd.
"It was a tough decision to take, I have always listened to my inner conscience. The inner voice is a divine voice, I have always done that right through my career. There was a lot of debate in the last four days. I felt this is the right time to move on", he said.
Laxman, who earned the sobriquet 'Very Very Special' for his style and flair, played 134 Tests, amassing 8,781 runs at an average of 45.97. He scored 17 hundreds and 56 half centuries in the longer format of the game.
Laxman, who was not a regular in India's ODI team, played 86 matches for an aggregate of 2338 at an average of 30.76. Unfortunately for him, he could never be a part of India's World Cup campaigns which remains one of his biggest regrets.
"I have always kept my country's success and need ahead of my personal aspirations. And while I would love contributing to the team's success, especially against England and Australia, I think this is the right to give opportunity to the youngsters in home conditions ahead of international assignments", he said.
Laxman, however, made it clear that he will continue to play for Hyderabad till this year.
"It was a dream for me to play for India since childhood and I am extremely thankful to the Almighty for giving me the opportunity to serve my country."
"I always felt that through cricket I got an opportunity to serve my country. I was fortunate to play in an era when India played some of its best cricket, home as well as away."
"I would like to thank everyone who guided me and encouraged me through my career."
Laxman will always be remembered for the magnificent 281 he scored against Australia at the Eden Gardens in March 2001 -- an innings which didn't just change the face of the match but also turned the entire series on its head.
That knock was ranked sixth in Wisden's list of 100 great Test innings in the history of the game. It was just one of the several match-winning knocks that the unassuming batsman played against the mighty Aussies at their peak.
"When I remember that knock, I feel how lucky I was to be part of history. How we changed the result of that match. It is always emotional when I think of that knock", he said.
Asked whether he had taken a hasty decision for which he will regret later, he said "I never regret the decisions I take, because my conscience is clear. I got the privilege to serve the country. I am satisfied with the decision, definitely I will never regret that I took the decision".
"I always tried to my best to give everything to the team while mantaining my dignity. There were times I am sure I did not perform well, I disappointed them but I can assure that it was not due to lack of effort," he said.
"I conclude in all humility by praying to the Almighty to take and bless Indian cricket to the highest level in the world in all forms of the game."
"It has been an emotional, fabulous and memorable journey which I will definitely cherish for the rest of my life." Laxman said.
Laxman's tour of England was also dissappointing and calls for retirement reached crescendo after India's eight consecutive Test losses.
While there was always a chance that Laxman would bow out from the scene at his homeground in Hyderabad but the national selection committee named the squad for the two Test matches --- the second of which starts in Bangalore from August 31.
With Laxman's retirement, only Sachin Tendulkar will remain among the golden generation of Indian cricketers after the retirements of Anil Kumble, Ganguly and Dravid.
He earned the nickname of 'Very Very Special' after his knock of 281 but his stupendous record against Australia, which clearly was the best team during his playing days makes him a class apart. He scored as many as six centuries against the Australians -- all of which were hallmark of his greatness.
In 2010, Laxman played yet another defining innings --- an unbeaten knock of 73 against Australia at Mohali. He was suffering from acute back spasms and had to bat with a runner and he guided India to an improbable victory by playing alongside No 10 batsman Ishant Sharma.
During the second phase of his career, he turned batting with tail-enders into an art. He missed out on many centuries as he had to bat with the lower order.
His innings of 96 against South Africa in Durban in 2010 was another effort worth remembering as he played against the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. That innings set up an Indian victory.